I’m in tech. In tech, we market innovation. We let you do something you couldn’t do before. We have a better way, a faster way, a cheaper way. We are, therefore we innovate.
Mostly, our prospective customers aren’t looking to be on the bleeding edge of anything, they’re looking for an easier way to solve their problems. They want to be more efficient and more effective in their jobs. They want the information they need, when they need it. They want what we all want: simple.
And if ‘simple’ is the goal, there are two areas of innovation where we should be focused.
User Experience Innovation
Are our products really as easy to use as they could be? Is the interface completely intuitive? Are our product easy to try? Can prospects see the value for themselves when they try our product? Are there easy ways for them to share their successes with our products?
For most of us, the answers to these questions are somewhere between ‘no’ and ‘not really’ — and herein lies the innovation opportunity.
I’ve written before about the dawn of Age of Me where b2b customers carry their b2c expectations with them to work. And when they do, they expect a streamlined, elegant, and simple user experience. I would submit that the future of the software industry belongs to those companies who make user experience a core competency and a competitive differentiator.
may will require culture in most tech organizations. Fine. To win, we must prioritize user experience — from first touch to first purchase to upgrade. This is, in many cases, more valuable than adding additional features.
And given the user experience in most b2b software, there is ample space for some really cool innovation.
Business Model Innovation
But it goes even further – innovation doesn’t need to involve bits at all. It could be in our go to market strategy or in the way we monetize our technologies. As I’ve noted before, the traditional b2b software sales model is dying. The ‘sales’ model is being replaced by a ‘buying’ model where the customer drives the process.
The new winners will acknowledge how prospective customers consume technology and devise innovative ways to grease the process. This might involve a ‘freemium’ product strategy or a SaaS based delivery strategy that minimizes time-to-value. Regardless of the strategy employed, the point is that there is significant scope for innovation in how prospects engage with your products and your company.
As with our product definition and our positioning, it all starts with the target customer. What is their current process for evaluating and acquiring software to solve the problem we solve? Where are the bugs in this process? How could it be better? What do they hate about doing business with the incumbents? What would it take for them to love their vendor?
Now, all of this might seem obvious. But if it’s obvious, why aren’t more of us investing more time and money in user experience and business model innovation?