The Dropbox Box Expands

November 5, 2014

Dropbox-Logo

I’m at Dell World 2014 this week in Austin, Texas. As I was walking the exhibition floor, Daniel Bernard from Dropbox asked if I was familiar with Dropbox for Business. Reflexively, I answered “yes.”

In the fog of the all the visual and auditory input of the show, I missed the context. I thought he was asking about me “using Dropbox for business,” not a product named “Dropbox for Business.” I soon realized he meant something different and acknowledged I wasn’t familiar with “Dropbox for Business.”

Why? Dropbox has been known as being more for consumer and small business use due to it’s ease of use. It has not been known for being “enterprise-ready.” Here’s the box I put Box and Dropbox in:

  • Box for enterprise and small business
  • Dropbox for consumer and very small business

I’m sure Box would enjoy the positioning I’ve ascribed to their solutions. Yet, Daniel was really wanting to speak to me about a more robust set of features and functions suitable for small business and the enterprise. He went on to show me features and functions that convinced me they’ve grown, they’ve evolved, and they want to play at a different level than they were able to 2 or 3 years ago. This highlights a point I made previously in a post called  Are You Boxed In? In that blog post, I wrote:

When you or your company becomes known for something, the marketplace draws lines around what you represent to the world effectively boxing you in. Over time, you may grow the size of your box many times as you add new products and services. However, be aware — it is harder for the marketplace to grasp that your box has really grown and evolved, particularly if you have name recognition and are known for being in a particular space or area. Getting the marketplace to understand your company’s new box versus the original box is a pretty steep hill to climb.

Dell has a similar challenge as it moves to be an end-to-end solution provider. Dell World is one of the actions Dell is taking to show CIOs how much its box has grown. I’m happy to report, Dell is doing a terrific job in the transformation.

If you are boxed in, it takes a lot of energy of help those who know you or your company to see you as something different. I’m glad I spent a few minutes learning how Dropbox is evolving.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2014 Dave Gardner


What makes your product best?

February 18, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: innovation

I attended a media/analyst event and heard a company claiming to be “the best” in their product category. That sounds like the hoopla you’d expect at this type of event. But, such a claim without substantiation is weak.

It’s not enough to merely proclaim you are the best. It’s far more important to back that up with how you’ve been able to achieve best-in-class capability. What makes your solution unique? Is there a “secret sauce?”

In this specific instance, it would have been easy to believe that “best in class” was derived from a hardware product simply being combined with Microsoft Windows 8. Yet, when I probed further, the uniqueness was derived from 3 or 4 other companies providing deep intellectual property and capability that would be very challenging for a less capable competitor to duplicate. That’s what I was looking for.

If you are the best, don’t just tell me. Explain to me what it is about your solution that makes it best. Doing this will help your company thrive.

Thought for the week:

“A ‘stuck’ business, whether entrepreneurial in nature or a Fortune 500 company, is one that fails to grow predictably every year, every quarter, every day. If you’re being carried along by the marketplace, then the moment the marketplace dries up, your business is going to dry up, too, because you’re not in control of your destiny. In good times, stuck businesses don’t even realize they’re stuck!” – Jay Abraham, Sticking Point Solution

__

What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

Share


Slow speed and poor execution are killers

February 11, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: business execution

It is said “speed kills.” In business, lack of speed combined with poor execution is a killer.

When a company is terribly late getting to the marketplace, it better be much more than a “me, too” product.

Example: Has any tablet manufacturer even come close to approaching the demand or appeal of Apple’s iPad? No. Yet, it’s out in plain sight for all to behold and reimagine. Yet, nearly 3 years after its launch, it is by far, the preferred tablet in the marketplace.

When HP came out with its WebOS tablet, not only was it late to market, it was a brick with poor performance and lacked the ecosystem iPad owners enjoy. HP killed the product 30 days after launch further tarnishing its brand. Lack of speed combined with poor business execution makes this a case study for years to come in business schools.

I’ve often said no product is better than a bad product. If a product isn’t ready for the marketplace or won’t captivate your customers, why bother? It won’t help you or your company thrive.

Thought for the week:

“We’re drowning in information and starving for knowledge.” -Rutherford D. Rogers

__

What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

Share


FAA Review of 787 Is An Illusion

January 15, 2013

Ray LaHood, the head of the U.S. Government’s Department of Transportation, declared the the Boeing 787 is safe to fly. Yet, in the same press event, LaHood announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will conduct a complete safety review of the 787 to reassess the electrical systems and production process/quality control. This action is unprecedented.

Boeing_787

The FAA doesn’t have the expertise to lead or devise a definitive plan to execute this effort. Given the complexity of the plane and the task, it could take several years before a FAA reassessment plan could be designed and implemented unless Boeing is really going to lead this effort. I suspect the FAA will participate in a safety review but will not lead the effort as has been advanced.

Doesn’t Boeing have the most to gain or lose from the current problems being reported? Boeing must have an extreme sense of urgency to understand and initiate corrective action for any and all of the problems that have surfaced that represent potential threats to the airworthiness of the aircraft.

One can only imagine the setback a catastrophic failure of a 787 would represent for Boeing and the airline industry which is counting on this product to increase efficiencies airlines face serving a global marketplace.

A Japan Airlines 787 had to abort a trip from Boston to Japan due to a fuel leak in a fuel nozzle.  CNN reports that the plane was later flown back to Japan for a more thorough examination. Personally, I would have flown it to Boeing in Seattle or South Carolina for that examination rather than half-way around the world. But, that’s just me.

