Technology innovation is not enough

This week, I met with one of my former clients who have done some innovative work in the digital media space.  They are a typical tech company  with typical problems  that create  typical opportunities for larger companies to buy them out for peanuts. This particular company operates in a difficult and competitive market with long sales cycles and a complex eco-system of publishers, vendors, resellers and systems integrators.

The textbooks all talk about focus, and even though the client recognizes that their main market is  in developing countries – they are dabbling in various projects and trying to sell into other market segments.   The problem is they don’t know how to go from point A to point B and they never will.

Venture capitalists look for the WOW factor, big market and sales cycles that run quickly for new ventures seek funding.

If you are a manager in a tech company in trouble – stop for moment, fire yourself from your job and start asking VC-style questions. Maybe you do  have a big market, but you’ve lost sight of the WOW factor going into those long messy sales cycles. Look for some of these symptoms in your company:

  • Managers that need outside consultants to tell them what time it is. It’s not uncommon for expensive organizational consultants to prey on companies in trouble.
  • Key people (like product managers) are marking time and not taking initiatives
  • Team members put off project status meetings.
  • Employee discussions  generate more complaints about the company’s situation, than active decisions.
  • Employees spend more time on office politics then planning and executing solutions of going from point A to point B.
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