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Mapping Mondays – Innovate, Leverage, Commoditize

Happy Mapping Monday! Today’s #mappingmondays video covers a very powerful gameplay called Innovate-Leverage-Commoditize where you allow others to figure out the market for you, and then simply commoditize what they discover. As always, the links in the video are below, and a full transcript is included below the video. And If you’re interested in finding out how to apply this to your organization, don’t hesitate to reach out via Twitter or email hello at coryfoy dot com!



Happy Monday, and welcome to another edition of Mapping Mondays! Often when we look at Wardley Maps, we look for opportunities to act by moving components between phases – productizing a custom built component, or driving a component towards utilities. But what if we can get other people to tell us where we should make our plays with minimal investments on our part?

That’s the heart of a specific gameplay known as Innovate-Leverage-Commoditize. Many of us are familiar with Amazon, Google and Microsoft’s products which provide computing power in the cloud. We can think of this as a utility – basically something we just turn on and off like electricity. If we’re not one of those providers, we can use this to our advantage. Often companies in the Genesis or Custom Build phases are looking for products or platforms they can use to build things with. So let’s take a space that hasn’t been commoditized and expose an API – in this case, we’ll expose social media feed access as an API, built on top of compute as a platform.

We then launch this API to the broader world, and people begin taking advantage of it, building interesting new mash ups of data, all using our API. We’ve now enabled a whole series of innovations to occur on top of our platform – meaning we’re both an enabler and have the ability to see the metadata of usage to analyze where the really interesting moves are.

As we see usage continue to creep up, we Leverage this data to spot patterns. We then move up the stack a level and fully Commoditize a portion of that – potentially disrupting other business models in the process. Now we’re even more entrenched in the market because we’re the default information provider and we have the core products. If we’re following good Doctrine, we’re doing this in a way where we are also a joy to use, so people are more likely to keep building on top of us, allowing us to continue exposing other high-order APIs, watching people use them, and then leveraging that knowledge to Commoditize additional markets.

The tricky part about this is disrupting this flow once it is in place isn’t a matter of outcompeting in parallel. You have to clearly map your market and understand the higher level components and the plays necessary to productized or commoditize above the currently commoditized layer, effectively attempting to control the information flows above the platform. This can take some really forward thinking, but without it you might end up continually playing catch up.

If you’d like to learn more about ILC, Simon Wardley has a great chapter in his book on it, as well as a fantastic Twitter thread. I’ve included the links here and will also post them in the blog post for this video.

And if you’re interested in learning more about applying mapping and strategy within your organization feel free to reach out on Twitter at @cory_foy or via email at hello at coryfoy dot com. And be sure to check out all of the Mapping Monday blogs posts on my site.

Until next time, have a great week of mapping!

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