Here is a common story we see across many enterprise clients. ACME Corp. (let’s use a made-up name) has a great software product. Novel and one-of-a-kind when it was released ten years ago.
There is still a big customer base using it and upgrading to incremental new versions; institutions and businesses are paying a big license fee, continuing contracted payments, yet they are starting to question whether or not the product is still the right choice for them.
A product that no longer turns heads
ACME Corp. is also starting to notice that they’re not the sexiest or most sought-after vendor at industry events. Startups are now the ones garnering all the attention. “Pfft, what do those rookies know about fintech?”, they ask themselves. (And “fintech” could easily be replaced with “automotive & mobility”, “industry & manufacturing”, “telecom”, “healthcare”, etc.)
Elsewhere in the company, the commercial team is concerned about what they’re hearing from buyers: They might not extend the contract into the next cycle. The backlog of improvements for the product has been growing unaddressed for too long. End-user complaints are piling up at the purchasing level. The training required for the software is too extensive. Leadership has been pushing to review and modernize the software they use ASAP. The compelling, flexible pricing offered by “the rookies” is simply too good to ignore.
Losing touch with market needs
The hands-on product team knows these concerns all too well. In fact, they can add to the list. They see what the market needs, but are unable to deliver. Their hands are tied, limited by one or more of these common challenges:
- They lack the expertise to raise the bar for user experience
- They lack the headcount needed to make the big change happen
- They lack the experience with cutting-edge tech, or the management trust & buy in to modernize.
What they do have is an unmatched wealth of industry knowledge, an almost personal connection with loyal end-customers who have trusted them over the years and a long list of improvements they themselves had tried to implement during the time the product was on top and management couldn’t see the need to improve “what wasn’t broken”. Now it’s just a question of keeping the ship afloat.
Make your product relevant … again
What’s the solution? Is ACME doomed to fail? Not if they grab the opportunity to modernize and change without delay. We’ve seen this scenario play out again and again, and the companies that have succeeded in righting the ship have taken the following steps:
- Be open to bringing in outside help (that’s where we usually come in)
- Cut through the organizational hierarchy to get your voice heard
- Reach out to end-customers to hear first-hand what improvements should be top priority
- Use agile methodology to make fast progress (prototypes, future product demos, MVPs, frequent releases),
- Keep your customers and management updated on the progress, excited about the end result and thrive on change.
By following this approach, you arrive at a new product that combines decades of knowledge and cutting-edge tech, is aligned with modern processes and represents the voice of your customer.