Is technologically enabling business growth about internally selling a ‘solution’ or is it about helping people to go about their work in peace?
Akio Morita, the founder of Sony, put it simply: “No matter how hard you have worked to produce a product, and no matter how satisfied the engineers or management may be, if the customer doesn’t see for himself that the product has value, the whole exercise is for nothing.”
In the 20 years that I have covered the business of technology I’ve rarely come across catastrophic technology failure in enterprises. At the same time, I’ve seen that the single largest reason for technology projects to ‘fail’ has been end-user rejection.
Sony, especially when Morita was at the helm, is a good study in understanding customer-focus. He was totally clued in to what customers needed and wanted. Of course, he took risks and led with his instincts.
Over a 30-year period, between 1950 and 1982, the Japanese firm successfully built twelve innovative and different product lines ranging from pocket radios to portable TVs and VCRs to the Walkman and 3.5-inch floppy disk drives.
Surprisingly, Sony did not go in for market research to back these product launches (Morita apparently hated market research). The decision to launch all these products was made by Morita and a small group of associates, who looked for ways that miniaturized electronics could help people easily perform tasks that till then were difficult.
To this success recipe, that called for a lot of innovation apart from intuition they added a spot of creativity. Creativity in technology, in product planning and in marketing.
That is as true of a washing machine as it is of CRM or of even this magazine. If it doesn’t help you do your job better or more efficiently or with extra insight, the purpose is lost. It’s that simple.
So the next time you’re trying to hawk a ‘solution’ to a colleague, pause. End your sales pitch. And, ask them more about what their problems are.