Tony's blog this morning was about software product development and how the product (or techie guy) and the business (or marketing guy) play a role in that process. His article is an excellent analysis of how things generally work and that while both are critical to the product development process, their roles take shape and form and different phases of the product development process. Both are imperative to the process so long as the end-goal and clear consensus on the product being delivered is identical.
Here's where my mind spun off... I kept coming back to the question 'what is the perfect balance in software product development between the techie guy and the business guy?' And here is what I came up with...
The best combination of the product/techie guy and the business guy is when both have a clear understand of the end product and precisely who the product is designed for - and equally who it is NOT designed for. Building software for a particular market segment is one thing - selling to that very market segment and setting guidelines on who your customers should be is another. Both parties should never waiver from the marketing or development goals because they are both in 100% agreement on what the product is and who it can best serve. THAT is a pretty powerful combination.
I would add - if you develop software that is suited only to small business - then you should NOT sell to big business (even with a bigger price tag). Your specialty product will not meet their needs, and you will be unable to support it because it was not designed for big business. I have survived many rounds of layoffs and have seen companies close their doors for that very reason. Too many eggs in the "big business" basket (a basket you have no business being in)! Once those large eggs are removed there aren't enough of the smaller eggs where you should have been focusing all along.
The right business model is a clearly defined product with a definitive purpose and a very specific target audience. Finding and selling to that audience is both challenging and VERY rewarding when you see it at work.
Here's where the passion part comes in (and yes I would be remiss if I did not tie this in somehow). A software guy, generally speaking, is totally and completely passionate about building the next greatest release on the market for whatever industry he serves. How many developers do you truly know that think it's a hum-drum job - and how many developers do you know that truly get excited and passionate about "what they can build".
Add to that a business guy who is truly passionate about what the end user (the targeted customer) will experience through using that same software - knowing full well that to be truly successful we must learn to say no to some customers and focus solely on those who we KNOW will benefit from the product we are delivering.
The end result - you have a passionate techie guy and a passionate business or marketing guy with a common vision (maybe for different reasons and that's okay). If they stay on course and get that product developed and deliver it to exactly who it was intended for and it works as originally planned for said target that's pretty powerful stuff. And those targeted customer segments will refer to other companies in the same targeted customer segment and so on.
I have seen this model work and it continues to work very effectively. Moreover - those two techie and business guys are indeed both very passionate about their role in the process and that passion will drive the company further ahead and will continue to better serve those targeted customers. It is their combined passion that will allow their product to evolve naturally to meet the needs of its target.
I am forutnate enough to work for such a passionate business guy and I see the value of this model each and every day. It is a formula for success and continued growth.