Parallels Between the Modern Mass Market Camera and Enterprise IT Software are Worth Considering for ISVs

For those readers who are unfamiliar with the modern camera business we need to point out that the camera, itself, represents the durable component of the product model. We should note that there are many segments to the market for cameras. Two of these segments are of particular interest to us for this discussion of razorblade product design and its importance for enterprise IT ISvs, regardless of whether the requirement is maintaining current products, or conceptualizing new ones: the segments made up of professional photographers and the segment made up of consumers. With regard to the professional market for modern cameras, we think that up to the very recent present, the non durable component of this hybrid product, specifically, the method of recording photos in a reusable format suitable for storage, reproduction, etc. amounted to rolls of film, In fact, one can argue that rolls of film are still very much in demand by professional photographers, despite a shift to digital recording.

For the consumer market it is a dramatically different story. There is little to no further significant interest, now in 2012m, from the consumer market in film. Almost all of the interest is now in digital methods of recording and re-using photos. One can only conclude that a radical shift in market interest in the non durable component of modern camera product has occurred. The extent of this shift was so wide that the entire business model for Kodak suffered a terminable blow as a complex result of it.

Before we take a bit of a deeper dive into the components of this shift in consumer interest, it is worth taking a moment to look at an important parallel between enterprise IT product design and modern photography marketing — specifically, with regards to target markets. For modern camera marketing the film buff (or hobbyist) made up an important market segment, much like Gartner’s “Citizen Developer” (http://www NULL.gartner NULL.jsp?id=1744514). One competitor in this market, Kodak, brought to market not only a line of cameras (admittedly not as extensive as its competitors, nor targeted, particularly, to the professional market segment), but a wide range of film.

Many items in this range of different types of film (for example, color film designed for shooting photos in low light) were not only designed for the professional segment of the market, but also for the hobbyists in the consumer segment. Kodak, in fact, was enormously successful not only selling its film for its own cameras, but also for cameras manufactured by its competitors.

We think that today’s enterprise IT ISVs that market no code programming systems (so-called “workflow” tools), are in a similar position to a business like Kodak. In fact, there products are targeted to Citizen Developers as well as enterprise IT organizations. In the next post to this blog we will look at where a parallel experience may take these ISVs if they do not take the steps required to protect their market position.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

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