Bird-Tweeting-Revolution-Creating Fuss

“Sir, we have come up with this new innovative idea and wanted to run it past you. This is something we have moonlighted on for the past six months”. The group of youngsters looked visibly excited and their leader, in a striped shirt and chinos, held a laptop that obviously had some demo version of the “innovative idea”

“Nice”, the boss looked up, setting aside his Blackberry. “Give me an elevator pitch – I have a hard stop in 15 mins”

“Sir, this is something that will revolutionize the way people communicate”

“Hold it just there. We are an ERP company. What’s communication got to do with our business?”

“Umm, sir, we see your point. But if you just for one moment look outside, you will see how social tools like Instant Messaging, Skype, Facebook – for that matter RSS feeds – are changing the way we communicate and build networks. So yes, this is not to do with ERP, but we daresay just as interesting”, the young leader looked a little flustered but he gamely held on to the conversation

“Okay, proceed”, the boss man said, not sounding either entirely convinced or terribly interested

“This is like a communication paradigm where you can send instant updates that can be seen, essentially, by anyone with an Internet connection. So it is like an ocean where everyone pours in their bits of communication. But most interestingly it is possible for a user to create a list – a group if you may – of people who he is most interested in and he will get their updates instantly without having to search them out”

“Oh, that is like a chatroom combined with IM. That problem is already solved”, boss said, “and what’s wrong with email to multiple recipients?”

“But sir, in this you don’t need to know the email ID of people you are updating. They choose to get updates from you. In fact the analogy we have is that of a bird tweeting in the morning. When it tweets it never knows all who might listen to its tweet”

“Have you considered privacy? I may not like someone- let’s say the VP of Product Engineering at a competitor firm to see my updates”

“Great point Sir. So you can stop specific people from receiving your updates”

“Won’t work. They could take you to court because you just said that all updates are available for everyone. And look son, if I want to get someone’s updates I will just connect with him on Facebook. You are solving a problem that does not exist”

“That is exactly why this product is revolutionary, Sir. It creates an Open Facebook. A Facebook where everyone can follow everyone. At will. And similarly one could block access to whoever they don’t want to send updates to. And there is an immediacy of these updates because they must be less than 140 characters”

“What? What do you think you can communicate within 140 characters? Won’t work”

“But sir this could be the novel touch – forcing brevity on the world and..”

The boss interjected impatiently. “Like the world wants brevity. Have you asked, for example, our marketing guys about whether they want to send short messages to our clients?”

“Umm, we did Sir. The response, I am afraid was not very positive. They said they already have a Facebook page and that is where they connect with clients. And they were apprehensive that an open thing like this could be disastrous if there are too many negative things said about our products”

“See, those are my sentiments exactly. Look, the matter of communications is over-solved by the industry. We do not need another channel. My prognosis is that, if anything, there will be consolidation as people will want lesser channels to communicate, not more”

“Research done by sociologists however point that…”, the young leader, quite pushed to the brink made an attempt to recover

“Now look, as I said, I have a hard stop. But I would strongly advice you to not bother with Bachelor of Arts subjects like Sociology and Psychology and rather concentrate on core ERP technology. This bird tweeting in the morning thing is all hogwash”

“Sir, we – and all of us here – understand that while this is a new concept, it could revolutionalize…”

Visibly impatient, the boss curtly cut off the leader. “Revolutionize? Like what – start revolutions? People will start using this platform and start political movements”, he thundered, sarcasm oozing from his words. “I recommend you please go and focus on your core work., young men. Please don’t make me scrutinize your time-sheets for the past six months when you were building this bird-tweeting-revolution-creating product of yours”

This conversation never happened. But it could very well have. This is possibly how Twitter would have been killed if born within the precincts of a large technology company

PS: There could very well be a counter argument to this fictional anecdote. Is there a way this idea could have been pitched – to the same protagonists – to yield different (positive) results?