“Entrepreneurs identify the gap in the market and sell products. Engineers build products.” This is how it was. Engineers knew their place. They were focused on designing and building the best product, but were not necessarily thinking about the broader value proposition, value chain, pricing models, distribution, network effects etc.
These days you have to innovate all elements of the go-to-market strategy together. It does not work to develop an innovative product first and then figure how it is going to be distributed, although it is amazing how many companies still do this. When Symantec were building their first Norton products for Android, they were not thinking about how they could leverage their dozens of existing channel partners for distribution. Fortunately at Lotaris we were, and had a cloud-based service ready for their product launch.
Steve Jobs was a master at innovating all elements of the go-to-market strategy together. Which is why Apple did not attempt disrupt the TV market, as he explained at the D8 conference in 2010. Hence Apple TV, where he did not take on the TV industry head-on, as he did the mobile and music industries. There were many companies who tried and failed, such as Sony, Panasonic, Google and Tibo. But Steve understood that there was a fundamental issue with the TV market value chain, in that cable/satellite TV companies subsidise the set-top boxes. So unlike other companies, he did not try and build the perfect TV media box.
It is interesting to see how many engineers have become entrepreneurs these days, combining their technology innovation with go to market innovation. In many cases, these “new generation techies”, such as Mark Zuckerberg, are the ones disrupting all sorts of industries.