September 17, 2013
There are many ways to skin a cat. The same can be said of innovation. When I mention innovation in conversation, people generally think about a process of making a product bigger, faster, better, or stronger. However, product improvement is just one type of innovation. Innovation can target the process around creating a product, resulting in lower costs such as the "lean manufacturing" innovations from the automobile company Toyota. Innovation can target improvements in the design of marketing materials, creating a more emotionally appealing advertising campaign and resulting in higher revenue. Marketing innovation has been used by numerous firms over the years to reinvigorate their concepts and company. Samsung designed their Bordeaux television line after being inspired by a wine glass. They have been on the top of the television market ever since. Innovation can even mean cultural innovation in which the culture of the company changes and innovates to come in line with a newly updated corporate vision increasing employee loyalty, retention, and overall happiness. Innovation has many faces.
My friend and Forrester colleague Rick Holland recently introduced me to a very interesting and innovative company that is currently in the process of disrupting a very old and stale, and nearly monopolistic, market. In 2010, the Internet glasses company Warby Parker realized that they could significantly improve the process of buying glasses. Warby was founded by David Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal on the premise of creating an online eyewear retailer that sold high-end specs for sub-$100 prices.
At first glance, selling glasses online seems far-fetched. How do you touch, feel, handle, and otherwise know you will look good in a certain pair of glasses when you are purchasing them online? As if innovating on the price and retail venue wasn't enough, the founding team decided they would solve the touch and feel problem by allowing you to pick five pairs of glasses, ship them to you free of charge, and allow you to return any or all of the pairs that you didn't like. This is a no risk solution for the consumer and a high value innovation by the company. Three years later, Warby Parker is radically changing the distribution model for glasses and breaking down the monopoly of the old guard glass manufacturers.
How should the mobile and application security markets use teachings from companies like Warby Parker, Samsung, and Toyota to help innovate and disrupt the status quo? I'm not sure that the mobile and application security markets need any better "widgets" to solve enterprise security problems. Innovating on products probably won't help to achieve the bigger goal of a more secure system. What will help is new market entrants envisioning major ways in which we can innovate in areas never before imagined.
Comments are open. Go forth and innovate!