Innovation Community Blog

Innovating Well

08 June 2010
Speed kills. For us at SilverStripe, speed is always a problem as well as an opportunity.

Our business model: we make money by building websites and web applications for clients around the world. We built a rock-solid open source web framework which we use as the basis of the work we do for clients. And we are venturing into Software as a Service territory with our new website monitoring product Dawn.

So why is speed a problem? There are the obvious problems around web page load time and the occasional bump in the road when you have a tight deadline. And as Kiwis, we're also facing a problem unique to our island nations. We're on a few islands in the middle of the ocean, and our internet connection out to the rest of the world is woefully slow. But SilverStripe's biggest issue is related to the speed of innovation.

At SilverStripe innovation is our lifeblood. If we don't innovate, we die. Simple as that. Our clients pay us because of our ability to create innovative solutions for them. The web industry itself is changing so fast that we must innovate, and innovate well, to be competitive on a global scale. Therein lies the problem.

The Kiwi "number eight wire" mentality is great, but as a company how do you sustain systematic innovation over the long term? That is one of SilverStripe's biggest challenges. We think a good way to solve that problem is to focus on the people who use our technology. Our mantra "Be more human," is a reminder to us to keep human communication needs at the centre of what we do.

We have an office in Melbourne, 14 partners, and around a hundred SilverStripe web shops spread across the globe. But our headquarters is in Wellington. We love it here.

We think Wellington is the centre of the creative web in the southern hemisphere. For those who share this creative spirit, there's no better place to be. The closest thing I've seen to Wellington in this regard is the city I come from, San Francisco. And San Francisco may have a big fat internet pipe, but there are a lot of smart people here in Wellington working on improving our bandwidth. When they do, we'll rival San Francisco in connectivity... and still have much better coffee.

And how is speed an opportunity? Simple: if you can be nimble enough, you can out-manoeuvre anyone on the planet. There's a big advantage your business can gain if you can innovate well, and sustainably.

At SilverStripe, we assume we compete globally, and that drives much of our thinking. Are you innovating in New Zealand? Are you willing to take on the world? Let your speed kill what holds you back.

Brian Calhoun is the CEO of SliverStripe.
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