As we talk about technology and how it is advancing, too often we place a myopic view just on what is happening inside of our companies. Yes, the needs of business do tend to drive innovation and improvements in information technology. That being said, these improvements seldom connect with users on a personal level. After all do you or your co-workers think about your computers, servers, network, or applications when you leave the office? Not likely.
It is the connection with consumers that has propelled companies like Apple
and Samsung to such economic success. Why? Because they make
products like tablets (iPad, Galaxy) and smartphones that really excite
people. As odd as it sounds, I have literally watched VP-level colleagues
continually caress their iPhones for hours at a time (during meetings).
Microsoft developed the in-vehicle technology called "Sync" which has
also revolutionized how people use technologies while in motion. Being
deployed exclusively in Ford vehicles, Sync has likely added a percentage or
two of market share to Ford Motor Company.
The correlation of consumer appeal and profitability cannot be overstated
when it comes to technology. If you can find some way to make people
emotionally excited about your app or device, expect to get very, very
rich. I don't really need to do much to make my point. Should I
just say: Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, or David Karp?
Let me tell you the most secret of all secrets for Intel, AMD, and the whole
hardware industry. When it comes to advances in technology, especially
the Internet, you need to look at video games. Yes, games are the
single-most significant driver of advancements within information technology
and always have been. I've heard people argue back to me, saying that
email and ERP applications have played a much more significant part in the
advancement of technology. I think not.
Since I'm making a very bold assertion now is the time that you should
expect proof. So here it is fresh off the press. This week a video
game company called "RockStar Games" released the fifth iteration of
their hit game "Grand Theft Auto", creatively named "Grand Theft
Auto V". In the first 24 hours of release this game grossed over
$800 million in sales. Two days after that the total sales have eclipsed
the $1 billion mark. (http://www.joystiq.com/2013/09/20/grand-theft-auto-5-sales-surpass-1-billion/)
Since we're talking about an entertainment product, here is another piece of
perspective for you. The most monetarily successful movie of all time was
James Cameron's "Avatar". After several years of release and
DVD sales, Avatar finally reached a gross sales mark, worldwide, of about $2.8
Of course the profit margin for "Avatar" was only $1.12 billion (http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/records/budgets.php)
but that was further halved by a $500 million dollar intellectual property suit
against the producers.
Can you name any of the acting/voice talent in Grand Theft Auto V? I
can't either (no cheating by looking at the packaging!) The game is going
to make as much as Avatar (or more) and most of the revenue will become profit.
There is a lesson to be learned from the interest people show in games and
by the money they are willing to pay for them. As technologists, both
practitioners, managers, coaches, and executives, we should pay very close
attention to how games are driving the advancement of technology within our
corporations. As we design our IT road maps, we should always be thinking
about the human component and the incredible power of personal engagement.
The more personalized we can make our products and services, the more our
customers (internal and external) will engage themselves in the technologies we
Happy customers = Successful CIOs