Enterprise or Consumer

As I’ve been pondering what to do next with my career, I’ve often thought about crossing into the consumer space as opposed to the B2B space that I’ve done for most of my career.

Of course you see the dramatic growth of companies like Dropbox, Zynga, Facebook and others and consumer looks really, really exciting.

But, I also think the recent situation at Netflix should serve as a warning – not only to would be executives such as myself but also to investors.

The Netflix executive team is highly experienced, very smart and have built an amazing company over many years. They cannot be accused of being young and inexperienced, this is not their first rodeo and yet even with such an experienced team, it appears there may have been some mid-judgement.

In my opinion, this shows what a fine line there is between hero and goat in consumer driven businesses. Groupon….darling a few months ago, to goat and maybe back to darling again? Zynga…..darling and yet, their latest financial results had everyone wondering if the company was losing its shine. Facebook, goes from strength to strength and yet, how many times has Facebook upset its users – having to backtrack on multiple ocassions.

If you were to think about the Enterprise (B2B) space; I think we’d all agree that the manner in which some enterprise companies treat their customers would mean that they deserve to be out of business a long time ago. Horrible support or forcing customers to purchase more than they need because of leverage that they have on other products or trying to catch customers out through the use of complex contractual language or price hikes that come out of nowhere.

Anyhow, the only point that I’m trying to make is that historically enterprise companies grow slower but also have greater sustainability due to “customer lock in”.

But, I believe that will change. I believe that the consumerization of IT will mean that enterprise customers will have choices and will be able to switch providers much easier than in the past. This also unlocks the door for new, innovative enterprise suppliers to grow much faster than they have historically

And I believe that enterprise suppliers need to hold themselves to a higher standard than they have in the past. They need to hold themselves to a “consumer-like” standard where they need to think that customers are free to stop using their service at any time and they have to deliver value every day.

So, I’m sure I will stay in the Enterprise space but, whatever I do, you can be sure that the customer and customer satisfaction will be front and center.

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