RIM e il (duro) confronto con il mercato

Un dipendente anonimo di Research In Motion (RIM), la societa’ che produce il Blackberry, ha scritto una lettera aperta nella quale elenca gli aspetti su cui concentrarsi, imparando dagli errori passati e dalle esperienze positive dei propri concorrenti, ma soprattutto partendo sempre dal cliente. L’articolo e’ disponibile all’indirizzo http://www.bgr.com/2011/06/30/open-letter-to-blackberry-bosses-senior-rim-exec-tells-all-as-company-crumbles-around-him

I punti chiave sono

  1. Focus sull’esperienza dell’utente finale
  2. Reclutare Senior SW Leader e aumentare il potere decisionale dei team
  3. Concentrarsi su un minor numero di progetti
  4. Gli sviluppatori (non le compagnie telefoniche) sono quelli che possono aiutarci oppure distruggerci
  5. Un marketing serio per creare il desiderio negli utenti finali
  6. Non Responsabilità – I canadesi sono troppo bello
  7. Umiltà con un pizzico di paranoia
  8. Democrazia interna: coinvolgere e interagire con i dipendenti

1) Focus sull’esperienza dell’utente finale

Let’s obsess about what is best for the end user. We often make product decisions based on strategic alignment, partner requests or even legal advice — the end user doesn’t care. We simply have to admit that Apple is nailing this and it is one of the reasons they have people lining up overnight at stores around the world, and products sold out for months. These people aren’t hypnotized zombies, they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work. Android has a major weakness — it will always lack the simplicity and elegance that comes with end-to-end device software, middleware and hardware control. We really have a great opportunity to build something new and “uniquely BlackBerry” with the QNX platform.

Solo l’ossessione per l’esperienza dell’utente finale (e quindi non quella della compagnia telefonica o del rivenditore di servizi, che ora, a quanto pare, la fanno da padroni in RIM) porta a realizzare prodotti che il cliente ama usare. Una volta tanto si ammette, dalla concorrenza, che i clienti Apple non sono degli automi manipolati dal marketing della Mela Morsicata, ma persone che hanno semplicemente trovato un prodotto che funziona, e’ facile da usare ed e’ pure bello!

2) Reclutare Senior SW Leader e aumentare il potere decisionale dei team

I’m going to say what everyone is thinking… We need some heavy hitters at RIM when it comes to software management. Teams still aren’t talking together properly, no one is making or can make critical decisions, all the while everyone is working crazy hours and still far behind. We are demotivated. Just look at who our major competitors are: Apple, Google & Microsoft. These are three of the biggest and most talented software companies on the planet. Then take a look at our software leadership teams in terms of what they have delivered and their past experience prior to RIM… It says everything.

Guardando ai concorrenti, si rende conto che, oltre a reclutare sul mercato i migliori talenti, danno un elevato potere decisionale ai team, permettendo cosi’ la crescita dell’azienda e del prodotto.

3) Concentrarsi su un minor numero di progetti

There is a serious need to consolidate our focus to just a handful of projects. Period.
We need to be disciplined here. We can’t afford any more initiatives based on carrier requests to squeeze out slightly more volume. Again, back to point #1, focus on the end users. They are the ones making both consumer & enterprise purchase decisions.
Strategy is often in the things you decide not to do.

“Strategia spesso e’ quello che decidi di non fare“. Se hai una strategia, puoi concentrarti su pochi progetti, quei pochi che migliorano l’esperienza dell’utente e vanno nella direzione di accrescere il valore per il cliente. E’ inutile portare avanti mille progetti disperdendo le forze, con la quasi certezza di raccogliere pochissimo (rispetto allo sforzo effettuato).

4) Gli sviluppatori (non le compagnie telefoniche) sono quelli che possono aiutarci oppure distruggerci

We urgently need to invest like we never have before in becoming developer friendly. The return will be worth every cent. There is no polite way to say this, but it’s true — BlackBerry smartphone apps suck. Even PlayBook, with all its glorious power, looks like a Fisher Price toy with its Adobe AIR/Flash apps.
Developing for BlackBerry is painful, and despite what you’ve been told, things haven’t really changed that much since Jamie Murai’s letter. Our SDK / development platform is like a rundown 1990′s Ford Explorer. Then there’s Apple, which has a shiny new BMW M3… just such a pleasure to drive. Developers want and need quality tools.
If we create great tools, we will see great work. Offer shit tools and we shouldn’t be surprised when we see shit apps.

Il concetto di valore per l’utente finale e’ il piu’ importante. E siccome una parte del valore e’ creata dalle applicazioni, bisogna dare strumenti all’altezza agli sviluppatori! Se forniamo strumenti scarsi (l’autore e’ un po’ piu’ colorito nel linguaggio, e sicuramente rende meglio l’idea) avremo risultati scarsi. Non ci dobbiamo meravigliare. E il confronto Ford Explorer del 99 vs BMW M3 e’ veramente calzante!

