In both our business and personal lives, there are different decisions you can make that inform your broader path. In some instances you can choose “one-way doors”, or decisions that are permanent and are tough to come back from. Separately, some of our decisions are more multi-faceted through a “two-way door”, or decisions that allow you to test something new, and if you do not like the outcome, you can revert back to try something different.
Recognizing which kind of decision you choose to make before you actually do so, is important. One-way doors require more thought and we ought to gather more points of view to ensure there is joint consensus around pursuing this option. Alternatively, two-way doors allow us to experiment and learn from these experiments. Finally, probably the worst decision, however, is not to pick any door, to stand on the stand lines.
Being decisive as a habit at ISM
We work in a fast-paced business and a quick moving industry. And the result of not picking any door, or not switching direction, will likely translate into our competition surpassing us. At ISM, we are becoming much more decisive about making decisions more quickly and soon that cadence will feel natural and going slower will be dull.
In considering and prioritizing our longer-term technology strategy, I consciously opened a one-way door when we choose to create our own, original IP (intellectual properties). Since we were parting ways with vendors, and we did it in a few different circumstances, we were essentially going through a one-way door where going back from these decisions wouldn’t be easy. These decisions required much thought, but it made sense since continuing with these vendors only made sense if they afforded us higher velocity or a quality advantage in the marketplace.
Experimentation is key to achieve our goals
It’s often written that you can’t succeed if you don’t fail a few times, so a test and learn approach is important to creating great technology especially when you want to go into uncharted territories. I recall an early chat with someone in the tech team about deploying very, very early version of Iris at a live Taylor Swift concert. The conversation went something like this:
Tech team member: “What if falls flat on its face?”
Me: “Well, we will learn from it. It is not fatal [as we have another commercial solution running the mainline].”
This was a two-way door and it made sense to pursue since the downside was limited. We just needed to experiment a little bit to make Iris better. Almost six months since that conversation, we are creating a robust facial recognition engine and a truly world-class product. And we are doing it in an industry – security and safety – that is ripe for innovation by firms like us.
Where we are going next year
In 2019, FanGuard, powered by our Iris engine will be adapted for two other use cases to grow the base security and safety use case we are currently focused. They include detection of age and gender and access Control – to buildings, stadiums, concerts or even an office. Adding facial recognition into all of these use case would be very powerful. As we develop these capabilities, some of these will be live as new products,while others might be add-on to existing products.
I hope we consider one-way doors carefully and go through them with gusto. And if two-way doors, we learn from being on the other side and back. But please do not stand in front of the door and do nothing.