Magazine article New Zealand Management

We've Been Hacked!!

Magazine article New Zealand Management

We've Been Hacked!!

Article excerpt

TO: Bob Carter

FROM: Murray Small

SUBJECT: We've been hacked!!

Hi Bob

You're not going to like this! I was browsing on the web in the weekend, and I discovered someone's managed to reverse-engineer our Wizzoo. They posted our code on the net, and now everyone's making changes to it! What should we do? Time to call the lawyers?

Murray

TO: Murray Small

FROM: Bob Carter

SUBJECT: Re: We've been hacked!

Hi Murray

Like it? I love it! That's fantastic news! Forget lawyers, call the marketing team. I'll do the press-release now!

Cheers

Bob

TO: Bob Carter

FROM: Murray Small

SUBJECT: Re: We've been hacked!

Hi Bob

Fantastic news?!!! Marketing team? What on earth are you talking about. This is serious. I repeat "THE WIZZOO'S BEEN HACKED"!

Murray

TO: Murray Small

FROM: Bob Carter

SUBJECT: Re: We've been hacked!

Hi Murray

Yeah, isn't it great? I wasn't sure we'd hit the mark with the Wizzoo, but this confirms it. Let's get the product documentation, code and everything up on the web. I want to give those hackers everything they need--this could turn out to be a real winner! Talk soon, Bob

Does this sound like some kind of crazy fantasy conversation? It could be less fictional than you think.

Lately I've been coming across examples of product-hacking that, far from being a problem for the company making the products, have turned out to be a godsend. It's called customer-led innovation, and whether it happens by accident or intention, sometimes it can result in the development of hugely successful products or even whole new markets.

Take Lego for instance. When it launched a new product--a build-it-yourself robot kit called Mindstorm--it wasn't long before an enterprising audience of hackers reverse-engineered the technology and built a bunch of unofficial tools that could program Mindstorm robots in ways the Lego team had never envisaged. Instead of reaching for the legal team, Lego encouraged this innovation, and Mindstorm rapidly became one of the most successful Lego products of all time.

Ditto for the robotic toy, Robosapien, designed and built by ex-US government robotics expert Mark Tilden. Websites have sprung up showing how to add cameras and other features, and how to use voice recognition to command the robot's movements, allowing it to, amongst other things, dance. …

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