The Data Jungle - Product Research

He’s making a list and checking it twice… Does this sound like you? The world of IT is full of platforms and fantastic product offerings. Zoodata regularly undertakes product research, not only for clients, but also for our own purposes. As with making any purchase in an unfamiliar domain it can be a confusing and often frustrating exercise. We would like to share some tips on how we undertake product research and what we look for before making any decision.

Where do I start?

First we recommend making a list of requirements, both immediate and into the future to support business growth. Then categorise each feature as Must Have, Should Have and Could Have. Next conduct market research (or ask someone else like Zoodata to do it for you) to determine if there is already a product matching 80% of your requirements. Continuing with last month’s horsey analogy, buying a “half trained” work horse, which with a bit of extra and work specific training will be highly suitable for your situation, will almost certainly prove a more cost-effective solution than starting from scratch.

No doubt this research exercise will identify several likely horses, some of which promise amazing results for an incredible price. However, if you have complex requirements and the price of your chosen product looks too good to be true, then it may well be. Dig deeper and find out if there are hidden costs or disadvantages for your organisation in the future:

  • Who owns the data – will your chosen software decide to share it with other? (Where have we heard that before?) How secure is it?

  • What happens to this data, and how can you use it to add value to your business?

  • Do you own the Intellectual Property for any features you pay to have developed for your own business use?

  • What happens to old data – do you need to use it regularly; can you access it easily or is there a cost / time factor involved to retrieve it?

  • What happens if you decide to discontinue the service -  how easy is it going to be to retrieve all your historical data?

  • Are you able to connect this software to your existing systems or other 3rd party software you may wish to implement in your business?

  • If you want to add more features or integrations later does this software have an API and a Software Development Kit (SDK) your developers can access and use easily?

Where to look?
Specialised software forums will often contain user reviews, and you may be able to contact other users of the system to ask about their experience in using the software. You should ask not just about the software, but what level and quality of after sales support the vendor offers. End users will usually let people know if the support is not up to standard!

Unfortunately, we learnt this the hard way, when Sushi Digital killed our website earlier this year. Stupidly, instead of doing our own due diligence we trusted our marketing company to have done theirs. Serves us right I suppose, and the only positive was realising why our customers tell us our support is second to none.

What are the likely pitfalls?
We meet many managers who want one system which does everything. Whilst this sounds great in theory, particularly paying support costs to one company, it isn’t something we recommend. Huge systems usually become unwieldy, difficult to support because of complicated connections within it, and therefore often very expensive to develop new features.

Zoodata is a veteran in the IT industry, having seen many fashions come and go since we began operating in 1996. Being vendor neutral we recommend our clients look for compatible best of breed systems to suit their needs.

If it’s all too much and you don’t have time to do your own research to implement your 2019 business systems improvements, Zoodata can help. Because we are vendor neutral, our focus is on satisfying your needs. Our development background also means we can ask all the technical questions you may not know about. It won’t take us long to sniff out a rat!

Feel free to contact us for a no obligation chat: info@zoodata.com.au or phone: 9485 0725.