“I don’t understand why customers are having trouble with the sign-up process for that service”
I was in one of those kinds of meetings full of the uppity ups, the kind of meeting where you want to hopefully leave a good impression* because who is in attendance.
We were looking at solving a problem related to customers struggling with the sign-up process for one of our services, and we were struggling to come up with a solution because, well, we simply didn’t understand why customers were having problems.
But then again, why would we?
I was arguably the least technical person in the room (with respect to computers and programming anyway), and I can still build a server or a PC from spare parts relatively easily.
So imagine what the other people can do.
Just like everyone else in the room, old computers get turned into home servers; they’re multiple computers in use in my home at any one time (currently using three in my home office).
A new technology or gadget comes out, quite a few of us go right out and buy it out of curiosity.
I think everyone I work with has some combination of Xbox, PlayStation, Roku or Apple TV in their homes, yet, quite a few of us were on Amazon looking to buy the Chromecast when it came out. I mean it was only $35.00 and we’re curious nerds with disposable income, why wouldn’t we buy it?
Another example of the disconnect is that consumers often think of Smart Phones as iPhones, Samsung S4s and other models, whereas we nerds think iOS, Android, etc.
For the record we did come up with some options on resolving the problem, but I feel we didn’t quite get there, as we simply don’t completely grok why the problem exists in the first place.
The recent success of MS Office for iPad (top ten in free downloads, top ten in revenue**) got me thinking about that meeting from a few years back, and how so many technologists and people who write about tech are completely detached from the average consumer.
Namely: it got me thinking about the naysayers, those who felt that iPad users had already adopted alternatives and didn’t care about office, people who felt that office was old news, the techno-snobs who look down on it simply because it’s older than say Google Docs, iWork or Open Office, as opposed to considering the features, etc.
I saw more than a few sarcastic remarks about the MS Office for iPad on my social media feeds from people I’ve worked with over the years. Common theme was “too little too late”, or “old tech no one cares about”.
While you could argue that perhaps I shouldn’t have taken some of those comments seriously, the flipside is that many of those people are technology professionals if not executives, good ones at that.
Looks like Microsoft got the last laugh.
All that being said: all of this could’ve been avoided if someone had just taken a survey of business professionals who own iPads and use MS Office, and asked them: if they wanted MS Office for iPad; as opposed to evaluating the market through the prism of your own perceptions.
While it can be hard to tap the pulse of the consumer’s interest and no should be derided too hard for missing the boat, if you try to tape the pulse of the consumer by using your own pulse you’re almost guaranteed to be wrong in the tech market.
So the question offered is: due to being brainiac nerds with a lot of disposable income, what else are we missing the boat on as far as product and service offerings?
Final thought: the success of MS Office for iPad is a clear example of how tech companies might need to stop thinking along the lines of locking people into their ecosystem, and think more in terms of being cross-platform. If I were a Microsoft executive I would be crying myself to sleep right now thinking about all the money that was left on the table by not offering Office for iPad as SOON as the iPad was released and heavily adopted.
If I were one of the execs in charge of saying no to the iPad I would be at my Mama’s house*** right now crying my eyes out.
*At one such meeting I was given an “atta boy” for something I had worked on, and I joked “I should just go home now, it’s probably all downhill from here”
These meetings also remind me of gym class in high school and the times where we weren’t separated by gender or when the girls could at least see us, or say a girl you like showing up to one of your sporting events. There is something in the mind of a teenage boy that is convinced that higher athletic performance = booty. Still I remember running a race and falling behind around 250-300 meters, remembering that a certain girl was at the track meet and blasting by everyone for the win.
But then I threw up, so it wasn’t that cool in the end.
**It’s worth noting that only “some” of the revenue generated by Office for iPad comes through the Apple App Store, other revenue either goes direct to Microsoft (E.g. Business Versions) and/or people attach the app to existing Office 365 subscriptions. I.e. the Apple revenue lags behind the total revenue and may lag rather significantly.
***Unfortunately for me my Mom wouldn’t offer much in the way of sympathy, if anything is an anathema to Caribbean immigrants it’s leaving money on the table. I mean, my Dad once told me about being irritated at his partners for taking about 10-15% less than he thinks they could’ve gotten on a business deal, a deal that occurred seven years ago. So, yeah, I would be a grown man in trouble with his parents. ß Partially joking here.