Thursday, August 31, 2006

Best practices - Is it the best practice?

Best Practices - Is this the best practice?

This is a rhetorical question in my mind.

I am a consultant and whenever we get to do some work for the client or even when we pitch for new business, we end up doing competition landscaping and highlight either their pit falls or come up with best practices.

I don't think it is the right approach. Especially if you are in the business of providing the solutions for customer experience.Let me try and back this statement using some logics which I think will be deemed fit. Ofcourse these logics are not as a result of any best practices exercise.

The justification are as follows:
  • The inferences and recommendations as best practices pre-supposes the fact the customers have accepted that idea/initiative in a over whelming manner.God knows what they think.
  • The subset of the earlier point is also the fact that the best practice is the interpretation of the expert and not the customer. Ultimately, it is pretty obvious that your opinion is not the same as that of the universe. So what if you are an expert? It still doesnt make sense
  • I come from the school of thought that only original ideas sell. The "me too's" do not survive. Forget my belief. Lets take it objectively:best practice always leads to incremental progress. It is never radical coz you are just packaging what somebody has tried. Customers do know about it. I know some people will be ready to pounce on me to say that few companies have been successful ( I do not want to take names). But as you rightly said, its few and will only be few. They probably got their chemistry right in the other aspects of business.
  • The key aspect about customer experience is innovation. Innovation clearly would mean that it its your idea and not a copy of somebody's idea.Customer would remember for your originality and not when you get somebody's idea and make a statement " I have that as well with me".
  • Forgot all the other aspects.... Best practices approach is a clear shot cut and an excuse for not meeting your customers and trying to understand their experience. Best practices is the dampner for the concept called "out of box" thinking. It would probably mean out of business. No short cust please. Please make a sincere effort to understand your customer.

Google's and Ipods were born coz somebody soiled their hands to find out what customers want? What kind of experience is desirable? No best practices would lead to break through innovation.

So my suggestion is drop the practice of best practice. Get to know your customers better instead of learning from your competitors. The devil is in the details. May be ethnography will help. That'ss my next topic and I had to make a mention of it.. Fits in well I guess.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


The main reason why I wanted to write is based on a moment of truth. I am in Jersey on a short term visit and I spend about 4 hours on a daily basis to travel from edison till jersey city. I am not a typical American. People get on to the train with a newspaper or iPod or with something to eat. So everybody is busy doing something.With the rest, stil worse, a good sleep early in the morning. Sounds a perfect oxymoron.

I fit into the category of wondering what to do or wondering what people are doing. The first few days its truly amazing to see things they way it happens. Obviously, coz this is my first visit to US of A.After that its BAU ( Business As Usual).

Now as I was figuring out what to do, I realize what can I do with my mobile.Can an access internet with my mobile? For tech buzz my statement sounds as though am from stone age. Hey buddies, I agree. I can hear ( rather am assuming) you guys telling me that technology has advanced and am really stupid about taking up a topic like this.No people do m-commerce, transactions etc (couple of jargons). But hold on for a moment. This thought made me " Google" for some research artiicle on internet content on mobile. I felt happy that am not left out coz only 15% of the wireless subscribers end up using mobile phones for internet access. Great.

That brings me to the next question.Is there a latent potential or is this also going to pass as a fad? No reserach but gut says that its going stay and stay for long. The only possible rational explanation that I could think of right now... Its fast paced life and it will continue to be so. .. So multi tasking is the way to go...

So coming to the point.. Actually I was trying to build a business case through my experience. So this trend is there to stay what are the challenges faced by the front runners like Yahoo, Google who are offering mobile content...hoping to create an experience that puts the devices on a level playing field with the personal computer

  • Small screens. How do we provide content to ensure excellent customer experience
  • Band width: Obviously mobile operates on diffrent bandwidths so downloads will be at differnt speeds. Just to make a mention ...there are 2 terms that I want to make a mention, perceived download time and actual download time. I will try and write about this in my next blog.
  • Key pad: Obviously the input device..
  • Above all consumer expectations on the content from the devices are very different.This the most imporatnt variable. If not handled correctly could turn out be a dynamite. I am a marketing guy hence customer needs comes first. (Actually, all of us are thought to say nice statements like these. I am no expection.)

Right now the 15% of the users seem to flock to sites such as email, search, information and ofcourse the latest from the Yahoo and Google... the maps.

Let me try and take each aspect and try to drill down and even further to find out why the rest of the 85% is still not embracing the this technology marvel.

Incase you have any inputs...pls share it with me.