by Rajesh Kandaswamy | October 13, 2015 | Comments Off on What Does A 30-Story High Crane Have To Do With Technology Providers? Power Of Thinking Big!
This crane is expected to play a large role in reducing the cost of a $4 Billion bridge, while making the construction faster and safer. It shows that while scaling incrementally is not a bad thing, it can blind you to alternate solutions that uncover significant benefits differently.
A familiar sight for those crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York is this crane that is used to build the replacement bridge. Nicknamed ‘I Lift NY’, it can lift up to 1900 tons at once, equivalent to 12 statues of liberty. The cost of the crane was $50 million dollars, but it is expected to save many times more. It can do that because it allows builders to do things that cannot be done with even the best normal cranes today. For instance, it allows for pre-fabricating large bridge sections away from the water and installing them, instead of having to fabricate them onsite. It will also reduce the cost of removing the old bridge and the amount of dredging needed. As in many other industries, it would be fair to assume that normal cranes would have improved in performance and price over time. Those improvements would have helped those aspects of the construction plan. But, the ‘I Lift NY’ crane does not just improve elements of the plan, but changes the plan itself to do different things that lead to a jump in benefits.
Many providers I speak with emphasize incremental growth in their markets. Typically, they focus on a given product or a service to solve a problem, and growing its business incrementally. Most of their investments in innovation are predicated on incremental value of such solutions. As they grow, they expect to use scale to help identify additional value for their clients and themselves. That is a sound approach, but can be an incomplete one. It can blind you from alternate ways of solving a problem. An incremental approach in the example above leads to a search for a better conventional crane, but does not uncover the large benefits that is provided by this massive crane. When you plan investments for your solutions, economies of scale benefits should not be an afterthought. You should boldly seek if there are different and valuable benefits that will become available if you can build a large scale (in users or transactions) in what you offer. If they exist, it can lead you to drastically alter your solution or offer new ones. While I focused on scale here, it is not the only lever for such an analysis, but a key one, especially if you are interested in developing pre-built solutions for clients. How do you think about size and scale when you invest in solutions?
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