Friday, July 6, 2007

Beta participation? Why?

Tech vendors and manufacturers are always looking for beta testers. Specially companies that are perceived as innovators, and they consider innovation as a competitive advantage. e.g. Cisco, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle....

Beta testers are regular customers (or users) that try out products and features for free, and give feedback to the manufacturer in order to get a better product. The interesting thing is that both parties benefit from the symbiotic relationship: the vendor gets feedback from a real and un-biased customer, while the customer gets to have a direct and closer relationship with the vendor that can lead to free products, deep discount and even voice in the direction of the product.

Sometimes, when we think about beta programs, we tend to think of it as us being users, and wanting to see how the latest and greatest is. Take for example Windows Vista. Some people got a chance to enrol in the program, and had a chance to get a first look of vista. Others tried GMail for several months, before it became available as a full blown supported version. With enterprise level products, the coolness of a product does not produce any benefit. Real benefits come from, getting closer to the vendor, having a voting voice in new product functionalities, and gaining power over the vendor (reducing the barriers of entry)...

No comments: