“Remember, you’re trying to control a market, not out-feature another product”
Bob Rice in Three Moves Ahead
Bob Rice’s quote above is really relevant in the OSS marketplace. Vendors appear to compete on the number of features. This is an admirable approach, but is it the equivalent of a car-maker putting a 43rd cup-holder in their new off-road vehicle? There is a diminishing real value of each extra cup-holder but customers appear to perceive additional value in the number of cup-holders.
The same can be said about OSS. They often have no way of evaluating the available tools other than to read the specs sheet (5.8L V8, 4WD, etc to use the analogy) and be shown the gadgets, bells and whistles. Evaluation of the real performance requires a specific skill-set and a different perspective. Some CSPs or their advisors are able to read past the list of features and look at the features that will add real value to their organisation. Generally this involves identification of the few things that the tool/s must do well to add value to the CSP and then compare these between the available tools.
Vendors have also spent countless hours building extremely adaptable feature configuration so that they can satisfy every one of the scarce pool of customers who happen to be looking for an OSS. Again this is an admirable approach. The problem with the highly configurable solutions is they require vast amounts of configuration effort by highly skilled resources just to get a customer started. In many cases, the customers aren’t ready to provide the level of data or assistance required to start, nor do they have the lee-way to endure lengthy commissioning times. Momentum is essential for implementing an OctopOSS (view Step 6 on the Change Management page).
This is a valuable feature to help demonstrate to a customer that doesn’t really know what it wants yet.
I wonder whether the better approach for CSP and vendor is for both to really drive the 80/20 rule and identify the 20% of features that drive 80% of value and do them exceedingly efficiently? Fast to implement, fast to use.