Subject: Re: Support as insurance
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 14:47:45 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Bob" == Bob Young <> writes:

    >> >>>>> "Bob" == Bob Young <> writes:

    Bob> Customers want solutions.  They don't want source code,

and continues

    Bob> Just to be very clear here: my point is that customers don't
    Bob> want "features".  They do want the "benefits" those features
    Bob> provide.  But the features themselves are uninteresting to
    Bob> most customers.

This is not a distinction that is easy to make in practice.  In
particular, it varies from customer to customer.  The point is,
features _as such_ _are_ benefits to users.  A feature has "option
value", which basically amounts to the "upside risk" that the customer
might discover a benefit to that feature in the future.  But customers
differ in the value they assign to that option.

This point is important, because you could argue that the whole point
of Leviathan software like Microsoft Word is that there are _so_ many
features that customers believe the total option value must be
high.  And because it means you have to account for the possibility
that customer needs will change, either as the composition of the
population changes or as the customers themselves do.

And sometimes a feature, eg open source, is considered an explicit
benefit, that is an end in itself, by certain segments of the market.

So to the extent that your "feature" vs. "benefit" distinction helps
vendors to focus on what the customer wants, it's very useful and
important.  But it's the customer-oriented focus, and not
classification of different "deliverables" as "features" or "benefits"
that is important.

I prefer to ask the question:  "how are my customers being served?" 
rather than:  "what customer benefits do I provide?"

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