I'm a firm believer that the difference between a good idea and a great idea is getting the timing right. There are a number of items to consider when deciding when is the right time to bring an innovation to market.
- Is there a technology coming that will transform the experience/market?
- Are customers ready to accept and adopt this innovation?
- Is the sales channel mature enough to support the introduction of a new innovation?
- Can you bring it all together at a price that will drive broad adoption?
It takes management discipline (and support) to hold off. The constant mantra of “not yet” can wear on even the most resilient of executives. But getting the timing wrong can mean being way ahead of the market and the result is a quickly forgotten bump in the innovation landscape.
Let's take the new slate form factor as real-world example. The timeline for the slate that we've been working on is as follows:
- Nov 1998 Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) Research Group – “Virtual Book“
- May 2004 – HP Labs unveils “E-Book”
- July 2007 – Public video demonstration of “HP Labs E-Book Device”
- August 2009 – Video of device form factor discussion including slate
- January 5, 2010 – Video of my annual predictions for CES (including a prediction of the slate category)
- January 6, 2010 – Video showing highlights of the HP slate device
- January 7, 2010 – Video of the reveal of the HP slate at CES
- January 10, 2010 – Video at following CES reviewing how well I did on my predictions
- January 25, 2010 – Video demonstration of the slate device deep dive
Only time will tell if any given innovation is getting the timing right.