Focusing Too Much on the Future

By Christian Buckley posted 10-24-2012 08:59


When my company is nearing a new product release, there's this funny little dance between product management and the sales organization that is fairly common within product and service companies. When the product team needs to share some forward-thinking information on an upcoming release, they go to great length to bridle the level of anticipation, wary of giving out too much information before the product is ready to go to market. Why? Because the (very healthy) habit of sales is to quickly incorporate what they understand about the future roadmap into their sales pitch. Customers want to understand the roadmap -- they want the latest, greatest version. And if you've never worked in or alongside sales, you understand that if you start talking future-state to customers, they want to buy that future state -- and not the products or services available today. Understanding all of that, its no wonder my product team is very careful about the timing of our releases, and both internal and external communications.


There is a life lesson here about how we look at our collaboration platforms. How much do we seek after the future state rather than learn to manage what is available to us today? This is certainly the case with social tools. Enterprise platforms like SharePoint are often criticized for what they lack, and rarely recognized for what they do provide. One of the most-recognized sayings is "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence," and that's exactly what happens with technology. Minutes after a purchase, they're looking over the fence at what someone else has purchases, what another team or organization has built, questioning the purchase they just made.


Information workers are technology consumers, and as technology advances and the rising generation enters the workforce, an increasing percentage of us are information workers. It's a rapidly expanding category. I often write about the changing social informatics of the workforce -- how technology is driving change around not only the tools we use, but how we consume and share information. Even non-technical roles are slowly adopting technology to help streamline, optimize, and capture data around their work activities. This pervasiveness of technology in our lives only further increases our desire for having the latest, greatest tools and technologies -- whether or not they provide quantifiable value to the work we do.


We are a consumer society. We are fascinated by the new. We're often dazzled by fashion over substance -- form over function.


Be careful not to wander away from the business requirements. Don't get caught up in the flashy marketing presentations around every new product or service. Go back to your core requirement. Know what your business needs. While existing systems may not be new and sexy, they can often provide you with exactly what you need. 

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