When Apple released its mapping application for iOS it confirmed what many big data evangalists had been preaching, Data Trumps Everything.(eventually)
Best design, worthless without data.
Sophisticated Software, worthless without data.
While Apple won the first round in the mobile platform wars using world class design and excellent user experience, they have shown the gap in their strategy, their Achilles heal. The rapidly approaching next generations of personal computing will be built on a foundation Hardware and software differentiated with DATA.
This reality was made even more visible at the Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit, during a Keynote interview of Michael Abbott, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Mr. Abbott expressed concern about the walled gardens of data (read Google, twitter, Facebook) becoming significant barriers to competition and innovation.
Michael Abbot is exactly right. The next innovations, as we move to a cognitive economy, will require access to data, massive amounts of data. Scale and access will become huge advantages and barriers. Start-up organizations will be hard pressed to innovate without having access to these sources of data. While some innovative companies will be able to create ways to collect and build their own reservoirs of data, others will have to partner to gain access. But the bottom line is excellent hardware and software are table stakes in the cognitive economy, but data will be the coin of the realm.
In the case of Apple Maps, it is hard to believe Apple would ever catch Google. Google has long held an advantage with search and it’s velocity of innovation and improvement are difficult to match. Apple would have to exceed the rate at which Google is innovating and collecting data. With the ever increasing population of google powered devices it doesn’t look good for Apple.
My Father, was a carpenter by trade, He once told me “Tom, never give up the tools. Anyone can make lists and give orders, but only a small number of people can make something out of nothing. Someone will always be willing to pay you to make something out of nothing or pay you for something you have made.” Being a 20 year old, his point was lost on me, I didn’t know any better.
Now 20 years on and seeing and mentoring others, I understand the points my Father was trying to make. So this is what I think he was trying to say:
- You lose more than you think when giving up a skill so choose wisely.
- Money and power won’t satisfy your need to create and see things completed.
- People value what you can do more that what you say.
- There is no substitute for hard skilled work.
- Always have something to fall back on. (Or as Reid Hoffman in the The Start-Up of You called it a plan z,a backstop)
What do you think about giving up the tools?
Aristotle wrote in the Nicomachean Ethics:
Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible.
And for a great example how it applies to our professional lives watch Ben Horowitz explain the importance of courage in his interview with Kevin Rose. His explanation starts at 17:50 but I recommend watching the entire interview. Ben Horowitz is brilliant and if you don’t believe me try reading his blog.
Within companies there is always talk of openness, honesty, integrity and many more virtues. How often do you hear courage being discussed. I wrote about the Steve Yegge’s approach to presenting to Jeff bezos. Steve describes his source of courage, he writes:
I worked hard and had fun, but every day I honestly worried they might fire me in the morning. Sure, it was a kind of paranoia. But it was sort of healthy in a way. I kept my resume up to date, and I kept my skills up to date, and I never worried about saying something stupid and ruining my career. Because hey, they were most likely going to fire me in the morning.
His courage came from believing he had nothing to lose. He could suffer a fate no worse then being fired.
Bill Treasurer of Giant Leap Consulting and former member of the U.S. High Diving Team has a good article on courage , he writes:
courage is the lifeblood of such important business concepts as leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship. Indeed, in the absence of courage, these concepts don’t exist!
It is not often you see or hear of courage in a professional setting. No one has an annual objective to demonstrate courage, but in the end we all must possess it and demonstrate it. Without courage, we would be full of honesty, openness and integrity but with no willingness to act.
Courage first and then everything else.
Steve Yegge over in his Google+ feed has a post I just found about his experience presenting to Jeff Bezos. His description of the experience and his approach was great. The entire post is interesting but my favorite part is the second to last paragraph.
You have to understand: most people were scared around Bezos because they were waaaay too worried about trying to keep their jobs. People in high-level positions sometimes have a little too much personal self-esteem invested in their success. Can you imagine how annoying it must be for him to be around timid people all day long? But me — well, I thought I was going to get fired every single day. So fuck timid. Might as well aim high and go out in a ball of flame.
We all have seen the timid presentation, that’s why I like the last lines so very much (my emphasis added). Read the whole post you will enjoy it.
Kevin Rose interviews Chris Sacca of lower case capital and Chris gives a great interview. I recommend you watch the whole thing. But, to hear the best explanation of how advertising has evolved and why services like Twitter, Foursquare and Square are so valuable. The explanation starts at 34 Min.
If you like this interview you might also like Chris Sacca on This Week in Start-ups
“The reason that most of us are unhappy most of the time is that we set our goals—not for the person we’re going to be when we reach them—we set our goals for the person we are when we set them.” – Dan Gilbert (via swissmiss)
“We don’t choose between experiences, we choose between memories of experiences. Even when we think about the future, we don’t think of our future normally as experiences. We think of our future as anticipated memories” – Daniel Kahneman (via zefrank)
“You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop.” “Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times. If your answer wouldn’t light up the eyes of a prospective client or command a vote of confidence from a satisfied past client, or — worst of all — if it doesn’t grab YOU, then you’ve got a big problem. – Tom Peters (via Fast Company) (emphasis added)
“A great man is one sentence.” – Clare Boothe Luce (via Daniel Pink)
In many businesses you hear people refer to the things the company sells as product, or material, or skus, or content. The abstraction of a burger or a mop, creates detachment between how the business thinks and how the customer thinks, resulting in a lack of accountability for the experience and value the customer receives. I cringe when I hear Suzanne Greco, Vice President Of Research & Development, SUBWAY refer to the things Subway sells as “product”. There is an intimacy we all must have with the things we sell, and customers don’t think about how great a Subway product would taste. The customer thinks in concrete and tangible terms and so should the businesses that hope to meet their needs. In Subway’s case they sell food, Sandwiches made of bread, lunch meat and cheese. Just listen to the video linked above and replace the word product with sandwich or bread. The interview in my opinion has a completely different feel using real and intimate terms. So, lose the abstraction, be real and intimate with the things you sell.