Shrinking the Innovation Inequality Gap

EqualityBlogPeople used to talk all the time about “million dollar ideas” and how all it took was having one innovative idea for a product and you could be set for life. Maybe that was true at some time in the past, but today, an idea alone is worth very little.

What’s worth a million dollars (or likely much, much more) today is getting that idea into consumers’ hands as quickly as humanly possible.

Andrew Dailey, director at MGI Research wrote an excellent column earlier this year, “It’s Time to Rethink Enterprise Applications” where he addressed this mandatory need for speed. Dailey writes:

Enterprise software projects that require an implementation time lasting more than a year are increasingly untenable given the velocity of the business cycle.

We have reached a point where no matter how complex an enterprise application is, if a new project takes longer than a year to implement, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify beginning or investing in it.

Dailey gives examples of how the speed at which Apple’s iPod and iPhone were designed and delivered “punished” Microsoft’s Zune and Blackberry, and how today, Uber, even amidst all of its controversy, was given a $40 billion valuation. These successes weren’t just ideas; others clearly even had the same idea, but because Apple got them to market faster than the competition, their competitors were left in the dust.

But even that’s no longer enough. Not only do you have to get your idea to market so that it can begin generating an ROI, you must constantly improve your offering through future release updates that anticipate business changes and the expectations of your software’s users—while never letting quality suffer due to focusing solely on speed.

And this is where innovation inequality rears its ugly head. You and your competitors all have great ideas for software that will delight internal and/or external end users. You’ve all got the best and brightest engineering and product teams who are ready to build, test, and deliver anything you and your customers dream up.

There’s only one problem.

Either your idea is outdated by the time you finally get it to market, or your competitor builds it in a fraction of the time it takes you, and starts reaping the rewards that could’ve been yours.

It happens every day. And the gaps in funding, market share, and even hiring talent between the haves and the have-nots grows wider and wider.

Fear not, though, as Dailey correctly points out, those who are “hell-bent on shrinking time to market” have the “massive enabler” of today’s technology to help them reach their goals.

One of the biggest bottlenecks that prevent enterprises from quickly turning innovative ideas into innovative products is the wait time around the provisioning and maintenance of complex development and test environments. When dev/test teams are forced to wait idly while hardware is purchased, setup, and then shared—that’s invaluable time lost against those using cloud-based environments that can be provisioned, spun up/down, or even cloned on-demand and in seconds, not weeks or months.

This wait time prevents innovation from ever seeing the light of day, and any software from the have-nots that does make it to production is likely to be one of three crippling things: late (again), short on features (again), or with bugs that weren’t caught due to insufficient time to test (you get the idea).

Cloud-based development and test environments are absolutely a “massive enabler” for any organization struggling to release their software on time, at a high level of quality, and with the features that will amaze your customers.

“Inequality” means a lot of things to a lot of people, but the inequality between those that consistently deliver innovation and those that do not is often easily solved. By adopting technologies like cloud-based dev/test environments, your development, test, and IT Ops teams become enabled to deliver real innovation and the spoils that often come with it.

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