Category: industrial change

The Innovator’s Dilemma

The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do BusinessThe Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Clayton Christensen’s analysis of how new technologies disrupt old ones. It’s a very specific mechanism; new ways of doing things can provide services and products to slightly different market niches than existing ones. The new products and services aren’t initially as good as the existing ones, but with time and development iterations, they end up improving, then getting better than the existing products and services. The older companies may have excellent management and great products, but their customer base has very specific needs which they can best serve by staying focused on them. By the time they pay attention to the newer competitors, the competition is strong enough that it is very easy for their existing customers to simply switch to the new product or service.

Local interest – one of the examples that Christensen uses is that of the Birmingham steel industry from the 1960s through to the early 1980s when the first large-scale layoffs occurred as plant the electric arc furnace began eating into markets for U.S Steel’s Bessemer-process steel production.

Excellent read. You need to understand this business pattern.

The Google Story

The Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media, and Technology Success of Our TimeThe Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media, and Technology Success of Our Time by David A. Vise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tells the Google story, starting with the biographies of the two founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. The two started with Sergey Brin’s initial insight as to how to determine link popularity (modeled on scientific paper ranking by citation counts from other papers) and then worked out how to index the existing internet (in 1998-1999) and return reasonably good search results. Given that decent search was so badly needed at the time, they had a tool that worked well – and that exploded out of the gate. Has a decent explanation as to how Google Ad Words work, and the what the resulting revenue stream has enabled the company to do.

An excellent primer for those who would like to learn more about Google.

UAB’s 3-D Printer Lab

Had a tour of UAB’s 3D printer lab Friday afternoon.

Disclosure: I’m a student enrolled in the UAB business school information systems program. I’m also doing a minor in computer science. The guy who runs the lab, Dr. Sloan, is my algorithms class prof this semester.

Watch parts printed in ABS plastic as part of 3-D Print Lab student project

The 3D printer lab is part of the computer science department at Campbell Hall. They have two industrial printers and 3 MakerBot machines of varying vintages and capabilities. They can print ABS plastic, ABS plastic with a secondary plastic for structures requiring support during production, and a biodegradable plastic which can be broken down and gradually replaced within living organisms.

Dr. Sloan is actively looking for on campus collaborators; if you need to prototype objects as part of your research or development process, he has the facilities. Samples of some of the work they’ve been prototyping while getting started can be seen at http://3dprintlab.cis….

He’s also actively recruiting for a collaborative computer science and art class, CS 491, which will be run during the next fall semester. Computer Science students and art students will be working in pairs to design, program and generate 3-D objects. No formal prerequisites are required, although he suggested that you have a good grasp of either programming or 3-D design/sculpture before enrolling.

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