Work from home theme gets closer to the new normal.
Remote work is making news
According to Christopher Mims’ story “The Work-From-Home Shift Shocked Companies-Now They’re Learning Its Lessons“, published on Saturday, July 25, 2020 by the Wall Street Journal, online edition:
“The mass shift to remote office work presents opportunities for innovation and rethinking the nature of work the likes of which we haven’t seen in a generation.”
If Mims is right (and he provides statistics from Microsoft and from Gartner to support his claim), there is ample opportunity for early stage software companies to try to disrupt dominant players as the work from home theme gets closer to the new normal.
I think I am in. How do I disrupt the work from home market?
If readers aren’t familiar with Dr. Clayton Christensen’s work on the topic of business disruption, reading his classic “The Innovator’s Dilemma” is a good starting activity.
For readers already familiar with Dr. Christensen’s perspective on the history of disrupted markets, we would point to the importance of focusing on promising market segments for potential success. We use the abstractions “promising” and “potential” since, on the one hand, not all market segments represent “promising” opportunities for all software businesses and, on the other, there is no guarantee you will make money if you successful disrupt your chosen segment of this work from home market. Even if you do make money, you may not make it for long. Plan on a lot of competition. When you focus on narrow segments (you will need to do this to disrupt) you end up inviting competitors to copy your offer.
What are the risks I should think about?
Before they jump in, CEOs of early stage software companies need to apply lean startup tools to make sure it is a right decision. Why sink costly resources into building products for the work from home theme as it gets closer to the new normal only to lose money? Mims’ story includes a lot of tantalizing statistics, but you can end up with big numbers of people using your latest and greatest freemium offer and few, if any, paid conversions. End result? You’re bleeding cash supporting non paying users because you can’t exit the market for fear of reputation damage.
Success must, inevitably, proceed in parallel with further expansion as the work from home theme gets closer to the new normal. In true Darwinian fashion the businesses successfully transforming work from centralized activity from a physical office into personnel working from home will measure the success based on increases in revenue and profits. Most businesses will not succeed. In tandem, most software businesses trying to disrupt big dominant players (think prominent management consulting firms, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, IBM, Oracle) will not succeed either. So a cautious approach is required. Nevertheless as the work from home theme gets closer to the new normal the opportunity is becoming more compelling and worth a look.
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