You don’t have to be employed in the IT industry to find today’s changes in the software industry interesting. As the world shifts towards web-based applications, the discovery, adoption, and marketing of software products is now being approached as a grassroots phenomenon.
Traditionally software vendors have relied on sales teams to aggressively prospect for customers, and marketing / PR teams to make the product visible and generate leads for sales. Sales teams have attacked with brute force and marketing has always sought the top-down, broad reach of traditional media. For customers, evaluation of new products has been potentially messy and often requires a serious time and financial commitment.
But with web-based applications and services a new norm is emerging. As Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie says in a recent email to Microsoft staff,”Products are now discovered through a combination of blogs, search keyword-based advertising, online product marketing and word-of-mouth.” Web-based products and services are securing beachheads in organizations as small teams take it upon themselves to discover and evaluate new solutions to their problems. Customers aren’t waiting for a sales call or a trade magazine to publish already stale news which pales in comparison to the plugged-in conversation coming from blogs. With web-based solutions customers can expect to evaluate without a big commitement and eventual implementation requires substantially less change to their business infrastructure.
So, for small business what does this mean? Web-native solutions for work and life can now very easily be discovered, trialed, and either adopted or discarded with a minimum of effort and initiative. This type of customer experience is a positive one and may dictate how the customer experience should be for other business sectors as well. As the web weaves itself ever more into the fabric of peoples’ lives, customer expectations will simultaneously evolve, and the prudent business will take action to insure that these new expectations are met (before it’s too late).