Monday, July 30, 2007

The Changing Product Landscape

It is no surprise that we are in the middle of a significant change in the way software and content are priced, developed, and distributed.
  • Google apps, Zoho, Hotmail, and others have set an expectation about the complexity of "free" software.
  • Salesforce.com, Omniture, and others are setting expectations about how complex software served as a service can be.
  • Yahoo!, Project Opus, Blogger, and many more just being conceived are setting expectations about how applications and, more importantly, their data ought to be interacted with.
For product managers of traditional software products, this is scary stuff. People want to be able to interact with their applications wherever they go and expect to be able to interact with the data in many ways, perhaps not even "in" the original application. And expectations are being set that this ought to be free or a standard piece of the software.

For new products, this cannot be overlooked. Product managers need to embrace this and understand how it affects pricing, features, etc. Software architects need to know the technologies. Developers need to be designing for it.

New products that don't have an appropriate answer to these concepts will fail. Note that an appropriate answer might be to not have those features. But if you don't think about it before your customer does and explain why you don't, your customers will just think it is an oversight.

SaaS, Web2.0, and Mashups are changing things in a huge way. Are you innovating or are you looking in your rearview mirror?

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