Recently a software vendor asked us to review their product. While we do these types of projects from time to time, this was interesting because it was a business solution based on spatial, not a GIS developing a business application. Big difference.
So, we reviewed their software, their forward development path, the competition software, the needs of the target market, spoke to a number of users and so on.
We reported on the pro’s and con’s of the product and their competition, but the big undocumented surprise was that the software pre-loaded a bunch of business application forms based on the location of the rep in the field.
The developers considered this to be a trivial spatial issue (which it was) because the developers were technical people who did not recognise the importance of this feature from the customer’s perspective. And because their competition didn’t do this, it had the potential to be a major selling point.
This feature could provide HUGE time savings for customers as well as huge data integrity benefits and was therefore a major product differentiator from their competition. But they didn’t promote it because the developers were focused on their own technical issues, not the customer’s business issues.
Our report reflected on the pro’s and con’s of specific technical issues, but a key feature was our comments on their product positioning strategy.
The outcome of this product review highlighted the benefits of having an independent set of eyes review a product unencumbered by any bias and report that which needs to be said “warts and all”.
As the CEO of a major vendor said a while back “our customers tell us all good things with our software at user group meetings, but when they talk to you, they tell you all the problems that they are having. You find out things that our customers don’t tell us. We need to know these so that we can fix them.”
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