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Innovation isn’t what it used to be

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(Guest post from Ray Delany, CEO of DesignerTech)

Innovation isn’t what it used to be.

While the ICT industry is well known as an innovative force, the vast majority of people who work in the industry today have a relatively unsophisticated understanding of the nature of innovation. Too many people who have brilliant ideas think that it is the idea itself that is of value, but this is not usually the case. What we consider to be an innovation is almost always the product of a great idea plus a lot of hard work and often a little luck.

Microsoft is now a bastion of conservative big-corporate thinking, but in the 1980s it was a larrikin start-up taking aim at the big guys – IBM – with the technological equivalent of a pop-gun. The great idea back then was you could transfer your software when you upgraded your computer. Doesn’t sound so revolutionary now, but back then the convention was bigger computer equals new software.

Ten years later Microsoft was the big game in town and almost missed the significance of the commercialisation of the Internet, opening the door for younger, more nimble organisations to innovate, which led to a whole other big player known as Google, and a slew of others.

The Austrian economist Schumpeter used the phrase “creative destruction” to summarise the effect of innovation, often the creation of something new destroys that which preceded it, but it is also the case the some innovations slide neatly in next to stuff that was there before.

To really innovate and prosper, we need to find a way to harness the brilliant technical idea to the smart business thinkers who can take the idea forward and make money from it.

Being involved in the NZCS 50th Anniversary Conference provides a fantastic opportunity to hear from other people who have succeeded in doing this in a number of different ways over the years, as well as from people who are just starting out, and people who are a bit further down the track.

We will no doubt admire the achievements of the people who have succeeded, and hopefully we will also perceive the level of commitment and effort required to achieve success, and be inspired to emulate them.

Ray Delany
CEO, DesignerTech

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