Had another three focus group sessions yesterday – this time with SMB/SME, Non-customers and Citrix Customer groups. Very interesting, indeed.

Past research has often centered upon existing customers, and in more recent years, mainly on the larger enterprise customer segment. With the introduction of Access Essentials around a year ago, it been important to regain focus on small to medium business (SMB – 50 to 250 employees) customers. It equally important to remain abreast of what of a product are doing instead of buying your products.

In the past several years, a lot of attention has been placed on enterprise adoption – very successfully. More recently, I begun balancing my attention across many different market segments, including SMB, SME and truly understanding the Non-Consumers (and why they non-consuming)…

When I talk about of a product, I using this terminology in the sense that Professor Clayton Christensen uses it. For anyone not familiar with Professor Christensen, he is the Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He has written numerous leading business books, including href=”http://www.amazon.com/Innovators-Dilemma-Revolutionary-Business-Essentials/dp/0060521996/sr=8-2/qid=1159481269/ref=pd_bbs_2/002-8626930-9529643?ie=UTF8 title=”Innovator Dilemma” target=”_blank”>The Innovator Dilemma and href=”http://www.amazon.com/Innovators-Solution-Creating-Sustaining-Successful/dp/1578518520/sr=8-1/qid=1159481269/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-8626930-9529643?ie=UTF8 title=”The Innovator Solution” target=”_blank”>The Innovator Solution – great books that all modern-day technology and business people should read and learn to apply (IMHO). In these treatises on innovation and market disruption forces, Professor Christensen bases much of his theories around the to be done by customers and how products must become better at helping customers get their specific jobs done.

According to this perspective, hire products to get a particular job done Understanding each job customers are trying get done hiring a product yields unique and powerful insights into customer needs (and product attributes required to fully satisfy the job). Additionally, the biggest opportunities are often jobs that are extremely important to do, yet still present a high degree of frustration (or uncertainty) in doing them using currently available how the heck does all this mumbo jumbo apply, one might wonder? Well, I going to get into that – eventually. But first, a recent may be useful.

I often thought about what led to the extraordinary success of Apple iPod. Prior to the advent of the iPod, I only listened to music on the radio, CDROM and via satellite (both Direct TV and XM Radio, which I still use today). I had plenty of music sources available to me, and just couldn be bothered to use an MP3 player with the available, non-integrated online music sources (which were painful and time-consuming to deal with). I did download music and listen to it through my PC, but only occasionally. Hmm. I wonder why I didn do it more often?

That easy. It simply wasn convenient enough. I don always have my notebook PC with me, it batteries run down too fast, and to get music onto it just took too long, and playing it on my PC wasn what I really wanted to do. So, I was basically a of portable digital music for the most part. Meanwhile, my kids all had MP3 players and usually had their music with them (I tried not to ask where they got it, but believe it was mostly legit stuff).

In the early days, Napster was one of those file sharing sites – until it got shut down involuntarily briefly. Of course, it reopened and still operates today, selling songs for a song, as I recall. I haven been there in a long time, except to pick up the link included above. could bought any MP3 player and had portable music with some additional effort, but the units were too clunky looking and undesirable to me, and the whole process was far time-consuming and inconvenient – so I steered clear. I could use Napster, but I still don today, as the integrated Apple solution completely satisfied me.

The marketing geniuses at Apple realized all this some years back that the MP3 player was clunky, with its arcane switches and controls, and even its shape, which was apparently preventing the true market from materializing. They also realized the available solutions were incomplete, a situation resulting in non-consumers – and a giant opportunity for a company who could do it right. People didn have an integrated music solution allowing them to purchase, download and consume portable music conveniently, which had limited the market size and growth.

You see, what they identified was the that most people wanted to get done, but couldn today (especially non-consumers like me). More specifically, the job to be done was something like me purchase music conveniently online – anytime, anywhere, and seamlessly download it into a slick, portable music player that attractive and easy for me to use The Apple iPod combined with iTunes does this whole job marvelously well. As a result, I absolutely love mine (both of them) – along with around 8 million other people who are buying iPods every quarter, according to some reports.

I went from being a non-consumer (never had a Walkman either) to a satisfied customer with not one, but Apple plus a whole family of additional iPod users. I have personally spent thousands on iPods. I also bought two pair of Bose noise-canceling headphones to go with my iPod – another opportunity for Apple to create something smaller and

Well, needless to say, I not the only non-consumer who finally got into the portable music game. Apple has sold billions of dollars worth of their iPods, plus untold amounts of iTunes (Music as a Service), and from what I can see, it far from over. Now they set their eyes on the video and TV markets. They also selling a record numbers of Apple Mac all kinds now, as a by-product of gaining access to more customers who love their products and now understand and trust the Apple brand and due to finally switching to the Intel chipset. Yeah! Better late than never!

It clear that Apple has recognized its root-causes for non-consumption of existing products (Mac) and addressed non-consumption in a whole new category for Apple – portable music and video. It also clear that their strategy for building an ecosystem upon a proprietary architecture has worked well – so far. However, there is increasing demand for a more open integration approach for the Apple iPod, as some people are beginning to feel trapped and locked in. As markets mature, open standards sometime help the overall market to grow even more, but can cause the market leader problems; e.g., the IBM PC.

So, large groups of non-consumers typically not purchasing a product because it just not suitable to getting their particular done well it not a good enough This can be due to price, inconvenience or other reasons. In the case of the Apple iPod, it was more about getting a complete solution (not about price, since the iPod is clearly more expensive than MP3 players). Other reasons for non-consumption arise from missing product attributes – gaps in features needed to get a particular job done better than a customer other alternatives, or even overshooting a particular market segment needs entirely.

