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May 26, 2005


I have some problem with the notion of "innovative companies". Do they really exist? The examples given seem much more to relate a "new" business model to an active marketing campaign. Innovation comes from (groups of) people and whether or not a company allows them as part of the overall strategy.

Every software engineer knows the maxim: "give them what they need, don't give them what they want".

Some examples might be added to the list, all of which I think are not purely innovative, although well integrated in the company's overall strategy:

- easyjet.com: Initial success came from "internet bookings only" and, what most users liked, an extremely simple website.
- ING direct: A popular formula for saving money using an internet account. Not very innovative, but well executed.
- TomTom (recently a listed company): they sell a GPS device for in the car. Works out of the box. Neither GPS, nor GPS software is extremely innovative, that it works without too much fuzz might be. (The Garmin on my bike also works without too much fuzz).

An exception may be DGT projects (a friend of mine runs it). DGT stands for Digitial Game Timer and the initial idea was to replace analog clocks in two person games (one person makes a move, stops his clock such that the opponent's clock starts running). Again not terribly innovative technically speaking, and most of the innovation consists of making the clock as simple as possible. The business became extremely successful after striking some deals with major users (e.g. the international chess federation). DGT projects claims to be a company that turns innovative ideas into products.

Carla V

Thanks for your comment! I think you're right, a good idea (innovation) is not enough, it needs marketing so others know about it. Something new is not interesting when nobody uses it. Timing is an issue as well.

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