Tomorrow I am speaking at a really neat Silicon Valley Executive Network event. When Brian Reynard approached me (btw, in the spirit of full disclosure, I participate on his advisory board) about headlining the day I took up the challenge with the knowledge that Mayacama, the golf course the event will be held at, is the real draw for the day and that I would not be expected to throw up a powerpoint pitch on a product, concept, or trend.
In the spirit of speaking in whitespace, what I did is put together a real speech, in longhand no less, that highlights 6 main lessons I have learned over my years in this business, and from that an extraction of major technology trends and how I am playing them.
Without giving up all my good stuff, here’s the lessons I have learned:
- You can’t permanently break software so experiment with it, push it, and try new things. Basically this is just stating the obvious, software is abstract so we have a tremendous degree of freedom to try “what if…”.
- Group culture is an obstacle to change. Put another way, changing behavior is a far more difficult task than changing tools.
- User experience matters, not just user impressions. This simply echoes what I have been writing about here for years, that great apps typically begin with a user experience that accelerates adoption and greater degrees of usage.
- Companies won’t give up something they already have in exchange for a speculative future scenario.
- You can’t predict what will succeed, protect your downside with diversification of strategy and capital, and yes great teams really do produce results.
- Failures inform you with more powerful lessons than successes.
On the trend side I think the tech business comes down to a pretty thin basket of simple truths:
- Distribution trumps innovation but crappy products with great distribution still fail in the end.
- Consumerization of business application software cannot be avoided and it affects product strategy, go to market, pricing, and even the core value of the average software company.
- The abstraction of infrastructure ultimately redefines what it means to be a platform in ways that are not advantageous to the companies we think of today as platform vendors.
- The Net Generation demographic shift will change the face of global business and that will cause a new wave of technology investment, fueling the next 6-8 year period of growth.