upFront.eZine NEWS #521
Mr McNeel went on to describe the Wiki business world, a.k.a. Web 2.0. This new way of running a business has these attributes:
* No central control.
* No source of capital.
* Contributors are beneficiaries.
* Open everything -- collected intellectual property, peer review, value-added opportunities -- with customers in control.
* Both customers and suppliers are global.
* Users provide self-service sales, training, support.
* The value of proprietary intellectual property is under attack; the value is in implementation, testing,support, and maintenance.
Naturally, Mr McNeel feels many of those attributes apply to his business. He says he is obsessed with user success, and focuses on that which helps the user:
* Long-term stability.
* Profitable growth, instead of fast growth.
* Focus on market penetration, instead of quarterly sales targets.
* Funding through retained earnings, instead of Wall Street or venture capital.
* Complement other products, instead of competing with them.
* Use proven technology, instead of new technology. (While he admitted that new tech is more interesting, it's flaw is that it is too disruptive).
* Reputation with customers is important, instead of status within the industry.
In the McNeel world, every customer is a user, developer, tester, support person, trainer, and sales person -- which keeps down the employee count. He spends his time on overhauling business processes, removing fat and those things that don't add value. He thinks globally for every aspect: development, marketing, sales, support, and training. (The software is available in 11 languages, with two more coming this year).
At the tactical level, he wants to deliver exceptional value and user experience. Users expect it to be easy to buy, implement, install, and use. Everyone gets the same support, whether student, developer, competitor -- even bootleg users. His company has no call tracking, no requirement for reporting serial numbers, because that gets in the way of providing support. [That recalled my long discussion last week with an ESL Alienware support guy over the exact spelling of my email address.]
(Speaking of bootlegs, Mr McNeel feels that the price of the software is a small cost of its value. He thinks that the cost of adding hardware or software protection overwhelms the income that they may or may not receive by forcing users to be legal. So, take that, BSA!)