Wooing the next wave of software innovators

How do you ensure that your product stays relevant in the future? Reach out to the next generation of innovators. Several large companies are doing just that — as they attempt to encourage software start-ups to use their products and services.

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How do you ensure that your product stays relevant in the future? Reach out to the next generation of innovators. In what sounds like a smart marketing tactic, several large companies are seeking to encourage software start-ups to use their products and services  — through initiatives that range from free software development tools to a contest.

Microsoft in November launched a program  called BizSpark that offers eligible software start-ups around the globe free access to various Microsoft products — as long as the start-ups are privately held, less than three years old, have annual revenue of less than $1 million  and are referred by partners such as venture capitalists. (The start-ups do pay a $100 fee when they leave the program.) Meanwhile, Sun Microsystems has a program for start-ups called Sun Startup Essentials that includes discounted servers and open source software. And Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently announced this year’s winner of a contest it sponsors for start-ups that use its cloud computing platform.

Microsoft is also reaching out to those who may become future  innovators: High-school and college students in a number of countries can participate in

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Comment (1)
The question asked at the very introduction of the article is very broad based, and critical for any organization to address, for attaining a sustainable competitive advantage. 
The responsibility to connect, collaborate, and reach out to the future innovators is incumbent on today’s market leaders. This helps today’s market leaders to relate to the future market as well as ensure a broader market to serve in times to come. Everette Roger’s “diffusion of innovation- bell curve” model profiles enterprises in terms of their ability and maturity to adopt technology. The answer to the question asked here helps organizations to stay in the “innovators” or at least within the “early adopters” moiety of the market. Identifying with the innovators also provides reliable indicators to help enterprises make informed and pragmatic investment decisions on forthcoming technologies.
The information pervasive environment that we are living in emphasizes the ubiquity of the internet. The internet is steadily emerging as the fundamental platform for business solutions. This has a strong implication, that the internet would be the main “engine” for the market leaders to provide assistance, services and establishing a strong relationship with the innovators. In this context the Web 2.0 technology applications become relevant and essential especially in two facets:
1.	Product development (the innovators provide a critical testing ground for products), and
2.	Product marketing.
This also implies a shift in the perception of “service” provided by organizations. Service would have to be “packaged” to be sold more conveniently as products. Probably we are looking at a services being sold more as projects along defined guidelines.