Jonathan Saipe

A Short Story About Gordon and Geoffrey Moore

22 July 2020, Jonathan Saipe

people and technology

This a story about two people called Moore and their differing approaches to people and technology.

When I first started in advertising, I worked for a small agency called SMI Group. Our agency roster comprised tech clients like Adobe, Pioneer, IBM, HP and Compuserve. Remember them?

Moore’s Law

In our pitches, we always quoted Moore’s Law to prospective clients. Gordon Moore, who co-founded Intel, predicted that the number of transistors in a chip would double every year.

In 1975 he changed that to every two years. The rate is slowing, however, because it can’t possibly double indefinitely.

But whether it can or can’t, the analogy is immensely pertinent if you work in engineering – or in my case, web design and development, martech or ad tech. Technology will always evolve, and that’s a given.

The important thing to realise is that Gordon Moore wasn’t factoring humans into the equation. His approach was very much from an engineering perspective.

The Chaos Report

One piece of research I always quote when teaching digital project managers about project success and failure is the Chaos Report from the Standish Group.

The Chaos Report said that if you apply engineering project management principles to digital projects, you are far more likely to fail, and you’ll see that lack of end-user consultation is often the biggest factor in project failure. Why is that? It’s because humans are unpredictable, diverse and complex. And you don’t need a Psychology degree to figure that one out.

In the early ’90s, when web 1.0 was set to explode like an incendiary, the book every digital innovator and strategist read was “Crossing The Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore (no relation to Gordon of Intel, as far as I’m aware).

Visionaries vs Pragmatists

Geoffrey Moore’s book reflected on the challenges of launching high-tech products to new audiences. He claimed that there is a chasm between the early adopters of the product, the technology enthusiasts and visionaries, versus the early majority, whom he called the pragmatists.

In order to cross the chasm between visionaries and pragmatists, your plan required careful audience targeting, exceptional product positioning, and of course, a very astute marketing strategy.

I find the theories from both sets of Moores intriguing. Gordon talks about the unstoppable evolution of technology, whilst Geoffrey talks about the people who decide whether or not to embrace new technology.

Roll forward to today and it demonstrates the wonderfully diverse challenges digital teams face, amidst a blizzard of digital change and data abundance.

Thank you Gordon and Geoffrey.