Do We Have Any Competitive Threats?

<rant> Ok, is anyone besides me completely bored by this question, and the inevitable back and forth dialog surrounding it – no matter what the category or industry discussed? No matter what you do, whatever product or service you are representing, there is ALWAYS a competitor. If you believe you don’t have a competitor, then you are completely oblivious to reality, and don’t deserve the funding, the sale, or my time. Even in nascent technologies, the competition may come through “like-technologies” or even the status quo, i.e. doing nothing.

What are customers doing today without your whiz-bang, best-thing-since-sliced-bread technology? They’re getting along just fine without you (for the most part), no matter what benefits you’re hawking. It’s up to you to convince customers of your benefits over what they have in place today.

Now, if we all agree that every product or service has competition, the next step is to stop trying to slap down others over 144 character semi-articulations of answers to your inane questions. Case in point: is Google Docs in combination with Google+ a competitive threat to SharePoint? The question came up at the end of the recent #EIMCHAT on Twitter, and caused me a just a wee amount of hair loss. I said no – not because I think there is not a competitive threat, there, but because I believe the kind of user who would be satisfied by Google Docs and Google+ is not the kind of user who would be interested in SharePoint.

It’s the apples versus oranges argument. And before you go quoting case studies that have shown 2 customers ditching the Microsoft stack to go to Google Docs – please stop. Just stop. Go sit at the counter and have some hot chocolate with the guy who talks about all of the customers jumping from SharePoint and Exchange and going over to Lotus Notes. The two of you should be friends. And leave the rest of us normal people alone.

There’s a difference between competitive features, competitive products, and competitive companies. There may be huge overlaps, and yet they may all serve different needs, different kinds of users. It’s exciting to see an opportunity to slap down somebody’s tweet, but give a guy a few more characters to respond in full. And apply some basic marketing research logic. And don’t be a doofus.

Ooh, look…. I’ve constructed a paper airplane. It flies! And therefore, I am now in competition with United Airlines.#imjustsaying </rant>

Christian Buckley

Christian is the Brand Alliance Director for AvePoint Inc., and a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He hosts the AvePoint Office 365 Hours (#O365hours) and #P2Pnow series, the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) live stream. He is based in Lehi, Utah (Silicon Slopes).

1 Response

  1. Claire says:

    When you say user, do you mean end user? Or the decision maker? Because I agree that the person who ends up buying Google Apps probably has fewer security and architectural requirements than the guy who goes with SharePoint. Butttt there’s probably a lot of overlap between the end users, because the majority of end users in SP use it as a doc collab platform. And G+ is much easier and more appealing to use than is a my site.
    Every successful product will have competitors. Replications? Maybe not. But there will be common value props.

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