Jim Letourneau's Blog

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How Will Wavefront Cross the Chasm? Part 1

My previous post on Wavefront Technology Solutions - What's in Store for 2013? mentioned the strong cash position and low share price and ended with the question How Will Wavefront Cross the Chasm?

What do I mean by crossing the chasm? It is a term coined by Geoffrey A. Moore in his bookCrossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers. The first challenge.

I tend to be open to trying new things so I lean pretty far to the left on the adoption curve (shown below). By the time an innovation “crosses the chasm” I’m bored. What I’ve learned over the past few years that some industries are pretty slow on the uptake of new technologies. The time scale can extend to several decades when dealing with low velocity industries... like the oil patch. In other’s it can be only a few years.

In fact, according to innovation expert Dr. Jeff DeGraff, if a product is truly innovative, a low velocity industry won’t touch it. Incremental change is the preferred route. One off projects with large capital investment and long timelines are not very amenable to change. In Calgary, the words “Long Lake” will elicit knowing nods from oilpatch veterans as a mega-project that appears unlikely to ever turn a profit. However, it is too big to be killed.

Moore’s version of the adoption curve stresses the chasm between the early adopters (the technology enthusiasts and visionaries) and the early majority (the pragmatists). These people don’t talk to each other at parties. They dress differently. They use different smart phones.

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Getting across the chasm is the ultimate challenge for new technologies. In fast moving industries (think Instagram going from 0 to $1 billion dollars in 2 years) there isn’t much time to differentiate as waves of new competitors appear on a monthly basis. In slow moving industries, survival is more important than worrying about competitors. The competition for innovations in low velocity industries is the status quo. The status quo happily devours the budgets of Blackberry wielding managers on the moneyed side of the chasm.

How does this apply to Wavefront? The largest and most disruptive impact of their Powerwave Technology is in Enhanced Oil Recovery or EOR. The size of the prize is enormous. Penetrating that market is a considerable challenge. The status quo is well entrenched, there are all kinds of tweaks to EOR processes that are being championed by innumerable specialists. Wavefront's advantage is that their technology works with the injection of any fluid and all EOR involves the injection of a fluid. 

Next up - How Will Wavefront Cross the Chasm? Part 2