Software and BI, Repeating History

One of the books I’m reading is “The Age of Edison” by Ernest Freeberg. It describes the great technology transition of the late 1800s and early 1900s. I’m only to chapter three but on pages 60-61 there’s something that drives this blog post. The author quotes someone in Electric World (March 31, 1888) humorously describing the typical electric company sales pitch: “There are two kinds of electric lights, namely, our kind and the other fellow’s kind. Our light is much better than the other fellow’s light. The other fellow’s light is surrounded by a cloud of non-luminous verbosity.”

George Santayana said that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I’ll modify that. It’s necessary to remember, but not sufficient. You also need to learn from it. It’s one thing to note other people’s mistakes but another to have the self-reflection to notice you making those same mistakes.

The software industry is replete with those who think their new product is completely different than all others. How many times have you asked a founder or early sales person about their firm’s competition and received the answer “we have no competition!” Right…

Firms always have advantages, but every product has disadvantages too. It’s knowing the two and dealing with them appropriately that makes your messages stronger. The task is to minimize your non-luminous verbosity and help your market clearly understand the value you provide to them.

Remember history, minimize the marketspeil.

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