Monday, July 14, 2008

Say it like it is, Hoff!

Hoff's one smart dude when it comes to computer and network security - truly top notch. The context of this commentary was his field, but it's scary how spot on he is with respect to Industrial Automation software - particularly the early stages of FactorySQL and FactoryPMI. Sigh...

Ah, the innovator's dilemma...

If you have a product that well and truly does X, Y and Z, where X is a feature that conforms and fits into a defined category but Y and Z -- while truly differentiating and powerful -- do not, you're forced to focus on, develop around and hype X, label your product as being X, and not invest as much in Y and Z.

If you miss the market timing and can't afford to schmooze effectively and don't look forward enough with a business model that allows for flexibility, you may make the world's best X, but when X commoditizes and Y and Z are now the hottest "new" square, chances are you won't matter anymore, even if you've had it for years.

The product managers, marketing directors and salesfolk are forced to fit a product within an analyst's arbitrary product definition or risk not getting traction, miss competitive analysis/comparisons or even get funding; ever try to convince a VC that they should fund you when you're the "only one" in the space and there's no analyst recognition of a "market?"

Yech.

A vendor's excellent solution can simply wither and die on the vine in a battle of market definition attrition because the vendor is forced to conform and neuter a product in order to make a buck and can't actually differentiate or focus on the things that truly make it a better solution.

Who wins here?

Not the vendors. Not the customers. The analysts do.

The vendor pays them a shitload of kowtowing and money for the privilege to show up in a box so they get recognized -- and not necessarily for the things that truly matter -- until the same analyst changes his/her mind and recognizes that perhaps Y and Z are "real" or creates category W, and the vicious cycle starts anew.

So while you're a vendor struggling to make a great solution or a customer trying to solve real business problems, who watches the watchers?

/Hoff

2 comments:

industrial LCD touch screens said...

Very interesting!

Pratibha K said...

Hi Nathan,

In connection with something I am working on re the industrial software market, I would love to have a chat with you for your expertise. Please let me know if okay.

Pratibha