Why customer first? Because the world has changed.
Firstly, the internet happened. A great app can be sold to millions around the world, within minutes of being launched. The world got smaller. Markets got bigger.
Secondly, social networks became popular. This increases the “winner takes all” effect. Facebook. Google. iPhone. If you’re product is awesome, everyone’s going to hear about it.
Thirdly, even before the internet… software happened. Building apps needs much less investment than building factories and warehouses. Especially now we have the cloud.
It used to be that to make customers happy you needed money to build better factories. Nowadays, an app can be developed and hosted by one person working from the bedroom.
I believe that profit is commonly over-rated partly because investors are often focused on the short term. And partly because profit is easy to measure. It’s the easy option. Until recently anyway… social shares make it easier than ever to guage how many customers recommend your product. A/B testing makes it possible to run controlled experiments on your audience.
All the above factors mean that business is more competitive than ever. Which means that customer focus is more important than ever. Too many companies are stuck in the culture of the previous generation. Disagree? Leave a comment!
Well, yes, I agree with all of the principles that you have outlined, however Money underpins success, and although yes,t he internet has empowered people to produce, host and sell apps all from a bedroom, this is not the case for big business. And actually there are many examples of the challenges faced. Look at facebooks shocking mobile product.
Of all business the ultimate goal is to make money, albeit in the Short or Long term and when developing products its important to be mind full of that. The worst situation for both developers and saleman alike is that a product is released ‘consumer first’ the company loses revenues and the product is bastardised in an attempt to recoup losses…
Having profit as a corporate mission is too general. (The book Obliquity has some good examples). Profit isn’t very inspiring. What is your company going to do to make profit thats different to other companies? Ultimately, the difference is the customer experience.
Steve Jobs sums it up. “My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products,” Jobs told Isaacson. “[T]he products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything.”
Great blog on the subject by Tim O’Reilly here…