In thinking about the theme of my next newsletter, I got to thinking about the pace at which technology grows. Why do we get higher versions of any software? So many were happy with Windows 98. On it goes, Windows ME, Windows 2000 and now Windows XP. Then I noticed a recent article that was a great illustration of my thought. Apparently Microsoft is unhappy about the rate of corporate acceptance of Windows XP. Well surprise, surprise!
Of course, in an excellent book, “The Customer-Centered Enterprise, How IBM and Other World-class Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results by Putting Customers First”, Microsoft was rated at the Product-Driven end of the scale rather than the Customer-Centric end of the scale. Isn’t that just the truth? Microsoft is a company that is driven by the capabilities of the technology? .. and if you’re employed by Microsoft, spend most of your time with people employed by Microsoft, eat, drink, breathe Microsoft, it’s tough to not be product-driven. Customer-centric is really tough. How can you get into the mindset of a customer? What do customers really want?
It’s not just Microsoft. Just think how often you have some device that works perfectly fine and it’s upgraded. The upgrade features are minimal but in the best case, one or two are nice to have. So upgrade follows upgrade. Then they stop supporting the older versions so you have to upgrade. You may think it’s all a clever marketing plot to get more money out of you. However in a Permission Marketing world that’s somewhat dumb. If you irritate the customers, you leave the door open for some competitor to sneak in.
My own guess is that many companies aren’t really manipulative. They’re so product driven that they go at the pace that technology allows, not at the pace that customers are looking for new benefits. If only they were more customer-centric,then they would undoubtedly have better product development and more profitable sales growth.