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Hurdles to Innovation, Part 5

Originally published April 10, 2008

In past articles, we have seen that corporations and venture capitalists were difficult places for the innovator to go for the resources required to develop an idea or a product. We have discussed angel investors, and their advantages and disadvantages. We looked at the strategy of consulting to support living expenses while development is ongoing, and how, although this strategy is plausible and viable, it is painful and fraught with dangers.

All of these factors are a real drag on innovation. Collectively, they do not bode well for the immediate future of technology. Because of these factors, in coming years, there will not be the wealth of new technologies and innovations that have been forthcoming in the past. And all of us – technicians, consumers, and everyone else – will be poorer for it.

Furthermore, these factors will affect the types of new technologies to be developed.

The real dilemma in the development of new innovations is in the support of the developers while they are doing their “thing.” There are bills to pay and food to be purchased while the development process is occurring. There simply are not the resources to pay for these basic expenses during the development phases of products.

The natural result is that the faster the development process can be done, the more realistic the project becomes for developers. If you are going to ask a person to hold his or her breath, it is one thing to ask that person to hold his or her breath for sixty seconds. It is another thing to ask that person to hold his or her breath for an hour.

Therefore, the new kinds of technologies to be developed will be technologies that have a limited scope and reach. Developing a project on a personal computer with two or three people over six months will be doable. Developing an enterprise solution that requires a very large processor, many programs, and ten to twenty people will be almost impossible. The lack of resources for development will ensure that large innovative projects will simply not be possible. (Or, if by some chance these innovations are built, there will be special circumstances surrounding the funding of these efforts. Large and lengthy development projects simply will not be the norm.)

The prediction is, then, that in the future, the new innovations will be on a very small scale as far as the enterprise is concerned. But does this mean that there is no need – no marketplace – for the large scale solutions and innovations? Of course not. The large scale innovations will be needed, along with the smaller scale solutions. It’s just that no one – no innovator – will be building them.

And this has not been the norm in the high tech industry ever before. Innovative solutions are needed in every place. The advance of technology has been halted, at least in one major sector.

  • Bill InmonBill Inmon

    Bill is universally recognized as the father of the data warehouse. He has more than 36 years of database technology management experience and data warehouse design expertise. He has published more than 40 books and 1,000 articles on data warehousing and data management, and his books have been translated into nine languages. He is known globally for his data warehouse development seminars and has been a keynote speaker for many major computing associations.

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