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(May 30, 2007) Innovation ranges across a pretty broad spectrum from universal cultural alteration (like the Internet, planes or indoor plumbing) to broad process improvement (the browser, jet engines or flush toilets) to nuanced incrementals (free email, in flight movies or non-abrasive toilet paper). On the practical users' end of things, it's the small nuanced incrementals that matter. If, for example, RSS were to really take off as a user tool, it would need some user friendliness (softer and fluffier).
What makes innovations percolate (some call this viral marketing bit the terminology is not very helpful), is ease of access, ease of use, bang for the buck and resource requirements. The last item, resource requirements, is my attempt to get at the overall cost of using something. Pricing is an important part of the innovation stream.
TCO calculations have become widespread but are totally biased towards the product and never reflect the real costs of using a new tool. Money out of pocket is the tiniest part of the introduction of a product that requires change management to make it work. The implications of change are hard to quantify but are the very real costs associated with doing something new.
Even toilet paper took a bit of change management.
In the emerging universe of always-on-personal-media, this sort of sensitivity and the costs associated with managing it are a part of the game. Remember Kristi Young from yesterday's article? Her blog is a fantastic example of the related issues of identity management, personal disclosure, and changing public/private boundaries. It's really not dissimilar from the question of how to market TP. One more social barrier falls prey to changing times. (Oh, and here's her Jobster profile for those who noticed the missing link)
Sometimes, the introduction to a piece takes on a life of its own. The last salvo was a workup to a short bit of information about a new offering called Ditchmail. It's service provided by "YouMail", a clever voicemail management tool. You mail provides the capability to manage voice mail messaging on a per number basis. You can leave clear working messages for your project team while telling the rest of the world that you are on vacation. You can tell your Mom that you love her and ensure that she's the only one who gets that voice mail. You can program separate messages for an infinite number of boyfriends, disgruntled applicants and so on.
And then, there's Ditchmail. This part of the offering gives you the ability to leave a customized message for a specific phone number while refusing to take a message. It's really handy in complex breakups, personal misunderstandings and relationships that you want to close out.
The thing we liked about the video resume on Kristi's site was the way it realistically dealt with identity management issues. The world is vastly more complex because of the freedoms and capabilities we've been given. Youmail and Ditchmail offer a glimpse of the real customization we're about to see.
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