A couple of years ago I had the great pleasure of helping an interesting startup in the data management and analytics space get off the ground.
Part of that was to help them pitch to early angel investors in order to get the first funding. And one of the international investors we talked to had a point that stayed with me:
“To me this just looks like data porn”.
What he meant was: A lot of numbers and statistics but very little real actionable insights that made sense to him. And which he thus doubted would ever make sense to future customers.
His point came back to haunt me when I read a statistic claiming that 80% or so of SMEs really don’t know how to capitalize on their data, while reading another place that 90% of the companies providing the data management and analytics tools at the same time think they are delivering a killer user experience that just unlocks value at the click of a button.
There is something that is disconnected here. And I have a hunch what it might be:
The ability for SMEs to identify the outcomes they’re looking for – put them into words – coupled with an inability of the providers to think in terms of outcomes rather than inputs and analytics, when they design products.
It’s like one party is from Mars, the other is from Venus. And somehow they just can’t find each other.
In all fairness, I don’t think this is only true with data management and analytics. I think it’s a more generic point across B2B products and services; that startups and vendors are so focused on developing great products based on their own merits rather than developing great products that helps future customers get to the outcomes they are looking for in the easiest and most painless way possible.
So what could a remedy for all this be?
Communication. Built-in communication. A built-in communication and story telling strategy so to say that informs how the products are structured, the user experience defined and the value being delivered to the customer in such a way that they will not for a second doubt they have chosen the right product to help them get the outcome they have set for themselves.
A lot of things are happening in parallel in product development today, and many of them are good. But I think they lack the glue of the overarching story; the keeping track of the ‘Why?’ of it all when it comes to delivering value and outcomes including all the bigger and smaller sanity checks, you should include along the way.
Great communication could be that glue.
Great communication could tie prioritization of the roadmap with the user experience, the optimized flows and how you present the product and it’s core features to products. Great communication should be the rocket fuel of the growth story as well and dictate how the product is communicated, being sold and serviced afterwards.
Because communication is not only about PR, press releases and coming up with the creatives for the next campaign. Communication should be a key component of both product, sales and company strategy.
So people like the business angel from above and the customers, he was thinking of, instinctively ‘get it’ because the story points directly towards achieving a highly valuable and desired outcome.