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Humor from the Bleeding Edge of Technology

March 1, 2017

I’ve designed new products and processes for the last 30 years.  It has been a wild and wonderful ride, but I never noticed the humor quite as intensely as I do now.  I’m trying to commercialize a new oil field service.  Lots of people almost want to use our new service.  As one customer artfully put it,

“Do you have any off-the-shelf innovation?”

Off-the-shelf products are commodities.  They are cheap, widely used and broadly accepted.  I love the comment behind the question.  Customers love the idea of innovation and they want to get more for less.  They don’t like the reality of exploration.  They don’t want to take a step into the unknown..unless their neighbor has been there first.


In fact, no one will criticized them for buying a standard off-the-shelf product.  You actually get sympathy if the standard product no longer works for you.  “Sigh.  Too bad.  You did all you could.”  Doing the same-old-thing is a socially acceptable way to fail.

Another vendor put it this way,

“Everyone wants the be first to be third.”

I like that comment too.  The subtext is, “Sure you’ve used your product somewhere over there, but have you used it over here under my particular conditions?”  Customers are telling me where they stand on the balance between risk and reward.  Anything they have not tried implies some risk.  They are saying there are lots of ways to fail, and they want security more than they want increased performance.  Customers want my new product..right after they see their neighbor use it.

Fair enough.  We’ll live with that.  We’ll discount our product and then raise the price.  Everyone gets our off-the-shelf discount. 😉

That is fair too.

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