Over at Back Porch Group, we’re running a little experiment to gather and share the “You gotta read this!” articles we pass around daily. What started as a way to keep from flooding each other’s inboxes has turned into a collection of inspiration and insight, covering music, tech, entrepreneurship and more.
If you’re a Flipboard user, give our magazine a look. I think you’ll enjoy it.
This week Microsoft released an Office companion app for iPhone. It’s free, which is good, but without a $99 subscription to Office 365, it’s a virtual paper weight. Not good.
By requiring a paid subscription up front, Microsoft missed a great opportunity to attract new users to their flagship Office product and to reintroduce it to those who long ago left them behind for Mac, Google Apps, iWork and a host of other alternatives.
Much of the popular tech press, meanwhile, is practicing the art of lowered expectations, lauding Microsoft for dipping its toe in water, and justifying an approach that protects Office revenues. They should expect more.
The enterprise customers Microsoft has served for so long and – generally speaking – so well are changing faster than Microsoft has kept up. Consumerization, BYOD, and the adoption of rafts of cloud-based software have all taken a bite out of Microsoft’s mainstream business. It’s time to try something different.
What could they do?
Good: Include a 30-day trial of Office 365 for everyone who downloads the iPhone app. Give them a great first experience, and win them over with an admirable, if incomplete, feature set on iPhone.
Better: Provide a limited, but functional set of features on iPhone and web that is good enough to compete with Google Docs and is free. Indefinitely. Then provide a path to pay for those who want more functionality.
PC + Windows + Office = Success is an equation that won’t hold true for much longer, and Microsoft knows it. When the well is running dry, you don’t just keep lowering the bucket. You dig a new well.
It’s time for Microsoft to dig.
Updated on June 17: The last fifty plus reviews on the App Store heavily underscore these points.
Image by Matt Harris under Creative Commons license
I decided recently to polish up my coding skills and get serious about learning Ruby. After several online tutorials, I was ready to dig in deeper and buy a book. I researched, read reviews and chose Programming Ruby from The Pragmatic Programmers, not just for the positive reviews, but for their innovative view of ebooks.
Pragmatic treat ebooks like software. They manage releases, distribute, “install” and communicate with customers about their products like a software company. This is big.
Channel partnerships are an extension of your direct sales efforts. Treat them that way by setting and measuring against sales targets.
We don’t need no stinkin’ targets.
Partnerships are formed for a variety of reasons, from commercializing undeveloped IP to reducing the risk of entering a new market segment to creating new sales channels. In all cases, clear objectives are a must. In the case of channel partners, none should get the green light without first establishing formal sales targets, but all too many do.
We all have a natural bias in favor of the things we send out into the world. When those things are products we make and sell to customers, we necessarily believe they’re the greatest. If not, how else could we persist and prevail when the going gets tough?
When it comes to building partnerships, we need to temper that bias. Because what makes or breaks a partnership at the outset isn’t how great the product is, but the opportunity it represents – one defined by expanded markets and increased revenue. More money.
To demonstrate this, we need to convey three things: profit, path and proof.