Monday, November 22, 2010
Idea 15: Disruption Leads to Twitter Concierge
For this week, I would like to focus on the Disruptive Technology paradigm. This concept, evangalized by authors and MIT professors Clayton Christianson and James Utterback, explains the phenomenon of technology or product concepts that enter a market and completely change the business model as a result. I won't attempt to explain the whole concept, here but the idea is that a market can grow and shift in such a way that it opens up the opportunity for a disruptive product, often centered around price, novel technologies, and "good enough" performance. Corresponding attributes of the products in the new market could include improved accessibility, design simplicity, and ease-of-use. Disruptive Technologies often appear in a mature market environment where the existing firms have been competing on high performance measures, carrying high prices along with them. The opportunity for disruption is heightened when the competing level of performance has actually exceeded the need of the average user. (For more on the exceeding of user expectations, read up on the invaluable Kano Analysis method.)
So how to identify opportunities for Disruptive Technologies? This is obviously a real challenge but the idea is to seek out markets where product features and performance may be hitting expectations but exceeding needs, which is a signficant distinction. What markets feature users that may soon become overwhelmed with information, confused by features, and seeking simplicity? Personally, I think Social Media is a target.
To scope the exercise, let's talk Twitter. Now I use Twitter far more for consumption than for production of information. I do Tweet, maybe a few times a week, but mostly, I really like Twitter as a means of following interesting people and companies related to design and innovation, just to keep up on any interesting happenings that may be going on. I also happen to follow a dozen or so sports writers that cover the NFL and the Boston Red Sox. Twitter for me is really about saving me time by simplifying the vast array of available information by distilling it down through people I have trusted to do the filtering for me. The product is fine - part useful, part interesting distraction, part time-saver. It's generally valuable, but it's an endless fire hose of information that I can't possibly keep up with (my own fault for configuring it this way, of course).
What if you could create a simpler version of Twitter? More assistance, more templates, less consumption... no tweeting, targeted at a less technical audience that has no use for tweeting but does want up-to-date information. No searching and browsing for information sources. Simply type in a topic that interests you (e.g. European Business, World Cup, etc.) and the system dynamically determines the most relevant Twitter sources tied to the topic (I'm talking Twitter "Concierge" not Twitter Search). This is about competing on a simple, high-quality user experience, not on quantity of information. Could even consider implmenting this in a whole new form factor, like a counter-top device, appliance display, etc. I think I know a whole range of people who would be interested in this, and I wonder if you do too...