Listening to clients as they search for the best software solutions struggle with the sameness of description that the software providers use to describe their wares. A refrain from the Pete Seeger song from the 1960’s (but written by Malvina Reynolds) comes to mind. (If you are one of the rare individuals not to have experienced the existential melange of glee and dread that comes from listening to this brief strum, then here it is… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUwUp-D_VV0). But here you get the idea:
There’s a pink one and a green one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
And so off we go as prospective users of systems for multi-channel and cross-channel consistency, and omni-channel capabilities, and look at customer experience suites, customer assistance, social customer engagement, and customer engagement and on and on mining for gold but mostly facing the giant mullock heaps of non-differentiation.
Here is what would be nice: rather than the suppliers just listing their capabilities and products, maybe instead the prospect could create a ‘day in the life’ description of their issue: the business outcomes, the locations, the preferences for specific models (on premise/private-cloud/public cloud/hybrid delivery), the number and type of users and their locations. And then using the vendor-supplied template and some configuration logic, Presto, an ‘outside-in’ response to the client/customer/prospect issue.
That, the vendors would say, would be really hard. And then we look at new sites like roomsurf ( www.roomsurf.com/ ) where a half-million US rising university students find roommates by completing surveys about their wants/needs and then finding a match, and then you ask yourself: how hard would it be, really? What would it cost compared to the massive Marketing budgets put in place to obfuscate even as they pretend to reveal uniqueness?
This only happens when prospects become more demanding. Many of us are highly influenced by the company whose messages appear most prominently and most frequently and have the awareness and tacit approval of the CIO/CFO/CEO. Then the incredibly talented smaller providers end up spinning their wheels attempting to get a space at the table despite great products.
So, dear CIO and VP of Sales or Customer Experience or Support/Care, are we ready to demand more focus on an ‘outside-in’ set of messages from vendors, or do we keep humming Little Boxes?