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Friday, 22 January 2010

“Obvious Mashups?”

I have been reading Jack Trout's "In Search of the Obvious, the antidote for today's marketing mess". Trout's view is that to succeed in differentiating your offering, you need to look for 'obvious solutions' that will set your products apart from your competitors in a way that is equally obvious to your customers. To help in 'identifying the obvious (sic)', he devised 5 tests, the tests of Obviousness of your marketing strategy or new product concept:
1. The problem when solved will be simple - the obvious is nearly always simple, so simple that generations of people looked at it without seeing it
2. Is the time ripe?
3. Does it check with human nature? i.e. would everyone understand it, without requiring any specialized knowledge?
4. Does it explode in people's mind? i.e. "why didn't I think of that?"
5. Put it on paper - does it still make sense when put on paper?

Trout's focus is mainly on consumer products for both differentiation within a category and for new product development. I thought it would be interesting to check enterprise mashups against the principles highlighted by Trout (ignoring the last one!):

1. Enterprise mashups turn integration on its head. They take the often abused but appealing “lego brick” analogy of SOA at face value and make it work. Pieces of IT are really laid out like bricks – simple, visual and tangible - and are then simply combined to create useful new solutions. And it turns out that a lot of very valuable integration can be done by using these building blocks in a straightforward fashion, without the usual paraphernalia and complexity of integration. Simple – it just took the courage to do it the obvious way (and to figure out what the right sort of lego bricks are)!

2. Is the time ripe?
Is integrating applications to make people more efficient a major issue? One only needs to look at the mess on most contact centre desktops (and the associated inefficiencies and costs) to agree. Do customers need a way to achieve this without major investment? Of course, especially in today’s economic climate. Do companies need to combine internal legacy applications with new generations of web-based services? Definitely, whether it’s to capitalize on social web trends or to benefit from cloud computing.

3. Does it check with human nature?
People understand the problems, associate with them, and see the value - everyone has experienced the issue of working with multiple applications to complete a task. Everyone has been on the receiving end of the same issue when dealing with contact centres. We intuitively understand the idea of combining the different and relevant bits of applications – a bit like creating a collage of the desktop - to make a job easier.

4. Does it explode in people's mind? When you show people what mashups do, the light switches on. The issue is almost the opposite: if this is so obvious, why has this not been done before? Together with the history of failure in integrating effectively applications for people, customers initially tend to think this is too obvious and too easy - there must be a catch.

I think Enterprise Mashups pass the tests. Obviously I would, being at Corizon. Let me know whether you agree.


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