Aug 162004

I’ve been out of the office for the past few days for a strategic planning thinktank. Boz Elloy (Borland Sr Vice President of Product Development) has called together Borland’s CS’s, CTO, CMO, SVP’s, GM’s, BM’s, and LMNOPM’s from all over the map – including remote regions of Michigan, Chicago, Atlanta, Boulder Creek, and St. Petersberg (Russia, not Florida) – to review the corporate strategic plans and make course corrections as needed.

It’s sort of a variation on the time honored tradition of cramming a bunch of hackers into a basement and feeding them pizza under the door until they code up something awesome. Well, except for the pizza and basement parts.

There have been of course the mandatory buzzword bingo obstacle course and TLA wilderness orienteering challenges, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the focus of this gathering and the research that has gone into forming the main proposal of this event. Real market analysis, for example. Stats with teeth. Identifying who the target customer is by studying purchasing patterns and purchasing power, interviewing members of that target group, and compiling hard stats on what they desperately need to get their jobs done.

You’d think this would be routine for every concept proposal, but in truth such direct research is rarely done because it’s so expensive. A lot of proposals make do with extrapolations of third party market data or polling our own sales force and close customers. For well-established and understood market segments, that works just fine. But how do you measure a market that has been hiding in plain view, that’s on nobody’s radar? The hard way: You lace up your sneakers and go knocking on doors. Better yet, hire a messenger to do the polling for you so that your presence doesn’t skew the results either way.

The only parts of this idea that are crystal clear at this nebulous concept stage are:

1) It’s big. Big work. Big risk. Big reward.

2) This idea and the plan to get there will be rolled out September 13, 8am. BorCon

Caution: Disruptive ideas ahead. Time for some fun!