I recently had the opportunity to see Steve Case interviewed about his book "The Third Wave" and discuss the stark contrast between this next wave of digital transformation and the first two, which were the "Building of the Internet - First Wave" and the "App Economy and Mobile Revolution -Second Wave”.
Steve described the "Third Wave" as being driven by the Internet of Everything and that ubiquitous connectivity will allow entrepreneurs to transform major sectors of the economy like healthcare, education and government. And although disruptive technology will be a driver in this stage of the transformation as it was in the last, more will be required of organizations and entrepreneurs to be successful and cross the chasm towards mainstream adoption in this "Third Wave".
A chapter of the book is dedicated to "The Three P's" - Partnership, Policy and Perseverance”. And the advice in this chapter really resonated with my experiences with IT companies and partners.
Disruptive technology alone will not be enough in the "Third Wave". Entrepreneurs and organizations must strategically address inherent challenges bringing their solutions to broad scale adoption in regulated industries such as healthcare.
While working at both Microsoft and General Dynamics, I gained a deep appreciation for the power of the 3 P's and their importance in driving business outcomes, shareholder value and market share.
Let's take a look at each of The 3 P’s in greater depth.
Steve Case quotes the old African Proverb, "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together". Most technology companies recognize the importance of partnership and Microsoft built its business by creating the broadest ecosystem of partners in the industry. But being a partner and being relevant are not synonymous. As someone who has built channel and alliances for both startup and turnaround organizations and subsequently managed the channel for Microsoft's Public Sector, I can tell you being relevant and highly engaged should be your top priority. Organizations need to learn and place great emphasis on teaming, aligning to mutual priorities and operating principles and working together to a common objective to succeed. I'm here to tell you it's not always easy, and that egos need to be checked at the door. You cannot do it alone!
Since many sectors with the greatest opportunity for impact in the “Third Wave” will be regulated industries and sectors, understanding how to work side by side with Policymakers and Government elites will be critical to the success of solution adoption and use. Go to market strategies in areas like healthcare reform, education transformation and smart cities require an appreciation for regulatory issues, potential government funding sources, public-private partnerships and removing roadblocks created by outdated legislation.
Microsoft as an organization has learned the importance of good relationships with government and in recent years has made substantial investments in Civic and Government engagement. Some argue start-ups like Uber would be more successful by partnering with local governments. My experience has taught me the importance of government partnership. Working side by side with legislative and government officials can potentially lead to supported initiatives, potential funding and partner-to-partner collaboration.
I helped a company go mainstream in wireless and mobile computing before Wi-Fi and helped another company break into the government market, resulting in amazing growth. I can tell you from experience that success takes patience, perseverance and a commitment for the long haul. Everyone from the CEO to investors and shareholders needs to be supportive. I remember one former CEO getting impatient with the time required to gain traction in the Federal Government market and couldn't get his arms around the complexities of Federal procurement policies and sales cycles. If he had blown up the initiative, shareholders would have missed out on huge gains.
One CEO recently described his efforts in justice and public safety and shareholder expectation this way, “Getting rich quickly will be replaced by "getting rich slowly, but with profound impact". Organizations with the right approach will purposefully build customer loyalty and brand while making an impact for the greater good of society in the "Third Wave". This will not be for the faint of heart, but will require investment and the long term view.
Whatever your passion and purpose, the next wave of the digital revolution and technology adoption in this ubiquitous internet of everything, cloud based world promises to be the most exciting time ever. It’s time to buckle up and prepare your organization for success on this incredible journey!