Fall 2017 — Week 08 Process Journal

Kellogg Business Case: Zeald: From Start-Up to Maturity

In this case study, the foundation and early stages of New Zealand web design and e-commerce company are presented along with some of the challenges that they faced through different stages.

One of the key advantages that Zeald founders had, was the physical presence in their market — if they had started a similar e-commerce or web design company in a different location they might not have had the same success — a more developed environment (such as Silicon Valley) might have presented more competitors for them, while a less developed one would not have had web development and e-commerce as key needs and opportunities for them.

Their playbook of creating a series of building blocks paid off well in that they could build solutions and let users (their resellers) deliver solutions using a common framework, and not need to re-invent solutions or duplicate work. The strategy to hire someone who could develop a sales strategy as well as increase the client portfolio took longer than it should — various technology examples have shown that technology by itself does not make a company successful without an adequate sales approach as well as a client portfolio (they are the ones providing the revenue, after all!), plus the original technology+design pitch did not really address the core customer need: have an e-commerce website that generates sales.

Open-sourcing their educational material, they made it more accessible for others to build on their solutions and processes — this makes adopting their new technologies and using their services easier, since customers might already be familiar with Zeald and their approaches.

One benefit that Zeald had over Motorola (from the other case), was that their technology could be easily updated once, whereas Motorola had to both manufacture and ship a physical device that needed to be subject to regulations and laws where it operated, and work with additional telecoms providers to negotiate them carrying their device.

Questions:

  • How much of the processes/best practices should be open-sourced (or made publicly available) to guide or assist customers while still maintaining a value proposition to sell customers products and services?
  • How should one’s company react to a new competitor coming from the original company that may have a lot of resources and know-how? How much should the playbook be changed as a reaction?

Kellogg Business Case: Motorola Droid 2: The Product Manager’s Dilemma

In this case study, the team developing the Motorola Droid 2 cellphone is presented with a change request from Verizon (their largest telecommunications customer) that may impact the product plan and delay delivery to customers.

From the product manager’s perspective, there are a few approaches to this problem, such as validate Verizon’s feedback from customers, but be careful about directly acting on this feedback by removing the photo button; all the feedback is based on the current device, and may not accurately reflect the new hardware, or the OS functionality that Google might have added to Android. Immediately have a specialized team work on a physical button re-design, in case it needs to be done (this research will nevertheless prove useful on the long term).

Immediately run usability tests to determine if the camera is discoverable, usable, and intuitive without a photo button — if said button is removed and the OS provides an un-intuitive way to access the camera, the phone’s overall satisfaction score will decrease and return rates will increase.

If it is validated that the phone can be used without a camera button then move fwd with the button removal, but if not, then factor in the time to develop and test a new button, plus manufacturing and shipping times to provide a delay update. If delaying is not an option, the current dissatisfaction with the button is not a deal-breaker and the company has enough footprint on the market, then ship a V2 with the old button, while the bew button is redesigned and added to later production of V2s.

Questions:

- How can one adequately push back on a customer/partner request, like “Remove the camera button” without risking the relationship?

- How much testing/validation can be done in the short term to warrant the validity of an approach?

- When a product launch cannot be delayed, what’s the right way to set expectations on customers, and end-users?

Non-Class Reading: SunFunder.com — The Move From Crowd-funding to Institutional Investors

SunFunder started crowdfunding solar energy projects in African countries, which made it easy for individuals to lend some money to a project and eventually get paid back. After the projects became larger, and more complex, the funding needs changed — they required higher amounts, and in specific occasions a fairly short time frame.

SunFunder decided to retire their crowdfunding platform and focus on institutional investors only. While this change impacted their starting audience, it made it possible for them to continue growing in order to be able to adequately fund more, larger projects. This change in their playbook was not easy, but so far has proved successful.