The Ground -Up Product Penetration & Disruption Model

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Do you work in an Enterprise that organizes itself though a command & control hierarchy, makes decisions behind closed doors, and basically prevents you from collaborating with your team – and worse, your customers? If this sounds like you, there is hope that one day your Enterprise will find itself with a Universe of pre-connected employees, partners, vendors and customers. Will they simply ignore the opportunity to leverage these connections, or will they continue doing the things that got them there as though the customer & business landscape never changes? No, I’m not talking about Facebook, so don’t get all excited!

There are a growing number of new platforms soon to come online that will potentially disrupt the traditional top-down approach to the Enterprise solution proposition. If you’re working somewhere like many places I’ve worked, then the only collaboration that takes place with regard to which software applications are selected is one way – use it! IT organizations have a lot invested in this model because it gives them control. However, with no definitive roles, in most organizations, to bridge the business-technology gap it’s generally naïve to assume that IT has your best interests in mind as business users. Sure, they have their Yammer network, but that’s because they’re just experimenting. Yea.

If You Boil A Frog Slowly

While the frog thing is bogus, this whole collaboration thing is beginning to take root and the Enterprise just may not notice (but let’s hope they do). It started a long time ago with my generation, although mostly the ones involved in the tech world to some degree, but it’s quickly accelerating as the planet is being overtaken by the social network phenomenon. People are glued to the Facebook walls, and other outlets of pseudo-engagement like Twitter. Mostly, these activity based platforms are distractions from what we are really trying to do each day, but it’s caught on and given some clever innovators some ideas that I feel have a great deal of promise. And I’m also excited about them

Attacking the Enterprise from Below

How much time and effort does it take to stalk an Enterprise, decapitate your competitors and gain acceptance from end users? How much does it cost and what percentage of the deals are you closing? Let’s face it, it’s a high-stakes game and you need a boat load of capital and/or critical mass to compete. A compelling story helps too. But, what if you were simply marketing to one end user at a time, and doing it primarily through social media, and more importantly, word of mouth. That wouldn’t cost very much, would it?

I know, I’m so naïve. That would never work and you know that because…it’s never been done before? OK, how about if every user you were able to install on your cloud-based platform was able to connect with their co-workers to share tasks, or maybe even whole projects? Not every project or task, but just the ones you needed them for. And what if your co-workers thought that was so cool, that they invited a few of their colleagues in?

What if someone were so bold to then invite a customer into a set of work items, and thereby infect another Enterprise altogether? And what if that customer invited one of it’s other vendors in? Anyone who grew up in the 70’s probably has a picture of that Breck/Faberge shampoo commercial in your head at this point. What we have is a loosely connected group of people from a variety of organizations which will continue to grow organically and probably exponentially. Of course, that’s if the platform is any good, and provides a framework for doing the things most of us need to do each day – whether personal or business.

Would there be a point where a smart Enterprise recognized that all of it’s employees, and maybe it’s customers, were using this platform to work collaboratively on personal and business projects? Would they then look for ways to bring those folks into their collaborative Enterprise so they could better understand what was going on? Adoption is not an issue, so why not, as long as the platform has thought about this eventuality in advance and provided the appropriate path?

There are a few products I’ve heard about over the past few months that are, at a minimum, marketing to the bottom and hoping to work their way across and up. Asana, the super secret platform recently unveiled. This could be a platform for project management, or anything that requires you to manage anything, big or small. Podio, another platform that allows users to connect pieces of what they do with other users. It’s easy to connect, it costs nothing in many, many scenarios, and it has a chance of gaining a foothold because it lets regular people craft their own solutions very easily. The framework remains unchanged, so it’s still easy to share pieces with colleagues, customer or friends. Lastly, another product that is taking this approach, albeit from a contact management perspective, is VIPOrbit, which gives individuals the ability to share orbits with others. Imagine everyone in an enterprise eventually using this for their personal needs. It’s adopted, now you just have to figure out how to build a corporate Universe for it (pun intended).

Time will tell whether this is a viable disruption to traditional distribution methods for software, and whether my limited description of it will serve it well over time. I’m sure it won’t, because things change and this is a change that I predict will come to a collaborator near you.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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