We work in Silicon Valley... and there are a few hundred new acronyms and technologies introduced each year that we need to understand. Being a trusted advisor means that clients need us to be really smart, on top of the latest trends, and interpreting what really matters so we can engage with them to design new, winning business strategies.

And one thing I've noticed: Many of the things that get hype today won't matter down the road. But there are always a few in the mix that need to be considered deeply. Figuring out the difference is hard, especially with the high volume of noise that can exist in coverage of the next big thing the business press.

One That Counts

One item is going to change the paradigm of how products get brought to market. The term I'm specifically asking you to be alert to is mashups.

Mashups are when two technologies can easily get mixed to create another of value. I often think of it as Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: two great things that when combined create something new and better. Mashups are fundamentally that. Two ideas or "solutions" that are interesting become better when brought together.

A couple of examples: put a publicly available database of housing transactions together with easy mapping technology and housingmaps.com or zillow.com get created so home value appraisals can be done on the fly. A related model: A Ford Mustang collector might mashup his database of Mustang clubs (by GPS coordinates) with the functionality and content of Google Maps. The resulting visual would produce club locations overlaid interactively on top of a map within the context of a web browser—a mashup.

Why does it matter?

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Nilofer Merchant is the CEO of Rubicon Consulting (www.rubiconconsulting.com), a strategy and marketing consultancy based in Silicon Valley that solves complex business challenges for high-tech companies.