I’m becoming a fan of standards

I never thought I would, structure and constraints aren’t really my gig.  However after reading some of the great blogs by Simon Wardley, trying to deal with an industry that doesn’t have any currently and some personal experiences, I’m changing my stance.

At a personal level, i’ve just completed my second order through Charles Trywhitt for business shirts. Yep i buy my shirts online (you should too, they are bloody good shirts, bloody cheap) . I CAN do this because unlike woman’s clothes there are standards, much to my wife’s annoyance.  Same collar size, sleeve length and chest the world over. Aka a standard. I can buy the shirt trusting it will fit. (apparently due to the advent of vanity sizes -aka lying to the lady about her true size – this is no longer the case in woman’s clothes).

Another example, air travel. Pretty generic activity.  Lots of websites doing the same thing, funnily enough, not always in the interest of the customer. Check out this from expedia


And then I went direct to AirNZ’s website to validate the pricing

Whops…. $2k more to fly on the same flight, same airline…. something i caught because now the power is in my hands to check and find possible itineraries… because I can put in the destination airport code and time now instead of an agent…

At a work level, I’m trying to figure out how to get our company to buy fibre products off 4 different providers. All of which have different ways of ordering, providing, billing, managing and implementing their product… IT folks scoff at network heads, they shouldn’t. Its bloody complicated and for the most part they have solved a lot of the technical challenges you guys are grappling with in Cloud land.  They didn’t get the business model transformation part right, but neither are many of you.

At an innovation level, now I (at least partially) understand Simon’s model, I can see how standards drive componetisation which in terms commoditises activities… and in doing this you see a wave of innovation at high levels in the ecosystem (on top of the commodity).  And i’m beginning to see how this can work in my favour a lot more.  I was talking about an idea with a friend, and he off his own bat said “now cloud is here the physical cost of the new service is really small now…  barriers to start up have gone away”, and in doing so more and more folks are innovating on top of it. Very cool when you can benefit.

Next time you see a standard emerging, think through how you can best make use of it.

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