A final thought: I’m not sure I want Ray LaHood to be a cheerleader for Boeing and the airworthiness of the Boeing 787.  The effort to certify a plane is extensive and exhaustive–I wrote about it in Fast Company. The FAA has already invested some 200,000 hours in the original certification process. But, the sample size for certification is limited.  It is certainly reasonable that supply chain complexities and design or producibility issues will surface as production is ramped up. Realistically, though, the burden is on Boeing.  The FAA can provide oversight, but, let’s not kid ourselves: the oversight is limited.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

Share


Feature Bloat–Where Is Product Management?

September 10, 2012

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” which is offered to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: product management

This past week, I saw the latest release for a company’s software. I was stunned–but not in a good way. The product has become so bloated with its 800 features that I wonder if they’ve ruined their product and their company.

As I thought about all my clients over the years–ranging from start-ups to Fortune 50–I considered where I would interject this solution. I’m hard pressed to see this as the best solution in departments and organizations I’ve worked with. That’s not good.

One of my colleagues asked if customers had requested these changes. The executives insisted they had. Really?

Product management is a critical (yet, often absent) function that should drive the evolution of products and product lines. Product management carefully considers input from customers, sales, dealers, marketing, engineering and customer service and, then, creates a product road map that addresses their customers evolving needs.

More is not always more. Complexity makes my eyes glaze over. If you want to thrive, don’t make your customers and prospects eyes glaze over.

Thought for the week:

“There exist limitless opportunities in every industry. Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.” – Charles Kettering

What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

Share


Product Configurator, Configure, Price, Quote Top Challenges

August 5, 2011

Based on my experience, a few of the top pains include:

* Not approaching this challenge holistically across the enterprise–the configure-price-quote (CPQ) process is disconnected from back-office processes

* Focusing on CPQ as a back-office process rather than a tool and process to engage customers

* Not establishing a product management function that owns the evolution of products and product lines

* Not creating and engaging cross-functional product teams who own the success and profitability of a product line

* Thinking the product configurator technology is going to solve all the problems

* Selecting inappropriate product configurator technology

* Continuing to “engineer-to-order” rather than pre-engineering around product modularity and offering previously rationalized choices within a coherent system for CPQ

* Not having a sustainable, scalable process for adding new features and options

* Trying to be all things to all people leading to an unprofitable or low margin business that is not sustainable while you hope that things will get better–hope is not a strategy

* Not having and engaging in a strategy to drive down the cost of variety

I write about this in my book: “Mass Customization: An Enterprise-Wide Business Strategy” available at Amazon.com. You can read more about it at www.happyabout.com/mass-customization.php

What do you think?

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2011 Dave Gardner

Best practices for the a la carte customer

April 18, 2010

If your company offers configurable products or services, what are the best practices for connecting with your customers?  Your company would:

  • Modularize your offerings in such a way that customer requirements can be derived from standardized modules (or components or capabilities) allowing for acquisition “a la carte.” This, of course, requires that there has been a “rationalization” effort to identify those essential options or value components that customers will require.
  • Maintain a listing—usually within a configurator—of standardized modules as well as any rules for combining the modules into fully-configured customer orders.
  • Provide a means to seamlessly share the same understanding about customer options across the enterprise (with customers, distributors, sales, order administration, and customer service).
  • Extend the capability to create personalized orders and explore quotation alternatives with the customers, distributors and channel partners (extended enterprise) via tools offered and supported for that purpose. This allows customers to conduct a “what if” analysis looking at different capability and pricing options.  [Note: Three things a customer really cares about are (1) what are my options, (2) how much is this set of options going to cost, and, (3) for manufacturers of products, how long will it take to produce it? Truly effective systems need to address all of these issues.]
  • View the likelihood that any two orders would be identical as a coincidence and set up the business accordingly, e.g., complete modularity—no bundles.
  • For product manufacturers, produce orders only after receipt of an order—no stocking of any finished products.

How does the business behave differently?

  • For product and service providers:
    • Orders are driven directly to Order Administration or Customer Service
    • Development, Product Management and/or Marketing is involved only when a new module is needed.
    • Product management makes determinations about “saleable” option combinations.
    • No people-dependency for expert knowledge about allowable option combinations.
  • For product manufacturers:
    • Engineering is not involved in the creation of a bill of material to support individual order configurations.
    • Engineering defines “allowable” product configurations based on technical feasibility, not marketing or sales policy. This is important. You do not want to change the logic behind allowable or permissible configurations every time the marketing or sales philosophy changes. To do otherwise creates constant rework and churn.
    • Engineering designs the product with product modularity in mind.

The attributes above demonstrate why offering configurable products and services must be approached as an enterprise-wide business strategy, not merely a departmental hurdle.  Efficiencies must flow across the entire enterprise. The mission is providing unique products and services tailored to the customer’s needs with the same or greater efficiency than is presently realizable.

The modularization of the offerings must not occur in a silo separate from the rest of the organization or the impact will be sacrificing speed and efficiencies to meet each customer’s requirements.  And, the inefficiencies, of course, undermine profits.

Customers at the high-end of the marketplace want products that are highly-personalized, unique and offer superior value. For example, there is a product configurator for the Bentley GTC Speed, a very high-end automobile is an excellent example of how a company has approached giving customers a lot of choice in how they want their $250,000 automobile configured.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2010 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved