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The answers Yes, what’s the question? 9 September, 2010

Posted by varoom in Strategy.

In tough times the temptation for small companies is to become driven by customers every demand to develop products on their request. In my own past experience I’ve said to customers “The answers Yes, What’s the question?” and they love it! This may seem a fine strategy and may get you some short to medium term success over the competition but in the world of ever reducing product life spans the customers “event horizon” comes nearer and their view of the long term future cab become less reliable. The customer is staring into their own crystal ball and they could be wrong about the future.

In addition product development cycles are not shortening in the same way and the danger of your developing a product, on request of your customer, is that when you deliver it the world has changed and your customer wants/needs something quite different. You may have won the market over with your revolutionary product and then held on with incremental or evolutionary improvements but nothing last forever and you need to look for the next revolution before someone else finds it.

Your survival depends on you having an independent view of what the long term product roadmap needs to be. You need to survey a wider market scope than a single customer, integrate information from multiple sources, develop your own expertise in the segment and create an independent vision for the future.

This is a gamble! You might be wrong! But there is a saying, “Companies that innovate MAY fail, but those that don’t WILL fail.”