Subject: Re: Larry Ellison on FSBs
From: Brian Behlendorf <brian@collab.net>
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2006 20:29:16 -0700 (PDT)

On Tue, 25 Apr 2006, Thomas Lord wrote:
> For example, does "listening to customers" mean doing what they literally
> say?  Or figuring out what they need before they themselves know?

In the spaces I've had experience, it's extraordinarily difficult to 
convince a customer to spend enough time with you to reveal information 
about what they know they need today, without an implicit commitment to 
give them something in return that very closely matches that need as it 
exists.  Of course, those needs are not static, and you can not 
necessarily predict where those needs will go over the length of time it 
takes for you to implement something.  Worst of all is to tell a customer 
that their problem is not something a tool can or should solve, but a 
combination of an improved or new tool with changes to how they do their 
job would result in something better.  That's offensive to the customer's 
ears, or at the very least implies insensitivity.

None of that is a reason to not "listen to customers".  It does mean, 
though, that your product development decisions should not be entirely 
based on what your customers are telling you today, but should also 
involve a personal vision of where your product should go.  Watching what 
the actual end-users do with your product (one of the least appreciated 
but IMHO most important advantages of the SaaS approach) might provide 
more substantive insights.

 	Brian