Technology ≠ Product
With so many geek-run companies and former startups nowadays every company aims to become a “technology company”, hires plenty of researchers and opens R&D Departments. And while those are important, more and more often they fail to deliver but not because of a lack on creating great technology but by falling short in developing it into a product.
Being a software engineer myself I know the most fun part in programming (and that is the same for many fields of research as well) is when you tackle the really big problem and eventually solve it by creating this amazing new technology. But once implemented this isn’t really interesting for research anymore, the problem is solved, the technology is there, and many researchers move on. In too technology-driven company, what happens at this point often is, that they release this technology to the market and see whether people like it and only if people do, do they continue working on it.
But this exactly where so many technoly companies fall short. By focussing on this aspect of technology you miss your chance with the user. Because simply many users don’t understand what that technology does and how to apply it in a way that it actually solves their problem. To give a simple example: a diesel engine is a technology - a great one for its time. Using gasoline to make movements many times the speed and power of steam engines. And as so many other technology it has plenty of fields where that can be applied: in cars, in ships, as power generators. But if you released just this thing to the public only very few would have understood its power. Instead what you did is you manufactured a car around it, with wheels, a stearing wheel, breaks, seating and a trunk. And suddenly this technology made sense: it allows you to move faster and longer than with a commonly known horse buggy.
Though this technology was way more powerful and showed it had many more appliances, breaking it down to a case the common person understands and a problem he would be willing pay money for getting fixed made its breakthru. But that required more than just the technology itself, it required a surrounding package that applied the technology and formed it into a product. This what I mean when I am talking about “product creation” - creating or applying technology in a way that it solves a problem for a certain person. And this is something plenty of companies in the “technology” field are lacking: a few for real life problems and ways to apply their technology.
By the way, a great case of a product creation driven technology company is Amazon. If you do not understand what I mean, watch Brad MacCarthy’s (CTO of Amazon) talk at thenext web: “Amazon is a technology company. We just happen to do retail.”