While this may be easier to relate to for those who work in large enterprises, regardless of what size and level a business operates at, if you are a product company, product development is core to your being and the better you can make your product development process, the more success you’ll find around the corner. The challenge facing most product companies is how to step up the development cycle and get products to market quicker while being able to innovate and give customers exactly what they are looking for. It’s not that businesses are not listening to their customers while developing products, but often by the time they are ready and rolled out, customers are already looking for something better or competitors have swiped market share while the product was still in the works. What’s needed is:
The problem with the last requirement is that the more people you involve in the process, the more inefficiencies you’re likely to invite. Inefficiencies of time, place, and communication. At the same time, if you can’t include more customers within the process, you’re gambling on the fact that the opinion of a small focus group or fewer people will reflect the way all customers will react to your final product.
This is where social business software has been able to provide solutions for product companies. By implementing a social networking based collaboration platform, a business can have a base to build a more inclusive product development process that is scalable. Employees, partners, product experts, and selected customers can be granted access to an online social collaborative environment where they can freely interact, share ideas, and jointly work towards developing new products.
Companies that have built their product development platforms on social software have seen significant improvements in their process and ability to get products to market sooner — giving a significant edge over their competitors. Here are just some of the advantages that companies have observed since they’ve adopted social software environments for their product development efforts:
While each business will need to build on a social networking platform and customize the environment to work cohesively with their specific product development strategies and processes, the advantages of having a powerful collaboration platform to drive better products out more efficiently are clear. With the ability to include customers within the deepest levels of the product development cycle and still speed up their development cycles, we are bound to see businesses truly working with their customers.
Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.
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