It’s almost a given. The primary focus of the majority of companies in technology markets is innovation. Technology innovation. And its been that way for years, right? The vast majority of the messages and focus is new products or product improvements. And that is often how many of us view the power of a tech company–how innovative are they?
But even in the past, technology innovation has not been the only driver of success. Even while many were touting the demise of Microsoft as their pace and rate of success with tech innovation slowed, we failed to recognize the ongoing value of innovations that were key drivers in Microsoft’s ability to establish a market dominance. Namely their early business model that heralded the ecosystem era—cultivating broad support of developers for their platforms to create a two sided market that provided value for producers and consumers. And, their channel model–another ecosystem of types where partners built their business around Microsoft.
It was not pure technology innovation that pushed Microsoft to their position. It was go-to-market strategies. And those relationships are hard to break. They may experience some issues and there will be transitions, but they provide a strong protective force to weather some mistakes and accelerate successes.
The recognition that success is about more than technology is growing (I think we have always known it, but it is easy to get seduced by cool technology). In fact, a recent survey of CEOs in tech providers demonstrates this shift (Gartner Tech Provider Clients: You can see more information on this survey in the report created by my colleague Todd Berkowitz: “Technology Provider CEOs Believe That Customer Experience Provides a Winning Strategy).
While investment in new technology for products and services continues to be a priority (55% of the CEOs ranked it in their top 2), a focus on innovating in the way their companies engage with customers was a top priority for more CEOs (58%). They are recognizing that changing market conditions, particularly more tech-savvy business buyers, requires them to become more industry and business focused, to adapt their sales practices, and to think about new delivery models.
And, more importantly, they feel this shift is paying off where it counts. 42% of the CEOs cited improvements in customer experience and service as the key change that has driven more wins (Incidentally, the combination of new or better products was only 15%).
This shift is important for everyone and is good to see. But there is still work to do. Years of inertia take time to change. But recognizing the situation and taking steps to improve has happened. Now it’s all about continued progress and focus–some changes will deliver results quickly. Others may take longer (and could cause what feels like a step back). But there is no question the market has changed. Leadership through the change is critical. Our survey indicates that CEOs understand that and are taking action to lead through the change.
That is a great sign for the tech industry.