Customer-centric is one of my mantras. I’ve often quoted that chart from the IBM book, “The Customer-centered Enterprise”, that puts Microsoft at the Product-Driven end of the scale, rather than the Customer-centric end of the scale. Well I think I’ve got to back off a little. First there’s all that employee blogging that’s going on in Microsoft. They’re really trying to dialogue more with their customers and potential customers.
Now we have MSN Search. Of course you could say they’re trying to catch up to Google. There’s also all the money to be made from Search Engine Advertizing. However you could read more in to it. In a way Search is heading in that customer-centric direction.
Look at any Internet browser screen on any computer monitor. You’ll probably see two fields where you may enter words to trigger some browsing action. One is the Address Field, the other is the Search Field on some Toolbar or other. You could see that Address Field as being product-driven. The format is set by the browser and you’ve got to get it right. Some browsers will try limited ‘corrections’ or even a search if you get it wrong, but it’s all pretty constrained. Unless you fit the rules set by domain names, etc. you won’t get the result.
The Search Field on the other hand is designed to work for the ‘customer’. Whatever you type in, the Search Engine will try to do something sensible with it. To design the Search Field well, the designer had to put himself or herself into the shoes of typical searchers. That’s customer-centric.
Microsoft may have come to all this late. However like many other companies they’re finding that product-driven doesn’t hack it in this customer-centric market place.