Shift Index, Intense Competition, and Continual Innovation


John Hagel

Image by Joi via Flickr

This morning, I was listening to John Hagel talk to Moira Gunn on IT Conversations. The topic was a recent report he, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison wrote called the Shift Index (PDF).

They spoke about how the Internet and computers are different kinds of technological change than, say, TV. TV wasn't a tool anyone could use. Computers are--and people do. Blogs, twitter, and social networks are examples of that. The result is constant change leading to intense competition.

Moira talked about how one of her grad students has a little Web business that generates $4K per month or so. He operates globally for a less than $50K business. He also has competition: when he adds a feature, his comeition quickly follows suit.

This got me thinking that the traditional model for entrepreneurs may be changing. The traditional model is that there are people who are good at starting things and people who are good at running them and the intersection of those two sets is fairly small. That may change as the need fo continual innovation increases. We may see more companies stay small(er) and focus on innovation and meeting the demands of increasingly intense competitive pressure.