We're witnessing and explosive time of strategic creative intent from the major social networks attempting to keep their subscribers and attract new ones with a proliferation of announcements. These announcements and their intent is aimed at keeping or gaining market position. Consider the following:
- Linkedin announces a remake of its web site to have the look and feel of Web 2.0
- Facebook launches its Ad Marketing Engine then gets dogged by the media for revealing user data
- Google Launches Open Social and creates a collaborative appeal by many networks
- MSN launches a new mobile ad platform targeting the emerging mobile space and invest in Facebook
- Yahoo announces convergence of many of their applications to a Web 2.0 look and feel
The intents are to ride the wave, and in some cases create the wave, facilitated by the emergence of the social web. Many of these announcements are aimed at positioning around the wave of adoption and attempting to create strategic differential over competition. As the social web converges independent networks must focus on creating their strategic differential aimed at serving specific market segments with creative functions, features and market positions. So, just how creative are the current strategic moves by some of the larger players?
Creativity is the source of new possibilities for the social web. It is also the driving force behind change, adaptation and evolution. In some cases it is the breakthrough that sets networks apart from one another and creates a clear path of value to the end user. Innovation follows creativity however without producing innovation creativity simply becomes a "me-to" footrace. While we are witnessing several creative strategic moves in the marketplace as well as releases of some creative functions and features to networks, users are still waiting for the next new innovation. So what new innovation will current competitors bring as a result of their attempts at creativity?
The Beal Institute reports "In tactical innovation, the difference between one product or service and another is a matter of degrees - beating out competitors in speed-to-market, for example, can give a company a (temporary) lead in a new product category. The 'me-too' footrace that follows innovative product releases is a tactical effort to compensate for a shortage of strategic vision. No company, howsoever fast, can ride a bandwagon into the history books."
"Innovation today is in a crisis of purpose. Incremental improvements to existing products and small steps taken to protect and defend one slice of an ever-more crowded market - these endeavors are attempts to mitigate problems that threaten a business. While innovation methodologies abound, the traditional motivation for innovation is rooted in - and stems from - competitive pressures. Innovation for competitive advantage encourages an Innovation Problem Framework, leading to a stunted innovation process in which the limits of what can be achieved are already defined at the outset of the innovation process. A defensive, problem-oriented approach to innovation as a response to competitive pressure is no longer sufficient or desirable."
What is an "Innovation?"
"The popular concept of what constitutes an "innovation" usually encompasses technological breakthroughs and new products. This definition is limiting and inhibits the imagination, for in truth the scope of possibility for innovation can extend well beyond our established notions of the term itself. It falls to our capabilities as innovative individuals to define and re-define the term through our organized explorations of what could be possible in any chosen domain."
"The latent innovation potential that lies in every individual can be - and must be - mobilized and leveraged to produce new pre-competitive value for corporations, which in turn can influence quality of life for humanity. Bringing forth the latent innovator in individuals towards this goal requires not just effective management, but leadership qualities as well."
If innovation lies in every individual and the social web extends reach and richness to individuals do you think the current and future network leaders should tap into the power of the collective individuals?
The Kano model of customer satisfaction follows three forms of satisfaction. Must be's, more is better and delighters. Delighter's typically come from functions and features not present but when introduced create user delight. Delight follows true innovation.
It seems as though the current market is more focused on the "more is better" with little attention be given to "delighters". On the other hand maybe users are just happy getting the "more is better" because there seems to be a lack of innovation from the network operators. The next disruptive move may just come from a market leader, existing or yet to be introduced, that produces real innovation aimed at "delighting" the end user. But then again that would require a leader who pays close attention to the voice of the users. Who may that be?
What say you?