Everything you see within your field of vision is the same. If I reflect on my vast experience in the market for ERP, HCM, Procurement or CRM solutions, and more recently with Blockchain and Digital Banking Platforms, the thing I see is a crowded space with (on the surface) very little differentiation. It all still seems homogenous somehow, nothing standing out from the crowd, at least from the view at 30,000 feet. For a business software organization contemplating a product strategy that will make a splash, get noticed, and quickly gain needed traction, the endless congruence extending to the horizon can be intimidating.
So what’s the key to a successful product strategy when everything you see looks the same, and the barriers to entry are overwhelming? My advice: Turn your head and look in an entirely different direction, one not riddled with competition and uniformity. Simply put, making a blue ocean shift is the difference-maker you’re looking for if you can inhabit the right perspective and mindset.
A Blue Ocean Product Strategy Charts Your Own Course
For those not familiar with the Blue Ocean strategy concept: Think of yourself as a commercial fisherman for a moment, looking to fill your catch quota in seas filled with countless other boats, all looking to accomplish the same thing. Rather than throwing your lines out in such waters, where the likelihood of snagging a passing school of bluefin is tantamount to hitting the lottery, find a patch of clear blue ocean, where nothing separates you from success other than your imagination, drive, and tenacity. When the ocean in front of you is too crowded to fish, develop a product strategy that reveals nothing but wide-open ocean and opportunity.
Be Innovative in Thought and Action
What I like about the Blue Ocean strategy is its simplicity in the way helps you reveal new insights about the competitive levers you can use to introduce significant value innovation. Another aspect I value highly is its techniques to spot new buyer groups that will significantly grow your target market. It allows you to become a trendsetter and stimulate thinking, acting, creating in a way that’s unique and inherently singular relative to the marketplace. It’s a great tool to create your own category.
Granted, true innovation might require you to step outside of your comfort zone but, as many great innovators have demonstrated over the years — nothing ventured, nothing gained. The concepts behind creating a blue ocean shift provide you the framework to systematically look outside of your sector, expertise, and skill set for ideas that have shaped an industry elsewhere. That’s what I always find eye-opening. It opens ample of opportunities to then combine those ideas with your own innovative perspective to create something entirely new, bold, vivid, and revolutionary, even if it’s just intended for a small section of your own blue ocean at initial launch. Lastly, something we all seem to forget, sit down and meticulously define the boundaries that confine you and your industry to gain a thorough understanding of the artificial constraints that cause everything to be so similar and non-inspiring.
Once well-defined, take those innovative thoughts and actions to steer around those barriers, like that fisherman that separates from the pack to fish open seas. Your product strategy should strive for those unfished waters, by smartly blending your efforts around four levers: Create, Eliminate, Reduce and Increase. Along the way, rely on technology to streamline your efforts and rethink how it can aid to grow the value innovation you are aiming for exponentially. The best Blue Ocean Shifts are those that create leaps of value for your customers, but also leaps in cost reduction, i.e., the best of both worlds.
Define Your Future
The essence of a blue ocean product strategy is using today to define your tomorrow. This notion, of course, might seem obvious or even commonplace but, in reality, is an absolute rarity from your current field of vision. Follow the lead of some of our most innovative minds and create a position of business advantage by being different, utilizing a framework of thought and action that allows you to see your strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats through a different lens.
Employing a blue ocean product strategy requires gumption that might not agree with everyone’s disposition and constitution. However, for those that can embrace it and integrate it into their thoughts and actions, that road less traveled could very well make all the difference. That’s why I started my business – helping business software companies reimagine what can be, to become remarkable (again).
If you’re pondering on what’s next for your business software company – give me a call.