Kathy Sierra over at Creating Passionate Users has a great post on why you cannot count on customers/users to innovate for you.
Quoting from her post, she says:
In this Web 2.0-ish world we’re supposed to be all about the users being in control. Where the “community” drives the product. But the user community can’t create art. (And I use “art” with a lowercase “a” as in software, books, just about anything we might design and craft.) That’s up to us…
Our users will tell us where the pain is. Our users will drive incremental improvements. But the user community can’t do the revolutionary innovation for us. That’s up to us.
Of course you need to listen to your customers, and of course the customer is in control of many things that used to be controlled by the companies marketing their products and services – i.e., information about the product or service that levels/changes the balance of power in buying situations.
But that does not mean that your customers are in control of designing your next breakthrough innovation! It will never happen…and those companies that try to “outsource” their product innovation to their customers will inevitably condemn themselves to a slow dead by innovation monotony and product insipidness.
In an interview with Peter Drucker many years ago in Context Magazine – Drucker adds a few reasons why you cannot or should not outsource your product innovation to your customers:
- 99.9% of your customers couldn’t care less about your product or service.
- 70% of the people or organizations that should be your customers are not yet (and therefore by letting the existing customers dictate what your next generation product should be – you might very well never be able to meet the needs of those 70% who will make up your needed growth)
- customers never buy what we sell