Today we are surrounded with many buzzwords: AI, VR, AR, Blockchain, Bitcoin, Machine learning, etc. That may be very stressful, especially if you lead a company and choose which way to turn the wheel.
CEOs and top managers are under big pressure and afraid to make mistakes. No one knows which is the best direction or whether you should make a raise on a flop or 3-bet on a turn hoping to catch a full-house.
In “From Good to Great” Jim Collins states that technologies can’t the only key to build a Great company, same time technologies accelerate growth or failure.
Here, at VironIT we believe, that companies should focus on 3 key points:
- Your passion. What you really take care of.
- What you believe you can be the best at.
- The appropriate business model you live on.
Many companies, who failed had many CEOs with “outstanding innovations programs” which were inconsistent with the previous steps the company had made. So, consistency and perseverance often wins (as Chinese turture). By the way, my college-mate was trying to make a pass at the most beautiful girl at our class and got many denials, but in the end, after 5 years of attempts, they got married.
Let’s come closer to the point:
If you already have a viable product which brings profit, you should think which new technology can enrich your software or business to make “learning curve” higher for your competition.
For instance, if you have software which teaches how to drive tractors or excavators, you should definitely apply VR to your existent software.
If you are in the middle and want to make a pivot: I advise you to make an experiment and allocate the amount of budget you can for a side research. One of the key success of Israel startups is that the country invests heavily in R&D (4.25% of GDP).
– I get your point, I don’t have the right people on board.
Technical talent is a big issue everywhere. As Collin says in his “Good to Great”, “a company can grow as fast as its ability to hire the right people”.
What do we hear about looking for technical talent?
- Hire a good HR agency
- Ask among friends
- Do LinkedIn research
- Try outsourcing to India, get burned and try to outsource Eastern Europe
I will share our VironIT’s secret (we never published it online) on hiring savvy technical talent. “It is plain and evident, repeatable anywhere in the world.” We hire developers, who took part in programming contests: topcoder, international competitions, Olympiads, etc.
Why does it work?
As you don’t know the plot of your tomorrow’s day, you don’t know which tasks you have to cope with. Programming contests have non-trivial tasks to be solved within a short period of time. Programmers who are the best at such competitions can easily crack 95% of other “real-world” programming. They are usually smarter than the average developer, used to work under stressful conditions, fast-learners and self-confident.
For such developers, even if they are still undergraduates, within 1-2 weeks of diving into technology they outperform those who had been several years in the industry. Ofc, if you want to build a next MSQRD (the app created at hackathon and sold to Facebook within 3 months after its creation) that approach won’t work. MSQRD’s success story was based on 10 years of experience of one team members in facial recognition.
So, hiring some undergraduates with appropriate minds is:
We used that approach several times and never missed the target.
If you just have a raw unique idea: Where should you go? AI, VR, AR, Blockchain, Bitcoin, Machine learning, or maybe IOT? As Jobs said, “Do what you love”. As Collins says: “Do what you are passionate with”. I think all that buzz will bring your ship to some shore. You have to make the right answer to yourself: “Can you be the best at XXX”? where XXX is not only technology, it is more about the market industry or vertical market.
This year I attended Nassim Taleb’s speech, where he shared his thoughts on antifragile world. I liked the thought “making a bet on unknown”. You never know 100% percent the shore your reach with that flow. Making a bet on unknown can bring you either to positive “Black Swan” or you get nothing. A good try is better than regretting passing by on a deathbed.
But here is a trick.
The step you take should be consistent with the “core” of your business (unless you choose to open a new branch). It is quite easy to lose focus. “Great” companies also had “non-todo” lists and “immediately-stop-doing” lists. That is very important to say “no” to many good ideas to choose one “great” idea.
So, AI, VR, AR, Blockchain, Bitcoin, Machine learning what’s next big thing?
I think the next Big Thing is the right combination of well-known things in the right order, implemented by right people at the right time backed by right investors at the right market.