“At Wizdom we focus a lot on telling potential customers, independent analysts and other stakeholders, how we regularly and frequently release new versions of Wizdom. The reason we do this is that we believe that regular and frequent releases directly illustrate maturity of the vendor.”
Over the past 18 months a lot of new Intranet software vendors have surfaced. This is great and illustrates the need for these types of products in a market where Wizdom has been present for more than 6 years. However, the majority of discussions and analysis by organizations looking to implement an Intranet product and vendor, is centered around looking at product features – the “How can our product help you” – because these are easy to see and evaluate.
But the maturity of a vendor is much harder to see, and maturity is even more important than features. This is because the customer is trusting the vendor with their future solution, not just now, but also in the future. They are trusting the vendor to make sure that the product and thus the customer’s solution is continually evolving to meet new demands from the customer’s users as the world and the organization moves forward. And if the vendor does not have the maturity to make it in the tough competitive market space, the customer is left with a dead solution, which they cannot maintain themselves and the vendor cannot or will not either.
So – ok, vendor maturity is really important, but why do we believe that frequent releases are clear sign of vendor maturity?
Firstly, every new release indicates a reflection by the vendor based on customer feedback and market trends. So frequent releases mean that not only does the vendor reflect, learn and adjust rapidly, but the vendor is also committed to listening, analyzing and learning from their customers’ feedback and the market trends.
Secondly, it takes time and effort to adjust a product and to package and support a new release. So, making regular frequent releases is basically the vendor “putting their money where their mouth is” or as we in Wizdom would say “The proof is in the pudding”. Reversely an immature vendor can fairly easily patch together a product that looks good on the surface and provides relevant features, but will be hard pressed to come up with the frequent releases that make sure that the value is also obtained when the product meets real world scenarios and needs of customers.
And finally, former President of the Microsoft Windows Division, Steven Sinofsky named his blog “Learning by Shipping”. This is an extremely apt concept and another reason why every software release increases maturity. You learn a little from building new features in a release. You learn a lot every time you ship the release. So, a vendor that does frequent releases is learning more and faster than a vendor that does not.