I love innovation. I love playing with new services and gadgets. But the only ones I stick with tend to be the ones that are actually useful. Unfortunately, in listening to entrepreneurs at the Defrag conference (and through repeated observation elsewhere), I am startled by how many companies and products seem to be solutions in search of a problem.
In fact, one of the speakers stumbled upon this point, perhaps without realizing it, when he talked about how his company uses email lists very effectively for collaboration among employees, fostering discussion, debate, and sometimes consensus. Yet there are countless vendors here and elsewhere peddling all sorts of feature-laden collaboration tools. Wikis, social networks, and more are all creeping into the entreprise with the promise of being more effective than "traditional" communications tools.
But I really wonder whether or not email might not be a better solution in most cases. Getting users to adopt RSS or forcing them to visit an intranet site doesn’t seem like a viable concept for most companies. I have no doubt that there is a place for this sort of technology, but I think that some of the efforts that my fellow tech enthusiasts are making could prove to be counterproductive. Slower, more managed growth of these tools in ways in which they are actually useful will have greater long-term benefits to the enterprise and to the entrepreneurs, at a slight short-term expense to startups looking to grow quickly to impress investors.
Exponential growth in advance of a flameout should never be considered more valuable than steady, sustainable growth. Let’s not overcomplicate things in search of that short-term buzz; think of the benefits to the user. Somtimes the old way may still be the best way.