Wednesday, February 08, 2012

More Context Not More Features

I have been talking to a number of experienced product managers who develop and sell OnDemand collaboration systems to line of business buyers. They shared an important insight with me. They could not convince their buyers about the value of their products until they added functionality that brought business context into the collaboration tool.

Software providers who are selling to the IT department, such as the providers of SharePoint, IBM Connections and Jive,do not have to worry about context, at least to make the sale. Once the sale is made, they can rely on partners to build integration with business process applications.

If you are the product manager of an OnDemand collaboration tool, you need to make a decision. Are you selling a general purpose collaboration tool to the IT department competing against vendors such as Microsoft, IBM and Jive or selling to the line of business folks who expect business context to be built into the collaboration tool right from day one.

If your plan is to sell to the line of business folks, you need to put context first and features next. For the record, I will put my money on collaboration tools that put business context into the core of their products.

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