Differentiation trumps innovation, says HPE tech guru Tom Bradicich

Technology companies of all sizes — from nascent startups to large enterprises — strive to differentiate product lines and maintain an edge over the competition. In an upcoming book, “The 1st Mover,” author and tech expert Tom Bradicich provides insights into processes that have proven to deliver differentiated product categories for large organizations.

“I like to separate the notion of innovation from differentiation,” said Bradicich (pictured), vice president and general manager of “internet of things” and converged Edge Systems at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. “Differentiation is really where one can have a first-mover advantage because differentiation by definition is new, is innovation.” 

Bradicich spoke with John Furrier (@furrier), host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, at theCUBE’s studio in Palo Alto, California. They discussed the thought processes and proven approaches to driving differentiation in technology products.

Organizational approach to differentiation

Validation of the product concept with potential customers is important to ensure innovation is moving in the right direction. When engaging with customers, however, the line of questioning needs to be forward-thinking rather than focused on current competitive solutions, according to Bradicich. 

“I hear this all the time from my competitors and even some colleagues out in the industry: ‘Well, we ask them what apps they run at the edge. We ask them what they do at the edge.’ That’s good, that’s necessary but not sufficient,” Bradicich said.

Instead, asking questions about what benefits a hypothetical product can often provide leads to more fruitful discussions. Since the product is still a concept, customers don’t have a reference from which to base comparisons, Bradicich explained. “You have to say, ‘But if you had this product, wouldn’t you, for example, run an entire database? Would you compile your machine learning models at the edge, do it in the cloud now; wouldn’t you do that, if you had it?'” 

When speaking with different stakeholders about new products or services, it’s also critical to establish core operating principles early on. This prevents the team from changing directions too frequently or dramatically by providing a true north to which all feedback can be referenced to, according to Bradicich.

“You have to have deep philosophical and conviction of principles,” he said. “If you don’t, you will be swayed by everybody’s opinion and you’ll never get anything done.”

Bradicich is applying these fundamental principles within his organization at HPE. The Edgeline product team, for instance, is delivering differentiated products in edge computing for a wide range of industrial applications while remaining aligned to HPE’s core compute operating principles.

“We’re revolutionizing the industrial IoT in particular and manufacturing floors,” he said “We have the large auto manufacturer that has chosen Edgeline as the standard to produce more and more vehicles per day…. We have a snack company making potato chips looking at what we’re doing with software defining operations.”

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s CUBE Conversations.



Photo: SiliconANGLE