The Success Gap: Part 2
The Success Gap: Part 2
Part 2 – The Challenges that Technology Providers Have with “The Success Gap”
Understanding “The Success Gap”
In Part 1 of this series I defined what we refer to at beedance as “The Success Gap” – which is something that many companies struggle with when they adopt and deploy digital engagement and communications technologies, such as:
- broadcasting and webcasting platforms
- team collaboration software
- video-centric meeting tools
- digital training and learning solutions
“The Success Gap” is the difference between the functional requirements that the technology provides – what the technology can do – and the desired business outcome that the company wants to achieve by using the technology, such as:
- Increased employee engagement and productivity,
- Lower customer churn and attrition, or
- Enhanced Channel Partner activation and revenue generation
And that “Gap” refers to what we call the “Appropriate Conditions for Success” – or elements, beyond technology functionality, that are critical to achieving that desired business outcome. We have identified several strategic and operational Conditions for Success, which I will summarize below.
The three key Strategic Conditions for Success are critically important, if not absolutely necessary for success, and include:
- Securing senior executive buy-in
- Ensuring alignment with company business objectives and critical initiatives
- Developing the ability to measure business impact and value creation
The four key Operational Conditions for Success, which are also very important, include:
- Ensuring effective onboarding of the technology across the enterprise
- Driving early adoption and consistent usage
- Fostering high perceived value / high strategic value
- Delivering strong user support
With that review of Part 1, let’s now focus on why technology providers often struggle to help their customers close “The Success Gap.”
The Challenges that Technology Providers Have with Addressing “The Success Gap”
In my experience digital engagement and communication technology companies have done a great job developing software for the functional delivery of a client’s digital engagement and communications programs but often fail to help their customers effectively adopt the technologies in a way that ensures the customer achieves its strategic business outcomes & results.
In essence, the technology companies can’t close “The Success Gap.”
Now, certainly these technology companies want their customers to be successful, because customers that find success and value with their technology are far more likely to renew their software licenses and buy more products, so that’s definitely in the technology companies’ interest.
I’ve observed three key challenges facing technology companies in this regard.
Software Business Model and Core Competencies
The first challenge is really all about the software business model and core competencies. Obviously, a software company’s core competency lies in developing great software technology. Their central focus is primarily on making certain that the technology works and will perform as advertised.
Technology companies are often reluctant to provide the kind of services that could help customers eliminate “The Success Gap” because providing those services requires very different capability and skill sets from software development. Professional services are also a very different business model than SaaS software licensing. In fact, we now see that some platform providers are getting out of providing professional services because of these challenges.
Software Company Motivation
The second observation is about software company motivation, which is closely related to their core competency. Technology companies are primarily motivated to sell more software licenses – that’s where the bulk of their revenue comes from and how they’ve oriented their businesses. As an example, Sales Incentive Programs are typically focused on selling software licenses, less so strategic services.
Some technology providers do have some very talented Customer Success Managers, or even robust Customer Service Teams – yet while I’ve found those folks to be successful at addressing some of the “Operational Conditions for Success,” they rarely have the ability to effectively deliver the more “Strategic Conditions for Success,” which are absolutely critical to helping the customer achieve its desired business outcomes.
My third observation deals with strategic alignment between the software provider and the customer. In my opinion, I think most technology companies, naturally, have inherent biases to their own software solutions. I don’t fault them for this, and there’s nothing sinister about it – they believe in their solutions and they want to sell more of their products, so it makes perfect sense.
The problem for customers is that this bias can potentially interfere with the technology company’s ability to provide sound strategic and operational support that is aligned with the customer’s best interests and business objectives. It’s sort of like the old saying – “if you’re selling hammers, every problem looks like a nail.”
Ultimately, this goes back to the fact that technology companies are primarily focused on delivering working software as opposed to helping the customer achieve a desired business outcome.
Thus, “The Success Gap” exists.
Companies that are in the market to acquire digital engagement and communications technologies should certainly select technology that provides the right functional capabilities and best supports the achievement of their desired business outcomes; but should bear in mind that their chosen technology provider may not be able to help them create all the “Appropriate Conditions for Success” necessary to achieve those desired outcomes.
In Part Three of this series, How to Close “The Success Gap” and Achieve Your Desired Business Outcome, I’ll wrap-up the series by outlining several key steps that companies can take to ensure they close “The Success Gap” and achieve their desired business outcomes.