innovating is tricky because of … innovation

This article sums up the future quandary facing more and more companies, shareholders and investors quite well: what to expect is ever more difficult to predict. Part of this is also the huge pace at which innovations enter the market, scaling production of your ‘solid’ invention to meet (likely) demand is a very costly affair and what if a few months from now someone will do the same cheaper or better? This risk is unassessable even if one is a high tech industry expert. Because even the best tech experts cannot predict that people will spend up to four times the money on an iphone rather than on an android phone with similar or even better capabilities. Take Elon Musk’s  gigafactory where he plans to build batteries at huge volumes: the risk isn’t that there isn’t a market, the risk is that someone else will figure out a way to produce either better or cheaper batteries. Just a few days ago, tech media reported that a company called 24m says it can produce lithium ion batteries (the rechargeable ones) far, far more cheaply than is now possible. The quandary facing manufacturers like Musk is to wonder if 24m is a real threat, if 24m is for sale and if so, if it’s worth purchasing, if existing facilities can be retrofitted, if others are developing similarly disruptive technologies? In the mix of unknowns, the answer is a very complex one and even a good answer only may have a half time of a few months. That is not a timeframe to organise huge efforts around.  This really is fascinating territory, thanks for a great thought provoking post, Richard.