Sembra quasi di scoprire l’acqua calda, ma nella realta’ succede proprio cosi’.

5) Un marketing serio per creare il desiderio negli utenti finali

25 million iPad users don’t care that it doesn’t have Flash or true multitasking, so why make that a focus in our campaigns? I’ll answer that for you: it’s because that’s all that differentiates our products and its lazy marketing. I’ve never seen someone buy product B because it has something product A doesn’t have. People buy product B because they want and lust after product B.

Also an important note regarding our marketing: a product’s technical superiority does not equal desire, and therefore sales… How many Linux laptops are getting sold? How did Betamax go? My mother wants an iPad and iPhone because it is simple and appeals to her. Powerful multitasking doesn’t.

Un’altra declinazione del valore del cliente. Ovvero, l’impatto negativo dell’errata percezione del marketing rispetto a quale sia il valore per il cliente (e addirittura quale sia il cliente). La migliore tecnologia non vince per forza. Il compito del marketing deve essere anche quello di creare il desiderio per i punti forti del nostro prodotto. RIM aveva Messenger, ma le campagne di marketing non sono andate nella direzione di aiutare l’utente finale a capire l’importanza di questo strumento.

6) Basso livello di  responsabilità

RIM has a lot of people who underperform but still stay in their roles. No one is accountable. Where is the guy responsible for the 9530 software? Still with us, still running some important software initiative. We will never achieve excellence with this culture. Just because someone may have been a loyal RIM employee for 7 years, it doesn’t mean they are the best Manager / Director / VP for that role. It’s time to change the culture to deliver or move on and get out. We have far too many people in critical roles that fit this description. I can hear the cheers of my fellow employees now.

Ci sono molte persone che occupano un ruolo di responsabilità senza avere anche l’onere delle proprie decisioni. Va bene essere liberi di sbagliare, ma bisogna prendere atto del fatto che bisogna garantire risultati. Altrimenti si viene spostati ad altri incarichi.

7) Umiltà con un pizzico di paranoia

The public’s questions about dual-CEOs are warranted. The partnership is not broken, but on the ground level, it is not efficient. Maybe we need our Eric Schmidt reign period.
Yes, four years ago we beat Microsoft when everyone said Windows Mobile with Direct Push in Exchange would kill us. It didn’t… in fact we grew stronger.
However, overconfidence clouds good decision-making. We missed not boldly reacting to the threat of iPhone when we saw it in January over four years ago. We laughed and said they are trying to put a computer on a phone, that it won’t work. We should have made the QNX-like transition then. We are now 3-4 years too late. That is the painful truth… it was a major strategic oversight and we know who is responsible.
Jim, in referring to our current transition recently said: “No other technology company other than Apple has successfully transitioned their platform. It’s almost never done, and it’s way harder than you realize. This transition is where tech companies go to die.”
To avoid this death, perhaps it is time to seriously consider a new, fresh thinking, experienced CEO. There is no shame in no longer being a CEO. Mike, you could focus on innovation. Jim, you could focus on our carriers/customers… They are our lifeblood.

Se si perde l’umilta’ si rischia di cadere “dalle stelle alle stalle”. “Overconfidence clouds good decision-making”: quando ti accorgi che sei rimasto indietro e’ gia’ troppo tardi, e quindi bisogna sempre avere l’umilta’ di ripartire da cio’ che genera valore per il cliente, e sviluppare di conseguenza il prodotto.

8) Democrazia interna: coinvolgere e interagire con i dipendenti

Reach out to all employees asking them on how we can make RIM better. Encourage input from ground-level teams—without repercussions—to seek out honest feedback and really absorb it.
Lastly, we’re all reading the news and many are extremely nervous, especially when we see people get fired. We need an injection of confidence: share your strategy and ask us for support. The headhunters have already started circling and we are at risk of losing our best people.
Now would be a great time to internally re-brand and re-energize the workplace. For example, rename the company to just “BlackBerry” to signify our new focus on one QNX product line. We should also address issues surrounding making RIM an enjoyable workplace. Some of our offices feel like Soviet-era government workplaces.
The timing is perfect to seriously evaluate at our position and make these major changes. We can do it!

Ultimo ma forse tra gli aspetti piu’ importanti: tutti i dipendenti devono essere coinvolti. E’ l’unico modo per tirare fuori il meglio da ognuno e dal gruppo. Come consulente mi viene in mente la slide della canoa: se tutti remano nella stessa direzione e sono sincronizzati la barca va velocissima; se ognuno fa quello che vuole la barca va piano o addirittura non va!

Mi sembra proprio che questo dipendente RIM abbia elencato temi che sono tipici di moltissime aziende, di tutti i settori.

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