Tag Archives: David Pogue

The Chevy Volt and Nuance (Dragon NaturallySpeaking) – Some Thoughts on Innovation

Innovation:
1: the introduction of something new
. 2: a new idea, method, or device: novelty.

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Do you know the one indispensable business need of this era?  Here it is:  you’d best be really good at constant innovation, and a drive for constant, perpetual improvement.  If you are not, you will be left behind – in the blink of an eye.

Here are two pieces worth reading to reinforce this one undeniable reality.  The first is in the New York Times, about the constant improvement in dictation software.  The other is about the advent of the Chevy Volt.

#1 – even with a virtual monopoly, you still need to constantly innovate. The customers demand it, expect it, and if you don’t someone else might come along and pass you by.  That is the story of Nuance, the Dragon NaturallySpeaking company.  In Reliable Dictation, Down to a ‘T’ by David Pogue, there are details about the way the company continues to refine its dictation software’s smarts.  After a number of specifics, the article ends with this line:

Yes, Nuance has a near-monopoly in the speech-recognition game, but it’s nice to see it making steady improvements and price cuts as if it didn’t.

#2 – don’t panic about the pricetag of the Chevy Volt.  Less expensive models will arrive in the blink of an eye.

In The Volt Jolt: Electric cars like Chevy’s new Volt are too expensive today, but they won’t be for long by Daniel Gross, we read about the hefty price (really, really hefty) for the very first automobiles, and then their steady move downward.  The first cars cost four times the average household income of the day, whereas the Chevy Volt, though really pricey, is below the current average household income.

The price went all the way down to $260 in 1925, "the least that would ever be charged for a new American car."

The article gives a quick summary of the march of price-lowering progress, including the first Macintosh which cost $2000, and had a floppy disk, very little memory, and a tiny, puny screen; and the success of the Model T, and its steadily decreasing price tag.  Gross is convinced that history and our commitment to innovation promise a similar plummeting of price for the electric car in the months/years to come. Here are key excerpts:

Electric cars like Chevy’s new Volt are too expensive today, but they won’t be for long by Daniel Gross, we read about the hefty (really, really hefty) of the very first automobiles, and then their steady move downward.  The first cars cost three to four times the average household income of the day, where as the Chevy Volt, though really pricey, is below the current average household income.

The article gives a quick summary of the march of price lowering progress, including the first Macintosh which cost $2000, and had a floppy disk, very little memory, and a tiny, puny screen, and the success of the Model T, and its steadily decreasing price tag, and promises a similar plummeting for the electric car in the months/years to come. Here’s a key paragraph:

Now, of course, Ford’s achievement with the Model T was one for the ages. His manufacturing advances were quantum leaps. But auto manufacturers have continued to innovate, develop efficiencies, and offer drivers more for less. The story of our modern age is better performance, better equipment, and better materials for less money. A few years ago, I went to buy a bicycle for the first time in a decade and was shocked to see how far my money could go. Compare the bicycle you can buy today for $300 with one you would have paid $300 for five or 10 years ago. By the same token, a $25,000 car today comes loaded with features that would have been unimaginable five or 10 years ago.

The key phrase in all of this: The story of our modern age is better performance, better equipment, and better materials for less money. In other words, innovation is constant, and making many things (every thing) better, and then better yet, again and again — for less money is the new normal.

Navigating the Social Networking Era

It is hard to keep up.  It may be harder by the day.  (On the other hand, it may get easier.  I can only hope!)

But, the more there is to keep up with, the more flitting we become.  We flit from fad to trend to web site to social networking venue to…

In Groundsell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, Charlene LI and Josh Bernoff tell us that the one thing all of these trends/fads/sites have in common is that it takes the power away from companies and corporations and “established power” and puts it into the hands/thumbs of individuals.  Here’s a key quote:

Thousands of corporate executives are now dealing with a trend we call the groundswell, a spontaneous movement of people using online tools to connect, take charge of their own experience, and get what they need – information, support, ideas, products, and bargaining power – from each other.  The groundswell is broad, ever shifting, and ever growing.  It encompasses blogs and wikis; podcasts and YouTube; and consumers who rate products, buy and sell from each other, write their own news, and find their own deals.  It’s global.  It’s unstoppable.  It affects every industry – those that sell to consumers and those that sell to businesses – in media, retail, financial services, technology, and health care.  And it’s utterly foreign to the powerful companies and institutions – and their leaderships – that run things now.

Simply put, the groundswell is a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other instead of from companies.  If you’re in a company, this is a challenge.

(By the way, Karl is presenting his synopsis of the new Charlene Li book, Open Leadership:  How social technology can transform the way you lead, tomorrow morning at the First Friday Book Synopsis).

So – here is the challenge.  For those of us who do not take to all of these social networking sites so naturally, we have to learn how to use them and take advantage of them.  But the folks growing up on them make those adaptations a little easier than we do.

{In one sense, it is a true reversal of the natural order of things.  For all of history, the older folks knew more than the younger folks.  We used words like novices and journeymen.  Now, the novices are the older folks, and the journeymen are the younger folks.  I remember in the dominant days of Nokia in an earlier chapter — the “cell phone era” instead of the current “smart phone era” — reading that Nokia executives learned about cell phone usage by watching their young children use the cell phones.  Such is this strange new world that we live in…}

So, Good News!  Here is a quick read to help us all out.  It is a top most e-mailed article from the NY Times at the moment: STATE OF THE ART:  For Those Facebook Left Behind, by David Pogue.  It is a quick guide to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and a few other social networking sites.  It is accessible, readable, understandable.

Here are a couple of important excerpts:

As a public service, therefore, I’m offering a handy clip-’n’-save guide to the social networking services you’re most likely to hear about at this summer’s barbecues. (Warning: This is an extremely basic overview. If you’re already someone who, you know, tweets, this will all seem like old news. But it’s not intended for you.)

These services all have a few things in common. They’re all free. They’re all confusing at first. They all require time to understand and exploit. You can interact with them from your cellphone, which is part of why they’re so popular.

And he ends his article with this:

THE BOTTOM LINE
These sites all derive their power the same way: We, the people, provide the information — not the Web site owner. Some of these services establish lines of communication between people who might otherwise never meet, joining them by interest rather than geography. Others connect you with people you do know, or once knew, so that you can help each other out.
You may find absolutely nothing of value to you in these sites, and that’s fine. But isn’t it better to make that decision now that you know what you’re ignoring?
Happy tweeting!

For some of us, we feel awash in an ocean that seems strange, almost unnavigable.  For many others, they are a little more at ease – and the advantages are enormous.

Here’s the sad thing. For people like me, we need to have Charlene Li and David Pogue explain all of this to us.  For those who swim in this ocean so naturally, they don’t need Charlene Li at all.  I envy those folks.