I've seen the scenario Wardley describes play out in my product areas and across IBM, where I work. However, most of the time, we've been able to look beyond sacred products and try new business models that on the surface could commoditize our most important products. These actions have typically helped grow the overall IBM revenue base and, in many cases, further increase the penetration of those sacred products. Looking beyond past success isn't easy for vendors, but it's critical for long-term viability.
IT departments must also fight inertia
There's another angle to consider before concluding that vendors simply follow their inertia -- which they do. However, customers also follow their own corporate IT inertia. This in turn makes it possible for vendors to continue viewing the market as they have in the past.
Whether it's past success or "just the way we do it here," many IT departments I've interacted with put a premium on existing process, technologies, skills, and buying preferences.
You can hardly blame IT leaders, considering the financial and, more important, skills investments that their companies have made with a given technology. However, as is evident when considering the fate of vendors that cling too closely to sacred products and inertia, I caution you to look beyond inertia when delivering value to the business in five years.
One approach to doing so is to allocate a portion the IT budget for projects and technologies that run counter to the IT department's technology and process inertia. Start with a less-critical project initially, and learn from unforeseen challenges before you apply these new technology choices throughout the IT department.
Developers, startups, and perennial early adopters don't let IT inertia get in the way. But companies that tend to fall into the early or late majority should also build plans to innovate outside of their comfort zones.
I should state: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions."
This article, "Why you need to get out of your technology comfort zone," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Savio Rodrigues's Open Sources blog and follow the latest developments in open source at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.