How organizations can get caught napping …

If you the product manager is thinking:

1) We are the market leaders and the well known brand and we set the tone in this market or

2) I fully understand the market segment that will be interested in buying this product or

3) We have the marketing muscle to push new products out  or

4) We have the best feature set in the industry

then you must read the latest Wired Magazine’s article on how cheap little laptops hit the big time NOW – not tomorrow, not later, but NOW. And then recalibrate your thinking.

Here are my key takeaways:

1) Customers (especially the vociferous ones) could ask for more, but a vast majority of them actually want less.

2) Your product can open up new markets and market segments that you did not even dream off. Be ready to be suprised. No focus group or research is going to reveal this because you tend to do these with the potential market segment you have in mind. Do you think the netbook folks would have interviewed middle class consumers about their laptop needs?

3) Beware of the Davids, not the Goliaths. You will not see their attacks coming. It is easy to pooh pooh them.

4) Beware of the ecosystem changes happening in your industry – it is not usually one thing that upends an industry, it is the combination of things that create the perfect storm.

2 thoughts on “How organizations can get caught napping …”

  1. Ah, the arrogance of being a Product Manger who thinks that he/she knows it all! I’m always amazed at just how little we really know about what our customers want.

    I’m a big fan of what I call “soft focus” for product launches – go after market segments that you know need your product, but don’t forget the other segments because they just might surprise you with needs that you didn’t know about.

    – Dr. Jim Anderson
    The Accidental PM Blog
    “Home Of The Billion Dollar Product Manager”

  2. I’m surprised it took them until page 3 to mention The Innovator’s Dilemma. “Netbooks are a classic Christensenian disruptive innovation for the PC industry.” His research explains this phenomenon in depth. I highly recommend it.

    As Christensen points out, most companies are absolutely aware of disruptive technologies, but choose not to pursue them until it is too late. This is typically because they are trained to seek higher performance and margins, not lower. It is not what their current customers are asking for and they are tuned to satisfying their current customers’ needs.

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