I always wanted to try fly fishing, but never really understood where to start. On my recent trip to Colorado, I decided to try a guided fly-fishing activity and it was an absolutely thrilling experience. My friend mentioned an interesting point about fly-fishing saying it is only second to golf as an expensive sport. I was surprised at this point and believed the equipment is expensive, but the guided activity made it look so easy and inexpensive.

What did fly fishing help me realize about partnerships? Product development, like fly-fishing, is a high-risk activity where risk to reward is difficult to efficiently manage. As I realized I may or may not have been successful in fly fishing with a high cost, I made the connection that this can also happen in product development. Regardless of the results in any product development, it is important to evaluate the entire journey to see where inefficiencies occurred and where improvements can be made for future product roadmaps. This is all the truer in real-time collaboration networks and the solution to this issue is building the right partnerships, like the expert guide who assisted me in my fly-fishing experience.

As we all know, Unified Communication and Collaboration space is changing rapidly. Cloud architecture enables continuous change and innovation as many of the cloud offers are introducing new features or updates every two to four weeks. That is an exponential shift from when solutions providers had one or two releases yearly. Product managers are consistently challenged to innovate to stay competitive in the market. They are rethinking entire processes in this new paradigm to bring those features and services to market faster. Acceleration is the market differentiator as agility and scalability are essential to be successful.

Collaboration solution providers should have the ability to experiment with their solutions in various configurations, validate them, and if they work, take them to market faster. Years ago a new service could take months or even years to hit the market, but a new approach is required to experiment quickly and bring them to market faster. Success for providers requires the following three elements for this new approach:

  1. Readily available systems and configurations to perform integration
  2. Integration knowledge for rapid experimentation
  3. Automation to perform scalable, end-to-end validation of the new features and services

Systems and configurations for complex communication cost time and money to establish and maintain. Many times, product teams lose valuable time in capital equipment procurement to build the systems so experimentation can start. Instead, companies should look for a partner who can provide and maintain those systems for rapid validation. Traditionally, companies use the idea of building and maintaining in-house, but this concept usually causes delays and lacks agility.

Integration knowledge is all about knowing the pitfalls, workarounds, and small tricks to successfully configure a complex communication system while maintaining quality and reliability. In today’s era of continuous change, it is difficult to maintain on-demand access and knowledge of third-party systems. Partnering with a third party that can provide the systems and expertise to configure and maintain these complex configurations will save invaluable time, bring agility to projects, and accelerate timelines of services and features.

Finally, scalability can only be achieved through automation as it is the most critical function to ensure end-to-end readiness for new features or services. Automation, critical during this time of continuous change because it helps accelerate the validation phase and puts the service or offer at a competitive advantage by speeding up time to market.

By having all three of these elements, one can start to continuously innovate and compete in this dynamically changing collaboration landscape. Furthermore, the epiphany I had from the guided fly-fishing activity is how product development is a high-risk activity where success and cost-efficiency is not guaranteed  With the right partnerships, collaboration solutions providers can lower risk while increasing reward potential, lower costs pushing products to market, and accelerate roadmaps without loss in quality or reliability.

What do you think? What alternative approaches can help bring new products to market faster while maintaining quality and reliability?