Venture capitalist Stu Phillips of Ridgelift Ventures writes about companies needing to “eat their own dog food” when it comes to using their products. He makes the point that they’ll understand product issues and fix them faster if they do.
While I agree, I think it’s especially important that companies eat the competitors’ dog food too! Most of our clients are involved in crowded markets where customers have a multitude of choice. And yet, I see technology companies using ONLY their own products internally.
Does HP use Sun servers with Solaris? Does Apple use Nokia phones? Does Cisco use Juniper switches? Does Oracle use SAP? Does Microsoft use web-based office productivity software?
Imagine if they did. Imagine what the marketing and engineering people would learn. They would learn the good, the bad and the ugly, not just about their competitors’ products, but more importantly, they’d learn the good, the bad and the ugly about their own products when they contrast them to competitive offerings.
Too many companies “drink their own kool-aid” and/or eat their own dog food so much that they actually believe they understand their products from a customer’s perspective inside an incredibly competitive world.
Worst case, if you can’t make it happen inside your company, hire a firm (could be Crimson, could be other companies) to help you get that real experience, insight and knowledge you crave about how your competitors’ products are really doing.