Making business investments takes courage, especially in these challenging economic times. Technology investments are a component of almost all business investments these days. I hate our batting average on the return on investment (ROI) for web-to-print software investments. I can’t say I’ve done formal market research – I don’t trust what people say during surveys anyway, but virtually every customer we engage with has a “story” about a failed web-to-print software investment.
My baseball fan friends always say to me, “if you hit three out of ten, you’re on the road to the hall of fame.” We can’t afford a batting average of 300 in our web-to-print software investments. We built the W2P Finder to impact the batting average in the field of print software investments. There is a lot of confusion around technology in general, mostly because the technology industry has devolved down to the lowest common denominator of product features. More and more features, long lists, great effort to compare and contrast, all in the service of what? Features confuse. Features force the buyer to learn the language of the vendor (homework). The feature discussion gets in the way of what’s really important – your online strategy and how that can be enabled by the right technology provider!
I’ve seen printers focus down at the feature level and then select a product that doesn’t actually support their primary target customer market. Worst of all, they proceed with the implementation and try and force a solution to do what it was never intended to do. Everyone loses. The vendor has a very unhappy customer; the printer wasted their precious business investment dollars, lost time to market, and now is faced with the hard choice of starting over.
In many situations, printers confuse technology with their strategy. Technology isn’t your strategy; it’s the tool that enables your strategy. You have to have a strategy, buying technology will not make your business successful online; the only thing it guarantees is money leaving your bank account and getting deposited in the vendors (that always happens).
The W2P Finder doesn’t select a vendor for you; it simple asks that you think through the highest level components of your strategy in the process of your selection.
Don’t be freaked out by the word strategy – this isn’t consultant speak; this is simply the essence of what you’re trying to accomplish in language that everyone in your organization understands. Don’t spend your precious business investment dollars without defining who you’re trying to target online, what you want to sell them, and where you want to do business (geography). Doesn’t that sound ridiculously obvious? It can’t be that simply. Technology is supposed to be in a language only the tech geeks understand, and include lots of conversations about servers, xml, and databases – this is something anyone can understand. Precisely my point; figure your strategy out first, and then let it be your guide for choosing the enabling technology tool.