Key to high tech innovation: A lean approach

Michael Davies

When it comes to technology, Michael Davies says conventional wisdom is wrong.

In a rational world, one would think that the more you spend on R&D, the more successful your product will be.  But the world and its inhabitants are not rational.

Davies is the chairman of Endeavour Partners and a guest lecturer at MIT. He joined Chris Townsend from Imaginatik this week at a look at some of the common myths about high-tech innovation, and how we can not only learn from these myths but also apply them to other industries.

He cited a study by Booz Allen showed that there is no correlation between money spent on R&D and success. On the contrary, Apple spends very little on R&D compared to its competitors and enjoys great success.

The key is not spending, Davies said, but rather the process and developing something that people actually want.

This irrationality also exists with consumers in the shopping world. It is natural to imagine that diverse choice, more features, and a plethora of information is what consumers want. But Davies notes that diversity and complexity are both overwhelming and distressful. A decision arrived at after being presented with too many choices can result in painful buyer’s remorse. What customers really need, Davies said, are fewer products and features, and simpler choices with less information.

From a technology standpoint, Davies talks about the importance of taking a lean startup approach by asking, “How little can you spend?” The goal is to outsource the various parts so you can focus on the bottleneck of your product. It’s also important to be aware of your leverage points and bargaining chips, in order to get what you need from other, bigger companies.

How do you make this happen? Davies says it’s all about good decision-making, insight, and foresight.

And all this doesn’t just apply to start ups or tech companies. Webinar attendee Mark Neff from CSC commented about Davies’ approach as applied to education.

“First translate what you do into a product and customer language. For education: What is your product? Learning or research. What or who are your customers? Students and researchers. Now focus on what you can do to help deliver learning better and help your researchers research better and faster and with more relevant material.”

To attend a future webinar in Imaginatik’s Innovation Leaders Forum series visit our website.

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