Here’s a question for you – should we ask our customers what they want? I truly welcome your feedback.
Why am I asking this question? Well, simply put, it’s this conundrum which is stopping many companies from all sectors from adopting IOT technologies.
Senior business decision makers and IT managers across the industry aren’t sure whether to start with the pain point of their customers and build technology to address it, or build the technology first and take a ‘the customers will come approach’. The later is very much in the same school of thought of Steve Jobs, who once commented:
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
Some would argue for the Jobs approach and others believe that you have to find the pain point first. My point, in true stuck-on-the-fence style, was that businesses start with multiple pain points and then seek to address them in some way.
If you ask customers what they want, you’ll get the same response – a faster horse. They can’t see anything innovative beyond that.
There’s dangers to both approaches of course – if you ask customers what they want, you could well end up building that faster horse, whilst the ‘build it and they will come approach’ is reliant on people engaging with your solution – of which there is no guarantee.
If you’re trying to get a project approved at board level, build up influencers who like your idea from inside the company before pitching the board, and back-up your idea with clear business benefits. Focusing on the tech is one sure-fire way of losing the board’s interest.
What does all of this mean? As far as IoT is concerned, you need to understand what you are trying to achieve and not overestimate IoT’s capacity as retailers are finding out, because culture – arguably more so than technology – is arguably going to be your biggest hurdle, especially with many industries fighting a battle to keep the lights on whilst innovating.