Less as a competitive advantage: My 10 minutes at Web 2.0
I was invited to present a 10 minute “High Order Bit” at the Web 2.0 Conference. I decided to talk about the concept of less as a competitive advantage. Here’s the rough text (from memory) of my presentation.
I want to talk about the concept of less. And more specifically the idea of using less as a competitive advantage.
Conventional wisdom says to beat your competitors you need to one-up them. If they have 4 features, you need 5. Or 15. Or 25. If they’re spending X, you need to spend XX. If they have 20, you need 30.
While this strategy may still work for some, it’s expensive, resource intensive, difficult, defensive, and not very satisfying. And I don’t think it’s good for customers either. It’s a very Cold War mentality — always trying to one-up. When everyone tries to one-up, we all end up with too much. There’s already too much “more” — what we need are simple solutions to simple, common problems, not huger solutions to huger problems.
What I’d like to suggest is a different approach. Instead of one-upping, try one-downing. Instead of outdoing, try underdoing. Do less than your competitors to beat them.
Every time I travel to Cambridge I have cell phone problems. Five bars of signal; can’t get through.
Tonight was no exception. Full signal, dial, wait, nothing. Dead air. Dial again, nothing. Again, “You could not be connected”. Again, and again.
Turned out that each time Granias phone was ringing, showing my number and the line was dead. Go figure.
Even Mayor Menino thinks it sucks.
I was talking to a friend in Barcelona about application development (note – I’m not a hacker; “I don’t write code” TM).
I blogged a few days ago about Backpack – and I’ve now been using it for about a week.
I’m still pretty impressed by the look, feel and general behaviour of the application; Backpack really reminds me of Lotus Organiser from about ten years ago. Except it’s extensible, in the web, always available and sharable.
One new feature that’s had some attention in the blogosphere (Scoble et al) is the Writeboards. Think of it as an always on Word or Powerpoint document that’s many-to-one sharable. And Editable. With track changes and edits.
This is a way cool feature.
I’m still looking at the security of all this. I implicitly (foolishly?) trust people like Google for my mail; I also accept that my corporate data is backed up somewhere and belongs to my employer. It’s just a little larger leap of faith for me to trust a new player in this space. What will they do with my data? Should I ever store anything more confidential than a to-do list online?