Zapping and the Mothers of Innovation (Pt. 1)

Zapping and the Mothers of Innovation is a series looking at innovation at The Cable Show 2012. Written by contributor, Russell Howard.

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Move in day at The Cable Show 2012.

The cable industry has deservedly built its reputation on innovation, and the latest wave will be on display this year on The Cable Show floor.  From deep-pocketed ventures to under-resourced upstarts, where is innovation most fertile?  If I wanted to highlight one of the many products on the show floor I thought was most innovative, how would I go about it?

Sometimes, at its core, innovation is a refinement, a better way of doing something others have already done.  But what defines real innovation is that it forces us to reinvent paradigms and drives our collective evolution.

Sometimes innovation responds to a need and sometimes it anticipates one. But it clearly is not a guarantor of success. Given the warp speed of technical evolution, the cable industry’s tar pits are already overflowing with bones from past innovators. Some were ahead of their time, sported fatally flawed business models, proved to be evolutionary or were technical dead ends.

As I stroll The Cable Show floor in search of innovative things I’ll seek to limit my interactions to these questions:

  1. What is your most innovative product and how does it differ from what’s on the market?
  2. What was the mother of that innovation?
  3. What need(s) does it seek to fulfill?

I’ll report back with the products or developments that I found to be most innovative, based on no particular criteria. But I will ask myself some questions as I ponder. Is it new and different or a refinement? Does it anticipate or respond to a behavior?

But most of all does it have the potential to be disruptive?

Take zapping, for example.

I’ll ponder on that for tomorrow’s posting.

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Russell Howard has more than 25 years of experience in cable and broadcast TV, serving most recently as SVP Communications Worldwide for National Geographic Channels. As VP Marketing & Communications at Team Services, he developed PPV campaigns for WWE, Universal Studios, Paramount Studios and New Line Cinema. Previously, Howard managed news promotion, public relations, and community affairs at KDKA-TV2 in Pittsburgh. Howard got his start in cable creating on-air packaging, promotions and affiliate materials for Cable Video Store, the industry’s 1st satellite delivered addressable PPV network.

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