By Tom Fedro
For as long as there’s been business enterprise, there’s been a NEXT BIG THING. Entrepreneurs do everything they can to figure it out and monetize it, people do everything they can in their particular industry to predict it, and the media does everything they can to promote it. We can see it very clearly in music, with a new “The Next Beatles” every five years or so. Well, The New Kids on the Block didn’t have the staying power of the Fab Four, and it’s a pretty good bet the next big NEXT BIG THING in technology won’t have the staying power either.
There are a few reasons for that. First of all, technology is moving so fast that predicting the next big thing is really looking backward. By the time we recognize something as the NEXT BIG THING, it’s already the CURRENT BIG THING. More importantly, technology is so often driven by the desire to see if functionality is possible that far too rarely is serious thought given to whether what’s possible will be valuable or competitive. Some of the most cutting edge technology ever developed never caught hold, and there are plenty of geniuses who’ll never be recognized. Why is that?
Frankly, I think too many people search for the NEXT BIG THING and forget THE MAIN THING. In a previous post I warned you about something similar. I told you it’s bad to confuse activity with productivity. Now, to me, business fundamentals are in play no matter what kind of a “game changer” is involved. See, we tend to believe that game changers change the rules, and they really don’t. They change our ability to excel at the game, if they’re effective. High jumpers jump backwards now. Cyclists have specially designed equipment. A baseball glove from 2013 looks very different than one from 1898. The game is still about getting higher, getting faster, and catching more balls.
The game of business is still ruled by fundamentals, and the success of the NEXT BEST THING is going to be based entirely upon those fundamentals. It’s supply. It’s demand. It’s recognizing or creating a need and capitalizing on that need. It’s not about writing code or creating for the sake of creation. When it comes to technology, the next thing is only best when it’s based on sound business principles.