In Crossing the Chasm, Mr. Moore successfully argues that new technologies first attract customers who love technology, and will try anything. If you succeed with that group, you will next attract visionary customers who will want to use the technology to steal a march on their competitors. After that comes the chasm, getting into broad acceptance. Many technologies never make it. The method to cross is described in Inside the Tornade as the bowling alley. You pick a few key segments that may reflect the needs of other segments. By providing custom solutions for these segments, you create a ricochet effect into striking good solutions for other niches. The analogy is to the way that after the bowling ball first hits the one and three pins (for right handers) and then continues on to take out the five pin, those three pins hit the pins behind them, which in turn go backward to take out the pins in the final row, until you have a strike.
The tornado is the period of mass market acceptance. This is when there is a lot of demand as everyone who decides about infrastructure adopts the new standard simultaneously. You have to standardize, get your costs down, and ship at low prices. Your strategy is just the opposite of the bowling alley period. The metaphor here is to the tornado in the Wizard of Oz that sweeps Dorothy, Toto, and her house from Kansas to Oz.
Then comes Main Street, when the market demand is now filled and you are looking at "aftermarket development, when the base infrastructure has been deployed and the goal now is to flesh out its potential." You once again focus on segments, and create custom solutions.
The final period is End of Life, when "wholly new paradigms come to market and supplant the leaders who themselves had only just arrived." In essence, you start a new technology cycle. The best companies (like Intel) will do this to themselves.
The book also describes the importance of becoming the gorilla who will have about 50 percent market share and earn 75-80 percent of industry profits as a result of dominating the tornado period. Gorillas are made during the tornado. Oracle is described as an example.
During the bowling alley your company needs to be very good at product leadership and customer intimacy, during the tornado you need to shift to product leadership combined with operational excellence, and in Main Street the focus is on operational excellence and customer intimacy. This thinking will remind you of the book, The Discipline of Market Leaders, and the work of Dr. Adizes. Most companies will not be agile enough to make these transitions. Examples abound in the book. Apple's example will hit home with you, I'm sure.
As to the Internet, things are different. In the original book, the Internet is only mentioned three times. In the introduction here, Mr. Moore says that the "Internet market tornado, however, is so powerful that it has sucked all four models into its vortex." Companies are succeeding simultaneously in different parts of the Internet space at the same time with each of the strategies outlined here.
In the future, I think technologies will evolve more like the Internet has. During these evolutions, I think that business model discontinuities will be more important than technology discontinuities. While you can only put technology discontinuities in during parts of the cycle (never during the tornado), business model shifts can occur at any stage. Also, it is easier to shift business models than to shift technologies. Business model shifts affect your own operations more than customers, while technologies have a large impact on customers. My current work is focused on how the two need to interact with one another, which is not addressed here.
After you have read this excellent book, I suggest that you consider the organizational planning issues required to create such a multi-faceted effectiveness. For example, you may find it easier to have two organizations. One will focus on creating custom solutions, while another focuses on mass market solutions. In that way, you can hedge your bets with predicting the timing of each phase.
May you always focus your attention on the most important activities required by the markets you serve!
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