For a good part of the last two decades, companies have been building software solutions to solve enterprise problems either as a product or as a service or a blend of both. From getting rid of physical files, removing manual calculations, going online, centralizing operations, automating processes, to recent trends like cloud & analytics, software solutions have been constantly going through major transformations.
But in most phases till now, software products & solutions to large extent have only looked at the “what”s of customer needs. Do they need a report displaying some data? Do they need a user interface to store information? Do they need automation of some task? Do they need a workflow to track progress?
A lot of product companies work on basis of the motto ‘What customers want is most important’ & these requirements eventually become the only input to the product roadmap. But are products just about that? Customers know what they want, no doubt. But do they know what they can get? The famous quote by Henry Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”, is probably the root of all product innovations.
It’s time the “why”s take the driver’s seat. If a customer wants a feature, it is important to understand why they need it. If they want a report, the first step probably should be about understanding why they need it. For example, a report depicting the margins for products launched in past 6 months is probably being used to decide which products should be discontinued & where the investment should increased or where more marketing focus is needed. So why not tell them that directly instead of throwing out a report & leaving the rest for interpretation?
A recent conversation that we had with a Communication Service Provider (CSP) is a perfect example. The need as explained to us was to monitor margins for different content services & television packages launched by the CSP. With multiple parties involved in the value chain, it was proving to be difficult to monitor margins taking the retail revenue & the partner costs into consideration. We were asked if we could allow analysis of the cost/revenue/margin data with filters like products, amounts & regions. Of course, we could do that. That is table stakes. What we wanted to know was what they did, with that data. It came out that the aim was to understand low & high performing products, low & high performing regions so that discounts, promotions etc., can be launched to boost sales. We said, ‘Great! So we’ll give you that directly’. We will profile the cost/revenue data and tell you where you should be launching a new promotion campaign. We’ll build the intelligence that you manually apply today so that you can concentrate on bigger things.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the word ‘analytics’ in hundred different contexts in the industry today. If you are wondering what it’s all about, then this is it: Showing you results in terms of the whys . At Subex, the basis of product development is the whys of market & customer needs. Our analytics platform ‘Rocware’, our virtual RA analyst ‘Zen’, our integrated analytics module in Wholesale Partner Management are all about the whys of a CSP’s business.