Friday, October 27, 2006

Technology/Sport Mashups Are Just Beginning

Right now the cool thing is embedded Mp3 players, and iPod connectors in sporting goods but as Jim Carroll says - this is just the tip of the iceberg, its about more than iPod's, and its not about accessorizing, and its about redefining the product. Technology will further converge with the sporting goods industry.

He talks about 'Gen-connect', and how they expect stuff to do stuff. They are wired and connected and they want to link with everything around them. Gen-Connect think links because that is what they do, and companies need to re-think about their products in the same way. To be effective at this, I think companies need to find ways put themselves in the shoes of their customers, and most importantly not enforce their values, or perspective on that of their users. The way to do this is to really listen to them without judging, but easier said than done.

The other take away that I took from this article, which I have also been researching for some time, is Jim's concept of sporting good extensibility. Sporting goods users are often passionate and regular users of their products, they are quick to tell you (based on real experience) about how the product could be better, and often they will do this themselves. Think about how people modify bikes, skateboards or kayaks to suite their needs. Jim talks about the concept releasing 'platforms' instead of products to allow for users to modify and make them better.

I find this concept of tech/sports mash ups extremely exciting and feel there is a lot of untapped territory here, but besides having some creative R&D staff, and likely some product users within your company, I think that companies need to come up with some new methods on how to harness that creative energy, and create more authentic connections with their user base so that it can be channeled it back into growing the business. This is more than market research, or product development. Its about bringing these two often separate disciplines together.


Kevin Donaldson said...

Adidas MI Innovation Center: Technology coupled with custom shoe design

Kevin Donaldson said...

More technology mashups: snowboard jackets that transmit images... and more...(Information Aesthetics)