Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

Open your doors in the cloudThese days everyone states they have an API, and when you’re evaluating a new application that you need to integrate, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking “OK, they’ve got an API so it must be do-able”. Generally I tend to steer clear of applications that don’t have publicly available API and user documentation as you end up with a bias view of applications.

All too often software businesses get a little protective over information surrounding their “baby”, for fear of the competition stealing ideas or other unscrupulous acts. Well here’s the thing, all the time your competition are looking at what your product can do they’re not innovating, they’re just playing catch up – good news for you!

Without exception all successful software companies, great & small, run a common philosophy – let people in (to document libraries) and innovation through collaboration is accelarated far faster than you can push it alone. So what’s the strategy I’m extolling here?

Open up all of your product literature to the world online. Run an online user guide, a wiki, forums, detailed API documentation. Sure require users to register, but don’t insist on some draconian screening process, just a simple registration process that allows you to collect a little user info and manage access. Now you’ve got the foundation for a collaborative user community, and one of the key benefits you’ve just created is dropping hurdles for your sales team. Your prospective customers will want to do some research on your application, so let them.

Next you need to start engaging with this community. Start by creating blogs aimed at the different audiences (e.g. Business Users & Developers). Don’t make the mistake of making a blog the responsibility of one author, it will become stale very quickly, get a range of people from across your organisation contributing. Publicise all of these resources through your own website and out on the web. As your community grows encourage customers, partners, and others who interact with your software to blog about it.

The high level lesson you’re learning here is, you can’t do it all on your own, you will need help, and there’s no better help that the people who want to interact with your software on what ever level. And it’s a lot faster and cheaper way to benefit than using external ‘consultants’.

Open the doors to documentation and watch your ability to innovate accelerate,  your customers start helping each other, your credibility rise, your adoption rates increase, and your competition constantly play catch up. If you believe in what you do let everyone know.


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