Sunday, May 26, 2013

Succeeding With Collaboration

Ask customers what they want in many product categories and they can intuitively jump from understanding what the product does today, to what they want it to do in the future.  With collaboration, though, customers need help visualizing the product promise.  The implication for those focused on collaboration is big  …. if customers don’t have a mental starting point today, they can’t imagine what better collaboration looks like tomorrow.  This realization struck me over the last week from three different angles:

·         From the vendors …….

Google is moving towards having Google+ as an underlying platform for many of its collaboration services.  Experts think it is a solid product, but what about the average user Google is trying to capture?  Forbes writes that people are having trouble understanding the value proposition. 

Takeaway:  Collaboration products have to be delivered towards a value proposition, not in search of a value proposition

·         From popular culture …..

Science fiction has a place in shaping the advancements we see in technology and consumer products.  Perhaps a stretch to call Star Trek Into Darkness science fiction, but when my son and I saw the movie, I was struck at how everything but collaboration had been re-imagined.  Warp speed - check.  Teleportation - check.  But what about collaboration?  They still use hand held communicators and communication advancements were focused on speed over distance, not better collaboration.  I can’t think of many books or movies that paint a compelling vision of what collaboration in the future should be. 

Takeaway:  Vision matters - we have to first be able to imagine a better collaboration future before we can realize it

·         From the experts …..

I was part of an expert discussion on new collaboration products.  As features were explained, the audience was not grasping the value.  Only when a top down use case was demonstrated did the value come into focus.  Collaboration selling is often done within the traditional technology “speeds and feeds” paradigm.  Collaboration today has no clear “speeds and feeds” with features still evolving

Takeaway:  Successfully selling collaboration requires an evolved go-to-market model

Collaboration holds great promise with a few gating factors holding back the market.  Successfully selling collaboration requires cementing a vision, creating purpose built technology and driving go-to-market coordination between product/marketing/sales.

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