Can your software business quickly pivot as required to address market needs? If your answer is “no”, your management team needs to take the steps required to permit a “yes” answer to this question. Assume two points: 1) the market won’t exhibit much patience should your business not adapt to its changing needs and 2) your competitors will step into any vacant space left in the wake of your departure.
In his book The Lean Startup, Eric Ries uses three words to present a three step process businesses of any stage should master: “build, measure, learn”. Once a business adopts this process it becomes possible to build many possible solutions to both implied and explicit market needs. In order to progress towards the kind of attractive solution customers will pay for, a method of measuring response to any of these solutions is required. Once a solution has been measured a conclusion can be reached on the topic of whether to proceed further with it, or not.
The pandemic of 2020 presents software businesses with a promising opportunity to jump on Ries’ process. The topic of the day is “work from home”. The challenge for businesses and organizations from any industry vertical is whether or not they can change how they operate with personnel working from their homes, or not.
In an article titled “This might just be the end of the office as we know it” Kathryn Vasel of CNN Business builds a story on the ideas of Professor Peter Cappelli, Management Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. For my purposes in this post, Professor Cappelli depicts the rigidity characteristic of an inability to pivot:
“”We can’t have the same kind of collaboration on the internet that we have face-to-face. We can’t have the same sales call that we have face-to-face,“”
Professor Cappelli is correct. Businesses operating during the pandemic on a work from home model have to pivot to a new kind of collaboration. Software companies selling to them will also need a different kind of sales call to win their business. Will these businesses make the changes required? Vasel presents Professor Cappelli’s ideas as buttresses to an argument they will not. Despite the substantially higher costs of renovating physical offices into safe work spaces, they will push to return to daily travel to some brick and mortar location.
But software companies capable of practicing Ries’ three step process have an opportunity to engage with these businesses to find a way to make work from home not only palatable, but profitable-much more profitable than was the case pre-pandemic with everyone traveling daily to a physical office. Will your software company rise to the challenge, or is it too difficult for your team to collectively “think outside the box”.
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