Innovation is nothing new to cable, which has been a running experiment from from the first strung coax. Innovation is nonetheless a hot topic. Some of this attention derives from The Innovator’s Dilemma, a 1997 book by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, which describes how market leaders find it difficult to respond to the “disruptive innovation” of down-market competition. The book sold 500,000 copies. Christensen’s follow-up in 2003, The Innovator’s Solution, offers methods to pre-empt the dilemma he described. Communications Technology hopes to sustain this interest in innovation. Hence: our Innovator of the Year award. Comcast Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning Mark Coblitz, the inaugural recipient of this award, knows the topic cold. “First of all, we live in a very competitive world,” he says. “And there’s no question that competition drives innovation. If you remain stagnant, eventually your competitors will do something that your customers like better.” But that’s only half the equation. “There’s another interesting path of innovation,” Coblitz continues, “which says that the structure by which you deliver…needs to have innovation in order to make the cost piece more effective.” This effort to win efficiency and customers holds no guarantees. Fellow cable innovator and Time Warner executive Jim Chiddix notes that “along the way, the cable industry has tried many things. Some of which were utter failures, some of which were ahead of their time, some of which have been huge successes.” Chiddix says that without a Bell Labs-type R&D arm, cable has had to look outside for new ideas. “It’s people like Mark who understand the business, and understand the technologies they look at, and are eager to bring innovations from other industries into the cable industry that make this all go forward,” he says. Thanks, Mark. And congratulations. Jonathan Tombes
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