It takes us a long time for our paradigms to change. We’re so heavily invested in the products that are prevalent in our industry that change is hard for everyone. It’s the customers who have paid a fortune for their systems who resist change, the services portion of the industry that is invested in the knowledge they have for the current product offerings, and every other aspect you can imagine stands in the way of change.
Few Early Adopters, Here
There’s a model that describes selling high-tech products outlined in a famous book entitled Crossing the Chasm. It puts customers into categories. One such category is the “early adopter” which would be those people so excited about a new technology that they’ll try it, first. Few of the customers in our industry are early adopters. Most will wait until the technology is turned into an easily-usable model.
For example, many customers might have been interested in cloud-hosted products but waited until other customers came up with lists of questions that would allow a customer to evaluate whether a cloud solution was appropriate for their needs.
Meanwhile, Paradigms are Shifting
Since I occasionally do product selection activities with customers, I do see some of the newer products coming available and becoming popular (I hesitate to say what they are since I haven’t yet determined why they’re so popular and if it’s just advertising, that’s not sufficient for me to be excited about it). Also, since I sometimes work with software vendors to add features to their products to make them more salable, I do pay general attention to some of what is available.
However, last week, something happened to shake me up – I was working with a new software vendor to evaluate their system and they showed me something that is simple and is common but also powerful AND that I don’t see other vendors doing. I was blown-away because it was just so really fantastic (and, no, I can’t tell you what it is).
Two days later, I was having coffee with someone I know who is a board member for a software company in a different industry. We were discussing how hard it is for established products to change and how the company he is working with is working to accomplish this. Thus, we got into a conversation that led me to tell him what had happened in the software I just mentioned in the last paragraph (we discussed it, in general, not specifically; I just want to let every software vendor I work with on their product growth know that I’m not out there giving out your details).
Actually, what made me laugh a bit is that I didn’t really tell him as much as he guessed before I could finish my sentence. Every industry has the same issue. We all think other industries are ahead of us and we’re not. But, I digress…
Change is in the Air but it Sometimes Stinks
Established vendors have to determine what it is that will bring them to the new paradigm without ruining what they’ve already built. Let’s be honest – when you have a large customer base, you can’t ignore them for the possible future customers that you might or might not obtain. However, you can’t let yourself fall entirely behind, either.
Yet it’s not an easy transition. Using the cloud as an example, there are some legacy products that are now offering cloud solutions but the solutions are horrible – slow and with too much downtime, for example. As a warning, it’s not an easy transition to make. If you’re a customer, I would suggest you make a copy of what you’re running, internally, and insist your vendor host it for you to try out. It’s hard to do because you’re busy but if you switch to something that’s unreliable or not fully thought-out you’ll be sorry for a lot of reasons.
Change is here, it’s finally starting to happen in a bigger wave and, soon, what we think of as “change” will be our normal that we will hold onto as if our lives depend upon it, refusing to change, again, until absolutely forced to.