Do you want to get a read on the OSS market?

Most of you would have noticed a significant structural shift in the last few years towards customer advocacy and listening to the customer far more closely, not just in OSS but across most industries. This introduces some interesting contrasts though.

In any given year most OSS engineers, despite being genba staff, don’t get the opportunity to get close to many customers and hence aren’t able to hear a wide cross-section of thoughts.

The installation teams get to know their customers intimately through being on the customer site, seeing their wants and needs up close. However, the length of time required to commission an OSS means that they don’t get to meet many customers in any given year. Similarly, OSS product development teams don’t tend to get out with customers much at all (I do know some rare exceptions to this rule who interestingly are also quite exceptional!).

By contrast, sales teams (should) have significantly broader customer contact. An important point to note here is that their contact is not just with current customers but across the wider OSS landscape, which includes potential customers as well. This gives them a perspective of macro market trends. They also have the license to prod and probe, to test market and product hypotheses, all the while listening intently to the market.

I help customers on both sides – with implementations as well as designing sales and marketing strategies. In addition, the daily blog here on PAOSS forces me to keep the antenna up for market trends. But I value the time spent with OSS sales people highly due to the different perspectives and market insights I invariably walk away with.

Do your sellers and implementers spend much time bouncing ideas off each other? Off customers? Off potential customers?

If you’re structuring your company, products and decisions around customers, do you look to internal relationships as well as external (customer) ones?

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