It’s Basic, Man!

When the time comes to select a new product – either to replace your current solution or augment your landscape to a new level – features get uttermost of attention. Every vendor knows that of course – and to dress up the bride just common sense before you go on the pitch.

And, of course, every vendor communicates the unique and revolutionary new features of their product as bold, loud and aggressively as possible… .hat’s marketing 101. In product development, this also follows a specific pattern which is described in the Kano Model.

Kano knows three classes of product features: excitement, performance and basic.

Excitement features are usually perceived as the innovation differentiator – which is not a correct attribution. As the name indicates, these features create excitement but might not be directly applicable to a practical problem domain or business challenge. However, they are shiny, new, exciting, super cool, and nobody else has them.

See, that’s the point. Some features are so cool, that nobody else will ever have them – and that’s not a problem of innovation, code quality or a “blockchain based cloud AI in the augmented reality deep learning quantum computer.”

Of course, the 2% of excitement features mature, prove useful and applicable, and will move to performance features. Performance features aren’t exciting any more – they are not unique. But they can be either fast or cheap, or have a better user interface – they differentiate one product from the other. Both have the capability – but on the same level. Excitement features are not on your requirements list, but a vendor answering your RFP will put them there.

Performance features are more likely to be on your requirements list, and that’s where you rate it with points.

What doesn’t get enough attention are basic features. It is often assumed that every solution in a specific domain has them – that’s why a product is in a specific domain. See, for example, a new phone – nobody would put the requirement “can it actually dial a phone number and connect me to any other user of a public phone system?” which may call to mind the unreliability of the first voice-over-ip phones. There’s a disclaimer stating that you might not use them for emergency calls, right? But that’s pretty basic…

In a product space, new vendors tend to give basic features or requirements less attention, and concentrate on excitement and performance features. Mature vendors are in a slightly better position. Basic features are their legacy, performance features have once been excitement features and excitement features live in the roadmap. When selecting a product, make sure that you put your shortlisted potential solution providers to a test on basic domain specific capabilities. I will continue with a drill down on basic domain specific capability sets for enterprise class DAM systems in the next days and weeks – stay tuned.

Kai Strieder

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