The vendors have forgotten an important rule when it comes to product development: figure out what the customers want, and give it to them.
Where are the tech products that will help us through these tough
economic times? I'm putting this question the hands of you, the reader,
as the vendor community has come up short in this regard.
the vendors been? Why haven't they come out with
any solutions for helping business executives and consumers deal with
the issues of rising fuel prices, a frozen credit market (thanks to the
subprime loan crisis), and tech jobs and innovation continuing to head
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There are a couple of reasons, in my opinion.
First, the big vendors have been tremendously distracted. Microsoft,
IBM, Cisco and other vendor behemoths have a lot of money. At the same
time, small startups, seeing the window slam shut on the IPO market,
have a great desire to get acquired before their venture funding runs
dry. With so many little companies yearning to be acquired, the big
boys have replaced innovation with acquisition.
Add to this the rise of social networks--which are fun for trying to
build a media empire but not really of much use for consumers trying to
figure out how to get an economic boost--and you have a vendor
community blind to the economic bind of their customer base.
I recently did a slide show in my blog
named 10 tech products that were needed during these hard times
but are currently unavailable. Among other things, I suggested mashups
of social networks tied to the old concept of food co-ops;
energy-management systems for the home; and consumer energy co-ops
modeled after data-center management systems such as those offered by EnerNoc
At the heart of all this, though, is filling customer needs-the
first and best tenet of product development. Were Microsoft's customers
crying out for a combined Microsoft-Yahoo media platform to take on
Google? I don't think so. Would Microsoft's customers like to see
office management applications extend back into the energy- and
fuel-management systems of their companies? I think so.
I'm writing this column a few days after Microsoft put the brakes on
its proposed hostile takeover of Yahoo. As we've all learned from
recent high-tech takeovers, such as BEA by Oracle, a deal considered
dead can quickly be resurrected if the stock price is right.
But I'm hoping that the execs taking part in and watching the
takeover sweepstakes can get back to the business of innovation instead
of acquisition. And I'm hoping that you, eWEEK's readers, can come up
with some products and services you would like to see those vendors
provide to help you through the current economic doldrums.
Eric Lundquist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.