One of the things that always concern me about doing B2B related products and services is that the user is almost always different from the one who is actually paying the bill. What might constitute a problem for someone down in the organization can be totally overlooked at C-level, making it super hard to get the good solution in the hands of the people who actually need it.
I think there are several ways to try to deal with this. One is the obvious one: Make the solution so inexpensive that it falls well within the limits of discretionary spending that people in the organization may have. In other words: Give them the opportunity to buy it themselves.
The other one is more of a workaround but nonetheless important: Develop the pitch for the C-suite and KNOW full well that aside from having to convince your users, there is a key task in being able to make the hard sell where the money is. If that is where it’s at, it should be as important for you as building the product itself.
One of the things that really excites me is to investigate problem spaces to see if there are any good solutions to the problems at hand – or if there is an abundance of opportunity to do better.
I think that Mike Shipulski has an interesting point in arguing that instead of talking about disruption, we should be talking about how we get from “No” to “Yes”; how we create solutions that are above and beyond the existing solutions when it comes to actually solving the problems or meeting the needs of the customer.
I like it because it is almost a binary choice rather than a fluffy, watered down concept; how can we make something that wasn’t possible before and let the customers be better off? I think that binary, straight forward question is the key to a lot of success in innovation.
Some people might need a guide to sourcing disruptive ideas. For the rest of us, we all – I bet – are painfully aware of where we tend to have our most bright flashes or epiphany moments.
For us it is more a question about being able to capture them than to get to them in the first place. I for one am one of those people that tend to get ideas in the shower, and it is not always that practical, when you know you need to jot something down now, before you forget the train of thought, when you’re all covered by soap, and the water is running.
Where do you get your most inspired moments? And what do you do to safe them for eternity? And when you save them, what usually happens afterwards with them? Do you act on them? Why? Why not? And how do you make the distinction? I am curious to know.
Yesterday, the company I chose to deliver fiber to my home made their best effort to loose me as a customer. Due to unfortunate circumstances I narrowly missed a visit by a technician, and when I called them to figure out what went wrong, the customer support was rude and hung up on me.
Companies behaving that way may have a good or even great product. But they have a shitty customer experience. And in a day and age where basically everybody can do anything, the true differentiator between winning and losing as a business with the customer is precisely what happened to me: A shitty customer experience.
Whether you are in a corporate or getting your own startup off the ground you should aim to lead by experience; be the most open, accommodating, empathetic and what have you. Because even if I as a customer come to you with a problem, I will remember you cared – and I will our relationship an extra shot.
The events of recent years have shown that with great technology comes great benefit and great risk. Even the best services and tools can be used in ways that have opposite consequences of what was intended. And the risk of the latter happening gets compounded when the genie is out of the bottle; it gets super hard to stop again. In most instances it is not even possible.
For that reason we need to design products, services and tools in a different way. Where we have long made security a key component of how we think about designing systems, we should also have what I would call the flipside as a key consideration: How could this be exploited to evil ends, and what do we build into the product or service that will help prevent that.
I think that it is both a needed thing to do and a potential gamechanger for many. Trust has eroded in a lot of the platforms and companies that have struggle with ‘doing no evil’, and tomorrows winners will be those that serve an entirely good purpose and – by design – prohibits evil exploitation.
Starting today, food-delivery company Deliveroo will no longer be delivering meals from restaurants in Germany. While in itself there is nothing spectacular about a business exiting a market, it is spectacular that the notice to the companies delivery people – riders, as they are called – was only FOUR days.
Variable low-wage pay, unclear working conditions and – as it turns out – non-existing notices of termination are some of the flip sides of what is being called the Gig Economy. And while – again – there is nothing wrong with a flexible work environment presenting new opportunities to people looking for something else than ‘a regular job’, we need to be aware of the fact that every coin always have two sides to it.
We are so accustomed to hearing all the stories about innovative new ways of doing things, sharing things etc, and how it is all the rage for the future. We need to remember that there may be some other truths behind the stories essentially driving the need for glossy narratives. And we need to have an open discussion about these things in order to avoid creating a future society with too much tension between those who have a lot and those who have very little. That tension NEVER ends in a good place.
Hat tip: @tveskov for the headline
Yesterday I met with an former colleague who stepped down from a C-level job to essentially become a landlord renting out spare rooms in his house and making a nice flexible living doing so. It was very inspiring – and surprising.
We took a walk, and he ‘walked’ me through his business and how he operates it. How he essentially tests every little twist and turn with his guests in order to figure out what works and what doesn’t. And how he always keeps his eye on the operational aspect of it all making sure that the operation is as automated as it can get and relies as little as possible on him actually being there to take care of things.
The operational aspect was mindblowing; always staying one step ahead thinking about everything making sure that what you do is manageable from an operations point-of-view – not making it too complex in the process. The idea is fascinating and intellectually stimulating, and I think there is a lot of value to be had there for start-ups by thinking along the same lines to make things efficient, reduce burn-rate etc. I will definitely be working more on that.
What does it mean to have something of real economic value that customers want? Is it to have the best product within a category worth an extra charge, or is it to have a product that sits so well with the belief system of the customer that they are willing to pay a premium price for?
Luckily, it seems to be the latter. And it is great for a couple of reasons.
First of all, it vindicates those who strive for domination within a niche by building run-of-the-mill products that are just cheaper for customers to buy. Personally, I have never been a big fan of competiting on price because I don’t fance the end game; essentially free offerings. Second, I find it reassuring that despite everything else that is going on, customers are still looking to pay decent money for offerings that fits well with their personal belief system(s). This should be a welcome call-to-arms for everybody working on making customers better off.
Greg Satell makes a very important point when arguing that even the best ideas cant’ make it on their own – they all need an ecosystem to thrive. Without they risk losing out to lesser ideas properly seeded through various channels. And that is – often – a real shame.
The point is worth mentioning because a lot of people with great ideas are very protective of them. For one, they fear someone will steal their idea, while in reality there are most probably already at least one or two competing teams working on the same thing somewhere in the world. Second, they want the most possible ownership to the idea, fully forgetting that it’s better to have 50 percent of a winner than 100 percent of a loser.
From all my experience in working with partnerships and – by extension – ecosystems, it seems to me that people still don’t really ‘get’ it when it comes to creating win-win relationships. If you start to think about it, it is a scary amount of potential value creation that gets left on the table every single day.
Considering all the progress electricity, the combustion engine and other major breakthroughs generated inside 50 years of inception, digital still has very little impactful progress to show for it. At least that’s the argument, Greg Satell makes.
To some extend he is absolutely right. Even though some real breakthroughs have happened and made a lot of things easier – shopping, booking travel etc. – if you think about the money spent, the money wasted, real challenges uncovered and real challenges created by digital, you could argue that he has a point.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is still possible to put real challenges – global challenges – at the centre of digital innovation and have those as our guiding posts. It is just a matter of our will. Human will. Not digital as such. Digital is just an enabler. And a potent one at that.