Linkedin’s Radical Decision
I was postponing the publication of this post in the hopes of seeing the decision of removing the Product and Services page levied. Not going to happen. This post questions the rational of this decision and attempts to capture the real reasons.
We, the users, have become quite accustomed to add-ons/removals in the app world. It may happen that we ask ourselves « why ». Why did « they » remove this one functionality that I found useful ? Why did « they » replace this one functionality with something I have no use for ? We moan and groan for a short while then life goes on. Our frustration disappears…until the next upgrade.
We are hooked on web applications therefore we are hooked to upgrades.
This said, are we so hooked that we let start-ups decide on what our user experience should be ? Don’t think so. We appreciate a beautiful web UI, useful and simple features, easy to decrypt, etc.. But do our preferences hold their weight in the start-up world? Are they taken into consideration? In the case of Linkedin, it’s safe to say that they are not, considering the huge wave of grievances following the announcement.
Why are our preferences not considered like in the ol’ days where marketers would survey their customers prior to launching a new or improved product? The answer to that: do you know many professional networking sites that boast 277 millions users ? Linkedin is in a safe haven because they know they have the leading advantage and will so for a long, very long time. I mean really, let’s imagine a second that a new competitor comes along with differentiating features and a beautiful UI, who in their right mind will want to switch? Who will want to reload their profiles and ask their 100, 500 or 1000 contacts to switch and join in on the ride? Linkedin does not feel the pressure of being better than… a non existing competitor! So why survey customers on their preferences? Why ask them their opinion on proposed changes? Why be transparent?
let’s imagine that a new competitor comes along with differentiating features, who in their right mind will want to switch and ask their 100, 500 or 1000 contacts to switch and join in on the ride? Linkedin will keep the leading advantage for a long, very long, time.
Let us not fool ourselves. It is not only virtual monopolies that fail to survey their markets but start-ups in general. Explanation. In the app world, beta testing is the new survey method less reliability. Therein lies the rub: those testing the application are often technophiles themselves or start-up employees and cannot speak on behalf of the entire user base. As a result, it may produce useless features for the larger base and generation frustration. iPhone upgrades are a crying example. Si why do beta testing? The objective is to inflate the user base the fastest way possible to yield potential investments. And that’s easy to do with influential technophiles that invite their networks to try and voila, in minutes thousands, in hours hundreds of thousands in weeks, millions.
Beta testing is today’s survey method, less the reliability.
And yet, this is where the real work should start! Making the app incredibly useful and awesome to convert first-timers into regular users. Isn’t this the ultimate goal of any business? Yet, more often than not, they never experience the immense satisfaction of profitability, cash flow, reinvesting profit into the company, as exits are their main goal. Not surprisingly, crowdsourcing and collaborative consumption are on the rise (expected to double in the next 12 months) because it is the “crowd” that decides what is good for them, and may well become the next business model to watch for. What does one have to do with the latter? Still too early to tell but I wouldn’t dismiss it all together. After all, this is what many thought of Facebook….