Many a great company has fallen by the wayside in failing to capture the next new thing…even when they knew what is was! Take Kodak. In 1987, Kodak had done extensive R&D on digital imaging and yet missed the boat…”protecting” it’s film-paper-chemicals franchise as 95pct of revenues while failing to feed the children…Digital cameras; web-based image archiving, storing, manipulating; retail kiosks; partnerships. the people I worked with at Kodak were emphatically not stupid.
Ditto HP. This proud company missed the Internet. Ditto Microsoft’s forays with Bing search and Zune players…web-based products brought forth after the games were won by Apple and Google. Kinda begs the question…why???
Some of the answer lies in how companies treat business opportunities that are 12-24 months from becoming material.
Start ups have an advantage here in that they put all the resources at their disposal in marketing, sales, services, and support to bear on their emerging material businesses. Forward thinking large companies put bright high potential talent in marketing, sales, and support on 12-balancing horizon businesses, balancing cost and resources demands against mature category business demands. But the losers get trapped in the fight for required resources where mature business leaders grab the resources. Their children need to be fed like their mature businesses, yet they receive lower priority from borrowed resources in marketing, sales, and support while being held to the same mature business performance criteria.