Trust Your Customers and Your Vision. (Not Hazel, The Industry Analyst)
I have been working in high tech for about 30 years, mostly in product management and product marketing roles. And in those roles, I have often interacted with industry analysts. These are the people who talk to vendors and end users and form opinions about products and markets.
Consumers of analyst reports sometimes think these are the “go-to” experts to seek input about market direction or future product direction. The reality is they are great people if you are looking for input about the status of a technology market as it stands today. Good analysts are well informed about which companies have good products and lots of happy customers vs those that don’t. Or those that have lots of customers and a superior sales organization, but crappy products.
For the most part, I like these people and in my current role, I don’t actually have to work with them. So I will go out on a limb and give my actual opinion about analysts who I feel overstep their bounds when it comes to predicting the future of technology and markets. Honestly, if you want to pontificate about the future of tech, you should have an idea, raise some money and go for it. If you aren’t willing to put your money or your career where your mouth is, then maybe you should sit this one out.
The bottom line is that industry analysts generally aren’t very good at predicting the future. Of course, neither are venture capitalists (VCs) as 90% of startups still fail. It is just that the 10% that do succeed make enough to cover the 90% that don’t. (And the reality is that VCs don’t need a company to succeed in the classic sense of turning a profit. Much of the time they just need the company to get acquired.)
The bottom line is that a lot of the so-called experts aren't that expert. If they were, Theranos would never have been able to raise almost $1B based on bad science and a product that was never demonstrated to the investors and partners. People just invested money because someone else invested money and assumed the prior investor knew what they were doing and so on down the line. A classic case of FOMO (fear of missing out), which is pretty common in Silicon Valley. Few people, if any, have access to a good crystal ball and are adept at using it.
Fortunately, I don’t meet with industry analysts in my current job, so as I noted above, I will let my opinions fly here. My colleagues aren’t responsible for my mad ravings.
The bottom line, regardless, is that if you are building new products like we do to help solve real-world problems, you talk to your customers and trust your vision as an entrepreneur to determine direction. You put a product out there, get some feedback, and then build what you think is right based on that feedback. That is why 8x8 was the first voice/video/chat vendor to market with an easy to deploy and use product that embeds directly into Microsoft Teams providing voice services through the Teams native dialer. No analyst told us to do that, our customers did and we heard it by keeping our ear close to the ground.
With that as background, and as I want to reserve customer interviews for a later date, I decided to interview my friend’s dog Hazel to see what she had to say about 8x8 Voice for Teams. After all, she knows as much about the future of integrated video, voice and chat as just about anyone else who isn’t actually building a product. In addition, Hazel is a beautiful chocolate lab, and is quite easy on the eyes. So if you don’t care for her commentary, you will at least enjoy looking at her.
So Hazel, take it away.