Let’s take the LG’s Internet refrigerator where for a cool $20,000 you could surf the net from and keep your eggs fresh at the same time. Problem was that a lot of kitchens weren’t really wired for Internet connectivity (wireless wasn’t an option). Furthermore, you had to be facing the refrigerator to read the monitor. Imagine the goofy dance that you had to do between the recipe-bearing fridge and counter just get out batch of mom’s peanut butter cookies.
So in a nutshell, the faster companies try to go-to-market with products, the more potential there is for embarrassing implementation misses. As an IT-oriented company, we know that ignoring the customer perspective directly equates to software that has as much market impact as the Cosmopolitan-branded yogurt (It was apparently yanked from all shelves within 18 months). It’s just way too easy to miss the mark.
So beyond the focus groups, usability studies, and beta programs that our industry uses to match product with customer expectations, we go one step farther. Some people call it eating their dog food; we call it the Day In the Life program. This is a program where our developers put on an IT hat and do IT projects during late-night maintenance windows. We use all our own software to manage and secure our production workstations. This helps us to improve the quality of our product by finding bugs, feature ideas, and workflow enhancements. Even more importantly, we learn to appreciate what it is like to be in IT and ultimately understand our customers better. So the next time you are sitting behind a console late on a Friday night installing the newest software, don’t feel alone… We were there too! And hopefully that means you won’t be there for too long.
Now of course we like to beta test too, so if you were inclined to try out some of our software and send us your opinion, we would love to hear from you! Feel free to send me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Happy Hunting!