As relayed in my previous post, “TWO RABBITS, ONE DEAD,” by the early to mid-1980s, the Patent Annuity payment business had evolved to the point where corporate patent owners had lost interest in a basic renewal service. (See my post, “THE BIGGER IDEA (AND ME AS WINGBOY)” for a basic explanation.) What they did clamor for, however, was software to manage their patent files and operations.
These patent departments were awash in paper! They desperately needed to computerize their operations. By converting paper to electronic files, they could junk their antiquated manual reminder systems. In other words, it was time for them to turn their operations into a modern computer-managed process.
A cheaper and more efficient renewal payment service just didn’t set any bridges on fire anymore. At least, not like it had in the 1960s. Disruption had moved on.
Dad was extremely resistant to extend the Olcott International brand to a marketable piece of software. That would have entailed restructuring his business to meet the emerging disruption (please review Rebecca Henderson and Clay Christensen, disruptive innovation experts at the Harvard Business School). Dad now confronted the same disruption challenge he had once imposed. To respond or not; to react incrementally or radically?
At the time, I was of limited help in addressing this existential threat as I was completely computer illiterate. We did have some kind of mini-computer in the basement that kept our clients’ patent data on big removable disk drives. (We had off-site storage facilities to prevent loss from fire, Bigfoot, or nuclear attack).