I was sitting in a local tech meet-up last evening watching a demo of a new video service. One criterion I always use to evaluate new stuff is “does it solve a problem and is that problem of a size that’s big enough to support a business?” This does (note to self – a post soon on SWAP’s – Solutions Without A Problem) but so do the other 20 or 30 solutions addressing the issue. So what makes this one a winner?
Simply put – The Power of Better. I think there is great power in innovating but I also think there is just as much – arguably more – power in being better and I can prove it.
Let’s start with Amazon. Does anyone think it was the first on-line commerce solution? The web browser was introduced in 1990, Shoplet was selling stuff and others were all active by 1994 and Amazon didn’t open up until 1995. It wasn’t first – it was better.
1995 was also when eBay began. It too wasn’t the first on-line auction site but it was better. Netflix started in 1998 and at first had a traditional business model of pay per rental, just like your local video store. When they made the model better – pay one price for all you can eat – the business took off. The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player but it was better and became the standard. There are dozens of other examples which I’m sure come to your mind.
The reason I bring this up because what I saw last evening was better, not massively different. Sometimes we all put way too much energy into being different when doing what’s proven to work better than anyone else will serve the same purpose. As I said above, it’s often better just to be better – you don’t have to explain anything to your users – than it is to be different.
The power of better is what underlies great customer experiences. At their core, airlines are all the same but I’ll bet you think more highly of one or two than you do others. They’re better, not different. The expression is build a BETTER mousetrap, not a different one. I’m an advocate of great ideas but I push just as hard for superior execution – being better.
How are you spending your time – being different or being better? Let me know!