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[ba-ohs-talk] Marketing Software, Killer App and OHS

Keven,     (01)

Commenting on your insightful letter submitted on 020218....    (02)

Kevin Keck wrote:
> on 2002/02/18 10:36 AM, Johannes Ernst at jernst@r-objects.com wrote:
> > [...]
> > I mostly hear the price argument in the context of OHS, but that
> > can't be all of it -- just changing the list price in different
> > countries, or for different purchasers (e.g. schools) would solve
> > that issue as well, and does not necessarily imply Open Source. So
> > what is it about OHS that requires Open Source? I appreciate your
> > insights ...
> As you seem to imply, it's not clear that open source is a requirement so
> much as it's clear that it's an easy win along a number of dimensions. But
> the importance of such wins shouldn't be underestimated.    (03)

In order for open source to "win" it must produce something that advances beyond
IT as called out by Larry Elision at a conference in Paris on 970222....    (04)

http://www.welchco.com/sd/08/00101/02/97/02/22/133607.HTM#L241657    (05)

The next step in the evolution of technology is to advance from information to a
culture of knowledge, and at this time this proven elusive, as reported on
011003....    (06)

http://www.welchco.com/sd/08/00101/02/01/10/03/160603.HTM#L702361    (07)

> Andy Grove proposes the "10X" rule of thumb, the estimation that a
> potentially disruptive technology needs to be at least ten times better than
> the incumbent in order to overcome market momentum and the edge created by
> Metcalf's Law (network effects). Since a factor of ten is quite a handicap,
> the challenger is well-advised to expoit every gimmick at their
> disposal--and as gimmicks go, Open Source is a pretty good one.*    (08)

Drucker made a similar observation about 10x...    (09)

> But more critically, it's important to understand that this "10X" hurdle is
> not just objective but is subjective: the consumer must perceive the 10X
> benefit. And for reasons I haven't found well articulated yet, but which is
> readily confirmed by seemingly everyone who's ever tried to market software
> to people, it is usually impossible for people to make such an estimation of
> the value of a piece of software in any other way than to try using it. This
> is more than just observing that there's a learning curve and switching
> cost--Doug appreciated and sketched the theory for those pretty well quite
> some time ago. The point I'm trying to emphasize here is that not only can
> people not use the tool effectively until they've had a chance to learn it,
> but they can't even judge its merit until they've had a chance to use it,
> first-hand. It's hard to remember (or admit) now, but back in '94 or '95
> almost nobody could appreciate Mosaic or the WWW based on any description or
> explanation of it, or even based on a live demonstration--nearly everybody
> had to sit down at the keyboard and mouse and experience "surfing the web"
> first-hand in order to fully comprehend its utility and significance. On
> paper and second-hand it seemed so mundane, esoteric and/or simplistic; only
> by sitting down and using it could anyone be expected to fully "get it",
> that it was indeed a critical mass of functionality which constituted a new
> "killer app".    (010)

This excellent analysis aligns pretty well with discussion in the record on
Doug's OHS/DKR group summarized in a letter on 001004.....    (011)

http://www.welchco.com/04/00067/61/00/10/0401.HTM#HH5K    (012)

...and citing POIMS explaining the KM dilemma that the goals of KM (by extension
OHS/DKR) to advance beyond IT, are at war with human mental biology, commonly
called "common sense".....    (013)

http://www.welchco.com/03/00050/01/09/01/02/00030.HTM#3385    (014)

So, the issue becomes how to trick people into investing time for good
management to save time and money, re-stating Grove's point reported on 980307
that people prefer to work on familiar things in familiar ways no matter how
much it costs, up to about 10X, as you point out.....    (015)

http://www.welchco.com/sd/08/00101/02/98/03/07/161448.HTM#3740    (016)

> And OHS's largely collaborative focus only amplifies the need for
> minimal-risk trial, because in order for anyone to genuinely try using it
> they'll need to have collaborators using it with them, all of whom would
> need to endorse the risks of money, time, and potential vendor lock-in
> associated with trying out a proprietary product.    (017)

This point seems to conflict with the record showing Doug Engelbart's goal is to
augment intelligence.  On 010428 Gary Johnson pointed out that intelligence
begins with individuals....    (018)

http://www.welchco.com/sd/08/00101/02/01/04/08/091208.HTM#L110714    (019)

...which opens the prospect that individuals can be aided by a KM-type
technology, without the suggested burden of requiring collaborating colleagues. 
There is undoubtedly significant savings in time and expense from using this
capability to build and maintain shared meaning through organizational memory
that reduces bumbling, but this is quite different from the view that OHS/DKR
entails a bunch of people interacting with a single software program and a
central server somewhere.        (020)

> Furthermore, the improvement to productivity will be greatest between
> collaborators with the fewest other tools or mechanisms for collaboration at
> their disposal (such as geographically-dispersed, informally affiliated
> groups with little budget for clerical and administrative assistance) and
> who are less worried about missing deadlines than they are about maintaining
> sustained co-participation despite such resource limitations. In other
> words, the easiest users to recruit would be among the very most difficult
> groups of people to win as paying customers.    (021)

Experience seems to show that the biggest improvement to productivity, earnings
and stock prices comes from adding intelligence to management of big
organizations, because culture that magnifies fear of accountability also
magnifies bumbling from taking conflicting actions by relying on guess and
gossip in meetings, cell phones and email. This creates a huge target of
opportunity for improvement.  Adding just a little intelligence has an
exponential effect of enabling complementary action, as explained in POIMS....    (022)

http://www.welchco.com/03/00050/01/09/01/02/00030.HTM#8536    (023)

> In summary, you're right, no, it's not really so much about price/cost. But
> before you'll be able to make any case that people should expect to pay for
> it, you'll first need to convince them that they really want it.
> At least, that's my take on it.    (024)

Agree.  People have to be convinced that good management to work intelligently
saves time and money.  As long as people are getting by without improving work
practices demand for KM is latent.  There are window shoppers here and there,
but no real customers.  Only when too many people start to have to too many
problems using the methods they feel comfortable using, as reported on
001207....    (025)

http://www.welchco.com/sd/08/00101/02/00/12/07/145932.HTM#L431413    (026)

....and when personal safety is threatened, as on 010911.....    (027)

http://www.welchco.com/sd/08/00101/02/01/09/11/130441.HTM#L2910    (028)

...and perhaps when people productivity is paralyzed in a quagmire of
information overload using the methods they like, as Eric Armstrong reported on
001003....    (029)

http://www.welchco.com/sd/08/00101/02/01/10/03/160603.HTM#L702202    (030)

....then enabling forces begin to align that create a window of opportunity
where people connect the dots and say, "Hey, lets give it a try.  What have we
got to lose."     (031)

Rod    (032)