|By Hollis Tibbetts||
|March 5, 2012 07:45 AM EST||
In building, marketing and selling software, the biggest enemy isn't the competition. Or "rivals" at work.
Characteristics of The Enemy
Your biggest enemies are smart - sometimes blindingly smart. They're confident, and convincing. And incredibly dangerous - because you trust them, and you think they're helping you succeed. They may not be guiding your boat right into the rocks, but they're probably not taking you where you need to be. And the difference between survival, success, and phenomenal success can come down to very slight variances in navigation over time.
Who Is the Enemy?
In most cases, your biggest enemies are YOU - and the people you trust at work to provide you with the most important information of all - an understanding of the buyers of your product. And they hurt you at the most critical moments - when you're making strategic decisions with big ramifications.
"Knowledge"? That's Not Knowledge
Here's the typical situation - at any particular software company, a bunch of people think they know everything about "the customer". They think this for any number of reasons (all of which are wrong):
1) They've read every research report out there and spoken to all the expensive analysts
2) They've sold the software to a number of customers
3) They've supported the customers
4) They've implemented the product at a bunch of customer sites
5) They used to be a customer, or used to work in a "target market" of interest to your company
6) They built/designed the software, so they know what it can do
7) They've worked at the company forever
8) They used to work for a competitor or know the competitive landscape really well
9) Something worked in the past at some other company
10) They are "in charge" and have an important title.
I Don't Care What You Think (and neither should you)
I saw a pretty snarky coffee mug for sale on pragmaticmarketing.com (an excellent site, by the way) the other day. It was borderline offensive, but none-the-less true. It said "Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant".
A nicer and more diplomatic way to put it would be "the only things that count are what the (target) customers for your product think, want, and are willing to spend money for". But that wouldn't sell many coffee mugs.
Knowledge Is Your Enemy(?)
So many people at every company have an opinion on what the "target customer" thinks or wants. It's pretty unusual for anyone to actually know. When they do know something, it's usually a dreadfully skewed, imbalanced view. For example, the CEO who speaks with lots of CIOs and VPs. The consultant who implements solutions on-site.
People would be better off with NO customer knowledge at all than to have skewed and imbalanced viewpoints. Why? Because people with no opinion are almost always open-minded. Give someone just enough knowledge to form an opinion, and they're no longer willing to admit that they "don't know".
Opinions vs. Knowledge: The Difference
How do you sort out whether someone is really the voice of the customer, or simply sharing some potentially damaging opinion that has no real basis in reality?
- When was the last time those "customer experts" actually really spoke with reasonable number of "representative target customers"? I don't mean 60 second trade-show interactions.
- Were those interactions with the economic buyer? The user? The executive? The technical buyer? Balanced interaction is important.
- Were those interactions done with a specific purpose in mind that would have prejudiced the perspective (for example, trying to close a deal, trying to fix a problem)? Or was the purpose of the interaction truly to "get to know the target customer"?
- Are the interactions only with customers who decided to buy your product? Or are they also with those who chose a competitor's product? Or decided to build their own solution?
- What about interactions with "target customers" who have never contacted you at all? Perhaps all you are doing is the equivalent of talking to people who like and buy anchovy pizza - missing out on the biggest opportunities out there.
- How long has it been since the "industry expert" was actually in the industry?
- How long since the "former customer" was a customer? Was the former customer economic/user/technical/executive buyer all wrapped into one?
If you're looking to make strategic decisions for your company - whether it's "should we build a new product" or "who do we sell to" or "how are we going to increase sales of a product" or "what does the future of our product look like", the only opinion that counts is that of the people and companies out there who will potentially be writing you big checks.
The Enemy Revealed
If you hear the words "I think the customer wants..." or "in my opinion the customer thinks..." as an answer to a business-critical question - those are the words of the enemy, unless immediately followed by the words "I'm going to pick up the phone and validate that".
The ally says "I know the customer wants" or "the customer definitely thinks..." The ally knows this because they've made it their business to know. And when you ask "how do you know that??", you get a good answer.
I've seen far too many products crash and burn because they were based on opinions or on consensus of opinions about what the customer wants and thinks. Only to find out that it wasn't solving the right problem, wasn't solving a critical enough (and valuable enough) problem, wasn't targeted at the right market, wasn't being sold to the right people, wasn't positioned the right way and on and on. The world is chock full of the wreckage of software companies and software initiatives that fell victim to "in my opinion".
