Monday, May 03, 2010

Fast Slow Fast

Dean Kamen, father of the Segway, is the inspiration for today's post. (link here)

There are 3 steps in new technology being taken up by the masses.

First, the technology has to be invented and developed to a working and stable state. This is where the inventors, engineers, etc. come in. Usually, this happens pretty quickly because we are all so good at Math and Science and whatnot.

Next, people need to overcome their resistance to technology and start using it. This is where the early adopters come in. The rest of the people don't get it, though, and are slow to react. Some are not even aware that the technology exists.

Finally, the technology hits the mass market and everyone gets one, even if they don't quite "get it". This is where the businessmen come in. Usually, at this stage, the market is rapidly flooded with copies of the technology. If you haven't got your distribution networks in place already, you're going to lose a big piece of the pie. This also means distribution is even more important in a world that is probably inventing many more things faster than ever before.

Dean Kamen says that "the rate of emotional, intellectual, cultural, and regulatory inertia of the world is very high." What it means is that of the 3 steps mentioned above, overcoming resistance to technology is the part that takes the longest. Hence, we see that technological advancement moves in a Fast, Slow, Fast rhythm.

This explains why there are so many inventions lying around out there waiting for us to chance upon them.

This also means that there is a place in the value chain for people to pick up existing technology and convince the masses that it is good and necessary for them to use the technology.

The people who would fulfill this role best would be those whose skill set enables them to 1) understand how people behave and what people want, and 2) understand technology and how it can be used to meet those wants.

That's all for today. Hope you got a few good thoughts out of this.

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