This is the first in a series of essays on a simple but important question: Which new technologies will make it, and which will fail? The TPSM attempts to approach this question systematically, by figuring out what the key success factors are. The premise is that you use the past to predict the future. This introduction also serves as the Table of Contents. I’ve now posted the samples of “Winner” and “Loser” technologies, the list of candidate predictors, and the matrix rundown on all of the candidates, having saved the best for the last. Next I’ll try to craft some sort of conclusion. I’m getting a lot of email feedback on this series. When I’m done, I’ll go back and dig through it and write up the good stuff; thanks to all and keep it coming.
Methodology · Here’s how it works: The first essays list some major marquee technologies dating back over the past couple of decades, divided into two groups of a half dozen each. One group is technology winners (examples: Java and the Personal Computer), the other is the losers (examples: Ada and Interactive TV). Then, an essay introduces a list of nine factors which might plausibly be useful in predicting the success of new technologies (examples: Investor Support and Technical Elegance).
For each, I’ll build a matrix of how they would have done at predicting the success of the Winner and Loser technologies. So far, I’ve written up Management Approval, Standardization, Return on Investment, Compelling Idea, Investor Support, Good Implementations, and Happy Programmers, Technical Elegance, and 80/20 Point. From all this matrix analysis, with any luck, patterns emerge and it becomes obvious which of the predictors are the ones that work.
[Note: This is not 100% new material; people who attended one of my keynote speeches in the 1999-2001 period may remember hearing something along these lines.]