Occasionally, new markets spring from technological leaps that create huge improvements in tackling well-known challenges. At least as frequently, though, the companies that push these new solutions intp the market find themselves solving for problems that customers scarcely recognize.
When I led one of the world's first smartphone development programs, for Britain's Psion PLC in the late 1990s, we had dazzling technology. You could send a fax from a PDA! But we seldom paused to nail down the exact question we were trying to answer. As a smallish, albeit cutting-edge, company in a rapidly-moving market, we had to be precise about what we would and would not try to do. Yet we were bewitched by our cool solutions, and utterly flummoxed by how people could flock to a bare-bones PDA (Palm) or a primitive two-way pager that could send some e-mails (the Blackberry). It was a hard lesson to learn.
In my piece for Forbes, I lay out when asking the right question matters, and how to ask it in a broad yet rigorous way. Companies that thrive in new markets not only have good solutions, but they apply them to precisely the right problem.
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