Ambition in tech often quickly evolves into a maze. Technology has a way of opening mysterious doors. Those are doors one never expected to be there, much less to find, or to be the gateway to a world of new thought, commerce or opportunity. Digital Strategy often requires ambitious pursuits.
Let’s look at one such case in point, Flickr. The story of how Flickr came to be is a perfect example of surprise, agility, and unanticipated consequences. The developers were working on the beta test stage of a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) that had a photosharing tool they’d previously begun work on a few years before. The tool turned out to be far more popular than the game, so the developers switched gears, concentrated on revving up the photosharing tool, and brought that out for public use. This was 2004. MMOGs were taking off, and there was a great deal of interest and investment in that arena. But the onslaught of interest and activity on Flickr within the MMOG made it clear and apparent that this was the way to go.
So the developers put their energies toward Flickr, put the game on hold, and a photosharing revolution was born. Flickr went on to become a major worldwide photosharing platform. Blogging was all the rage, and bloggers were using –and citing-- Flickr as a source for photos and for sharing and posting their own pictures. In 1995 Yahoo bought Flickr for a reported $20 Million dollars.
Was it a risk to make the switch from the MMOG to a photosharing platform? Yes, indeed! The game’s beta users made it clear, but were they a big enough sample group? The developers followed what Aristotle called The Wisdom of The Crowd, and went with it. Ambition drove the developers to pursue the path that their users indicated was viable. It took gumption. And that’s a key ingredient in ambition.
Let’s get back to the maze. From one idea comes another. With pursuit of an idea it is natural for other ideas to grow and exponential concepts to flourish. Some of those may be complete detours from the given path. So far off the path that it may seem as though getting back is a maze, and how one arrived there in the first place becomes an unsure fact. Ambition leads to unknown destinations. This is the road to discovery. Or, sometimes, a dead end.
Self-driving, or autonomous cars, are an ambitious project that would have been laughed out of the conference room 20 years ago. Now there are self-driving cars and trucks on the road. Ambition often means accepting and embracing change. The digital, technical world we live in is more open by the day to change and innovative concepts. Many of those seem far flung and outrageous. It takes ambitious technologists who deploy their digital strategy and their know-how to bring new products and services to the fore. And to break through the maze, onto what then becomes the world stage.
Dean Landsman is a NYC-based Digital Strategist who writes a monthly column for PR for People “The Connector.”