Since the time that Apple and Google have become dominant players in technology, there has been the argument of which strategy is better – having near total control of your product or taking a “giving the keys to the car” approach.
Steve Jobs, the legendary founder and CEO of Apple was well known for his laser like focus. He first used it on the Apple I personal computer and its subsequent iterations, then on the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Job’s philosophy was that brilliance was achieved through simplicity. He also believed that his products would be more dependable if he had complete control of their environment.
To that end, Apple products have never been configurable or customizable. Apple hires brilliant people to build their products and they do not want anyone “tampering” with them. Even in those situations where apps are written to run on an iOS device, they have to be approved before being eligible for the Apple Store.
This philosophy has worked extremely well for Apple. It is the largest publicly traded corporation in the world in terms of market capitalization and has one of the most loyal customer bases ever. But there are not many Apples out there. If it was that easy, companies everywhere would have adopted similar strategies.
Google, on the other hand, took a completely different path to building their company. Their strategy was to make Google’s products available to the biggest number of possible users and to give those users the tools to work with these products. Where Apple’s ecosystem was completely closed, Google’s was, to a large degree, open.
All of this is to say that there is more than one “right” business model. I have read many articles asserting that more control is absolutely vital, and for a lot of companies, this works. Others take the approach that the customer knows best, and allows them considerable input into product development.
At mJobTime, we have adopted a hybrid approach. We love to receive input from our customers and prospects on how we can improve our mobile time clock software. We carefully consider each recommendation, and make a decision on whether to incorporate that suggestion into the product based on two main factors:
1) the number of similar requests we have received from other customers and prospects, and
2) whether we believe it will benefit a large enough share of our customer base.
In most cases, if the answer to either item is yes, and especially when both are true, we will add the request to our software on our time schedule. If the requesting party prefers to have the new feature on an expedited basis, we will do the request to meet their time schedule and split the development cost with them. If we determine that there is not a benefit to enough customers, we will ask the customer if they would like us to quote them a price to write the custom code.
For us, this system has worked out very well. Customer requests really do drive our product. Just not all of them! When we add a new feature to mJobTime, not only are we making a customer (s) very happy, but we are also adding a potential improvement to the business process of many other customers.
Our latest feature and the next one to be added are perfect examples.
We recently added an employee portal where employees can login to mJobTime on their personal devices and check their hours worked. This was a request from a new customer, but since we have incorporated this new feature, the response from other customers and prospects has been tremendous.
The reception has been the same for our soon to be released Documents Manager Module which allows admin users in mJobTime to save frequently used company documents such as checklists, punch lists, change orders, work orders, etc. as pdfs. Field users can then download these documents and “write” on them with a stylus, finger, or other device to complete or update the document and save to a job file. The demand has been so great that we have had more advance sales of this new module than any other previous module. And, you guessed it. It came from a customer request!
We’d like to thank our customers for making mJobTime a big success. We absolutely could not have done it without you.
Do you have an idea you’d like to share with us regarding our product? If so, call us at 866-922-TIME (8463) or email us email@example.com.
“Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done”