January 16, 2018
Moving Your Company At The Speed Of Google
For as long as we can remember, Google is held up as a shining example of innovation in many respects. Yet, just as they admire Google, many people will say in the same breath, “Of course, I’m not Google and I don’t have Google resources.”
In a perfect world, you don't have to be Google to follow the model of what Google has done very well. Namely, Google is constantly in a state of change or planning on making change. Google is a search engine, yes. But as you know, it’s also a phone. It’s a photo album. It’s a computer. It could soon be a self-driving car. It’s a company that is intent on deploying various forms of machine learning.
It’s also a company committed to redefining the category they enter. For example, in the space of wireless headphones, was it Google’s mission to deliver finer sound or deeper bass? Not really. Their headphones are designed to translate a wide variety of languages.
They are also committed to evolving the innovations they’ve had, including search. Make no mistake – the search you typed today on Google is much different than the one you did 5 years ago. The search you do on Google 5 years from now may be drastically different too.
What Does This Mean For How You Innovate Today?
As I’ve written in another Tidbit (“When Did We Get So Satisfied With 10% Innovation?”), many large companies devote 90% of their technology spend on preserving the status quo and 10% toward true innovation. We should be thinking about how we can flip that equation because too many companies have it backwards. What if we could focus 90% of our technology spend on innovation and only 10% on maintaining our current place in the world? You’d probably resemble a very different type of company in many ways, right?
The truth is, many large companies will have no choice but to explore this kind of 90/10 ratio for their own survival. That’s because the speed with which we're consuming technology is growing exponentially. You don’t have to look far for a big example of this: It once took a large corporation to accommodate databases that were almost a gigabyte. Now, people can walk around with 256 gigabytes in their pocket, thanks to their smartphones.
I believe that most successful companies such as Apple reinvest their product line essentially on their phones once a year. You can be sure that Google reinvents what they're offering us more than once a year. Still, you don't have to be a Google, Apple or have any kind of revenue approaching these companies in order to adopt their mindset. What I find is that the nature of the organization’s DNA could be described by its background, its culture, its history, its mission – not what it makes today.
What you have embedded in the DNA of many of today's firms that are big successes is that they are essentially digital companies operating in a space where the cost of computing is collapsing every 11 months, according to the futurist Ray Kurzweil. These companies should expect to deliver twice the computing to their customers a year from now.
A company could say, “I'm stamping steel" and that's one way to look at it, but the other one is, "I have digital forms that will be sent to this device that will stamp on steel." So it’s really not about stamping steel at all. It’s about building tools that will allow a much faster way to design the parts that will then be shipped out.
Apple doesn’t manufacture their own chips. They design their own chips. And those chips are the core expertise of Apple. Because of it, Apple knows that they need to have at least twice the computing capacity in their chips a year from now that they currently have because that’s what it takes to be competitive.
Other organizations have marketing or sales at their core – Procter and Gamble is really a marketing organization, for example, not purely a manufacturer. Over the last 15 years, companies that became world-wide behemoths are the same ones who are digital at their core and appreciate how much value they can deliver to literally billions of their customers and still make a profit while actually having very little revenue coming in per person. In fact, until this century, we had no companies that had a billion simultaneous users. My, how times have changed in the age of Facebook.
Remember the 90%-reinvention-to-10%-maintaining ratio. Consider the bigger picture beyond the product of today you offer. Realize that based on consumption, your primary product could look radically different or could be non-existent altogether in favor of another advanced product due to how your company has evolved. Think about how your culture and mission can drive innovation and profit. Finally, embrace the state of constant change that could move you toward redefining categories instead of making product tweaks for marginal impact.
It’s not the domain of billion dollar companies alone.
Roy Talman & Associates has been able to identify the kind of talent that catapults companies to great success for over 30 years, helping businesses stay nimble in the face of consistently changing demands. If you’re in the technology, financial trading or management consulting space, let’s have a conversation about the next phase of your potential growth and how we can play a role in it today.