Strategic product marketing can be a powerful and compelling tool.
Take the Apple iPad as an example:
- The iPad was conceived and designed as an Internet-enabled multimedia device, borrowing a key feature from Apple’s portable product line-up — The iTunes/App Store.
- The App Store is what drives Apple’s massive profits and continues to pay dividends in perpetuity.
- Apple goes to great lengths to ensure the devices they produce are trendy and evoke a feeling that their product will improve everything about its user’s life.
- Every aspect of the Apple experience has been carefully crafted to justify seemingly impossible margins and ownership costs.
- The capabilities of the product are mostly inconsequential. Apple has hyped the iPad as a “superhero” device that can accomplish anything; simply find what you need in the world’s largest app store.
The reality for most businesses:
The iPad can provide utility for businesses but don’t expect it to live up to the hype.
- Greater development and code maintenance cost as compared to web applications for a full-featured PC.
- Less flexibility than competing laptops; in areas like application availability, peripheral options, and application/web browser compatibility.
- Increased investment risk if the business later decides to migrate off of the iOS platform.
- Limited upgrade options; additional storage needs or a different cellular carrier necessitates the purchase of a new unit.
- Expected useful life in a typical business environment is 24-36 months; 12-24 months less than a laptop.
Sure, you don’t have to update your iPad like you would a laptop… or do you? How often does your iPad state, “Update is Available” ? With about a dozen apps on my iPad, I’m updating apps at the rate of once per week.
The psychological impact:
The reality does not matter. Business leaders are tricked into believing the marketing and media hype and begin to call for the integration of these technologies into their business. At what point did these savvy folks forget everything that made their business a success and ignore the need for a formal requirements process?
I call this the “back-in” method. We are captivated by a new and interesting technology and simply must have it. This new technology will somehow transform the way business is done without requiring any review, design, development, testing, documentation, training, and/or maintenance. Simply put: there is no technology that will do this for a business.
Countless times I have seen businesses (both public and private) spend a great deal of money on the latest gadgets only to have them consume space in a desk drawer or become play toys for employee’s children. Who here remembers PDAs? The process of identifying inefficiencies and developing new methodologies is tedious and sometimes downright boring, which is why many wishful managers think maybe this new gadget will be different!
Businesses that are serious about process improvement will quickly find that even if a new technology can help the business, there is a great deal of groundwork that must be in place before that can happen.