Closer Customers, Smarter Products

Customer-Development-Engineering

We, at 1E, place customers at the heart of our innovation, and take pride in delighting them with wonderful and relevant technology. Listening to customers and their success stories is increasingly important to us, as is working and collaborating with them closely. I am Gokul Raju, and would like to take this opportunity to describe the ways in which we work and learn with our customers, and especially Customer Development Engineering.

Engineering at 1E is not just about creating wonderful products that solve complex problems, but also about creating maximum value for our customers. As an engineering function, we place agility at the core of our development processes. Likewise as a Product organisation, a term we increasingly like to use is the ‘Lean Startup’ philosophy which talks about creating MVP (Minimum Viable Products) by placing ‘Validated Learning’ at the heart of its approach.

The marriage of these two philosophies creates what we call Customer Development Engineering (CDE) – an area I have had some experience of while working at 1E. We often hear technologists say: Why don’t customers just tell us what they want and we’ll build it for them. The danger of doing this would risk creating bespoke solutions that lack mass enterprise appeal. Complexity in the real world is sometimes hidden away from the dungeons of a technology function, and CDE solves some of that pain but comes with its own set of challenges too.

Talking and engaging with customers from the outset of an engineering cycle is not only a significant shift in mindset, but also a big shift from the perspective of engineering processes. Marrying the ‘Build-Measure-Learn’ feedback loop with customers into an existing Agile process is a challenge. Imagine the process impact of a task as ‘prototyping with a customer’. Early Adopter or Joint Development programs give us a platform to engage with our customers on an end-user basis. You are not just talking to the people who could decide to buy the software you’ve written, you are also talking to the people who could use your software day in, day out. Gathering requirements from end-users reduces requirements churn and thereby creates a low-burn cycle. MVP (I prefer to call it ‘Maximum Value Product’ with minimal effort) is not a judgment any more, but is closer to reality.

It also brings increased opportunities for our customers to know the technology better and, get priority access to the cool technology we come up with. In turn, It helps us know our customers better, and provide a richer customer journey. Our customers love discovering tips and tricks about products they use, ones that could save them the effort of writing a script or a couple of hours of time. Greater communication and collaboration foster better points for innovation, and represent a great opportunity for customers to obtain maximum value from the end product.

Get in touch with us if you want to learn more about Early Adopter or Joint Customer Development programs. I look forward to hearing from you.

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