Over the years, there have been numerous reasons for non-consumption of CPS, growing complexity for some less demanding segments, TCO/ROI due to server requirements, application compatibility issues, graphics intensiveness of apps that just don fly – and inconvenience – having to switch away from the status quo by doing something different and unknown. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention Printing?

Along the way, some people tried the technology at various stages of its maturity lifecycle, formed a particular opinion, and haven looked at it again more recently. Many of the original reasons for non-consumption have actually been addressed, but certainly not all – there always room for improvement of any product.

Fortunately, Citrix recognized its biggest TCO/ROI and other adoption barriers over the past few years and has done a lot to address them. I discuss these in introduction posting regarding href=”/blogs/cto/archive/2006/09/21/Introductions-and-Background.aspx” title=”CPS 4″ target=”_blank”>CPS 4. At the same time, the needs of the typical SMB customer were also recognized – the need for a more convenient product that complexity and less functionality, contains an embedded TSCAL license, and has wizards that make it easy to get started quickly and painlessly.

Access Essentials provides a viable solution that (formerly non-consumer) SMB can up quickly, providing their employees with remote access to applications, folders and important data – leveraging powerful enterprise-class tools without the cost and complexity. This added simplicity also makes it possible for a larger range of resellers cost-effectively provide application delivery solutions for SMB customers, and with less up front training investments.

The SMB market segment relies heavily on consultants, application ISV and other resellers to handle their various IT needs, as they typically have little to no IT staff. Citrix Access Essentials addresses what had become increasingly market non-consumption by the SMB as CPS grew more capable, but more complex and feature filled the years – necessary for larger enterprises to be sure, who face many more demands and much more complex environments, but overshooting the needs of companies with more basic needs.

Another, much larger, group of non-consumers is the segment who still use traditional desktops and notebook PCs, usually combined with various VPN products as remote access solution. This segment appears to be fairly happy with their current paradigm (and many of them will probably never change). The approach this group takes is to provide everyone with PC, plus a VPN connection for remote users. Roaming users typically have notebook PCs supplied by the company, which are equipped with company-approved anti-virus, anti-spyware and other tools intended to keep them in a well-managed state.

Of course, this classical approach to a number of different, but well understood challenges. Interestingly, many these pain points have actually become accepted as just being costs that increase proportionally to the number of inter-office WAN links and sites
Unpredictable user experience when roaming, due to the effects of latency on most data-intensive applications (slow, unpredictable response times)
Significant desk costs due to all kinds of desktop and application issues that arise
Significant help desk costs due to foreign network variability (on non-IT controlled networks)
Higher levels of end user frustration and dissatisfaction when things go wrong
Greater security risks, due to sensitive data on laptops, USB drives and even home PCs (which get rationalized away as not really being that risky).

The majority still use IPSec VPN today – a technology that is out now, driving people to seek other solutions. Most folks are considering or have already adopted some kind of SSL/VPN technology, which helps alleviate the network pains caused by IPSec.

I would also say that most SME and enterprise shops now feel they have their desktops reasonably under control, using various tools that do 90% or more what actually needed manage their desktops adequately (including SMS, Altiris and other such ESD tools). What these tools can address, various levels of command and control lockdown schemes can, including re-imaging PC on a regular enough basis to repel users from even thinking about putting local data or apps on them!

In contrast to a traditional desktop/VPN model, I find that Citrix users often report less help desk frustrations, more satisfied end users (after an initial training ramp period and adjustment phase has passed). They have far fewer concerns over common data security risks. They continue to struggle with printing on some level and when something does go awry, it can be challenging for the end-user or help desk to quickly pinpoint what actually causing the issue – the so-called box problem.

Recognizing this challenge, Citrix acquired Reflectant and its EdgeSight product line. EdgeSight monitors actual end-user experience, along with details about the end-to-end pathway from user to application – the user PC, the network conditions, server conditions and application behavior. Whenever a problem crops up, IT and the help desk can now pinpoint the actual problem root cause much faster. In some cases, the problem may even be detected and repaired prior to end-users being affected materially.

Interestingly, both types of shops have basically the same approaches to VPNs now Citrix users on older versions of the technology (1.8, MetaFrame XP) report occasional (well known) printing-related problems, but generally recognize they need to upgrade resolve that residual printing pain (confirmed by CPS 4 users). Today, there are also many shops successfully using a hybrid of both approaches.

To get beyond this level of analysis, it helps to gain a deeper understanding of various customers are trying to get done with these technologies, and where the biggest areas frustrations remain in doing each job. Examples of these jobs include:

  • Secure remote access for mobile employees, teleworkers, day extenders and sales force
  • Controlled secure access for partners, suppliers and customers to certain apps and data
  • Secure access to oursourcers, contractors and consultants
  • Rapid application delivery when custom software changes often
  • Disaster recovery and workforce continuity
  • Regulatory compliance without re-writing packaged and custom applications
  • Reduction of company-issued laptops, leveraging employee-owned PC and DSL connections
  • Delivering applications and meeting SLAs
  • Software hosting and rental, both internally with IT as a Utility service provider and externally as ASP many more (the so-called army knife remain fascinated by the incredibly valuable insights yielded from solution-centered, disruptive – something I be applying more as time goes by to better meet my customer needs – converting more non-consumers into happy customers somewhere along the way.So, what kinds of are you trying to get done? And how well does this model apply to your business and situation?

    I hope this was interesting and useful in some way.

    Carpe Diem!