Larry Ellison appears to believe that the number of products Oracle sells is important. In his view, more is better. But reviewing his OpenWorld keynote slides from yesterday, many of the purported software “products” appear to be little more than customer specific releases, industry variants, product features or feature sets that barely justify the label of “module” let alone “product”. Is a one feature product really a product? The app-ification of the enterprise applications market is a symptom of the broader consumerization of IT. But is it helpful?
Given that psychologists routinely state that the human mind can only handle 5 plus or minus 2 concepts concurrently, does a product portfolio of hundreds of distinct items really help or hinder a provider? Admittedly, individual sales people wont usually have to try and position the whole lot. But even if they only have to push a dozen or so products is it a viable model? Equally, customers will invariably focus on the things that matter to them at a given point in time and so they will “only” have to select from dozens rather than hundreds of options. Choice is good. But like all good things, too much of it might be less beneficial.
Overly granular portfolios dilute. Forcing every feature to justify itself commercially can be counter-productive. Many features are enablers of other features. Their inherent value may be minimal until combined with that of their functional peers. Feature synergies are a reality. Arbitrarily requiring customers to select which are in and which are out could lead to the customer missing out on the value they need and desire. Isn’t it the responsibility of the provider to make it easy for their customer to realize value? If it is, then surely it is beholden upon the provider to package their capabilities in such a way that make value realization more likely?
Navigating customer value hierarchies and dependencies is a critical skill that every provider needs to master. Check out my recent webinar on creating compelling value stories for guidance on how to model value drivers and more importantly how to reconcile your product or service benefits profiles against them in a plausible and engaging manner… http://my.gartner.com/webinardetail/resId=2680132
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