Banishing the Enemy
The solution to this is pretty clear. The payoff is huge. The downside of NOT doing it is equally huge.
- Know the difference between a wild-ass guess and knowledge and don't tolerate wild-ass guesses, as they are dangerous.
- Don't let people fool themselves into thinking they "know the customer" when they only know part of a customer.
- Hold certain people accountable for REALLY KNOWING THE CUSTOMER. That needs to be part of their job. Get out there. Meet with them. Interact.
- Don't get all prideful. You can't know everything from all perspectives all the time. Nobody is that smart. Don't be afraid to "make your best guess" and then "validate and improve" afterwards.
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Jul. 25, 2016 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,110
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
Jul. 25, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 888
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Jul. 25, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,262
Ovum, a leading technology analyst firm, has published an in-depth report, Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting a DevOps Release Management Solution, 2016–17. The report focuses on the automation aspects of DevOps, Release Management and compares solutions from the leading vendors.
Jul. 25, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,644
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
Jul. 25, 2016 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,014
This is a no-hype, pragmatic post about why I think you should consider architecting your next project the way SOA and/or microservices suggest. No matter if it’s a greenfield approach or if you’re in dire need of refactoring. Please note: considering still keeps open the option of not taking that approach. After reading this, you will have a better idea about whether building multiple small components instead of a single, large component makes sense for your project. This post assumes that you...
Jul. 25, 2016 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 4,008
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...
Jul. 25, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,167
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Jul. 25, 2016 12:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,495
SYS-CON Events announced today that Isomorphic Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Isomorphic Software provides the SmartClient HTML5/AJAX platform, the most advanced technology for building rich, cutting-edge enterprise web applications for desktop and mobile. SmartClient combines the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simp...
Jul. 24, 2016 11:15 PM EDT Reads: 993
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
Jul. 24, 2016 09:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,131
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Jul. 24, 2016 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,474
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Yoseph Reuveni, Director of Software Engineering at Jet.com, will discuss Jet.com's journey into containerizing Microsoft-based technologies like C# and F# into Docker. He will talk about lessons learned and challenges faced, the Mono framework tryout and how they deployed everything into Azure cloud. Yoseph Reuveni is a technology leader with unique experience developing and running high throughput (over 1M tps) distributed systems with extre...
Jul. 24, 2016 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,053
Jul. 24, 2016 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,759
Right off the bat, Newman advises that we should "think of microservices as a specific approach for SOA in the same way that XP or Scrum are specific approaches for Agile Software development". These analogies are very interesting because my expectation was that microservices is a pattern. So I might infer that microservices is a set of process techniques as opposed to an architectural approach. Yet in the book, Newman clearly includes some elements of concept model and architecture as well as p...
Jul. 24, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 9,479
"We provide DevOps solutions. We also partner with some key players in the DevOps space and we use the technology that we partner with to engineer custom solutions for different organizations," stated Himanshu Chhetri, CTO of Addteq, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,604
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor – all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
Jul. 24, 2016 05:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,123
Let's just nip the conflation of these terms in the bud, shall we?
"MIcro" is big these days. Both microservices and microsegmentation are having and will continue to have an impact on data center architecture, but not necessarily for the same reasons. There's a growing trend in which folks - particularly those with a network background - conflate the two and use them to mean the same thing.
They are not.
One is about the application. The other, the network. T...
Jul. 24, 2016 04:15 AM EDT Reads: 3,346
If you are within a stones throw of the DevOps marketplace you have undoubtably noticed the growing trend in Microservices. Whether you have been staying up to date with the latest articles and blogs or you just read the definition for the first time, these 5 Microservices Resources You Need In Your Life will guide you through the ins and outs of Microservices in today’s world.
Jul. 24, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 3,848
Before becoming a developer, I was in the high school band. I played several brass instruments - including French horn and cornet - as well as keyboards in the jazz stage band. A musician and a nerd, what can I say? I even dabbled in writing music for the band. Okay, mostly I wrote arrangements of pop music, so the band could keep the crowd entertained during Friday night football games. What struck me then was that, to write parts for all the instruments - brass, woodwind, percussion, even k...
Jul. 24, 2016 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,133
This digest provides an overview of good resources that are well worth reading. We’ll be updating this page as new content becomes available, so I suggest you bookmark it. Also, expect more digests to come on different topics that make all of our IT-hearts go boom!
Jul. 24, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,478