Channel Marker

Aug 2 2007   7:55AM GMT

Who should have a say in product development?

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

I was fascinated to learn during a Breakaway panel discussion Wednesday (during CompTIA’s Las Vegas conference) that managed service tech company Autotask had a college intern sit on on the design meetings for a recent upgrade to help keep the company on point.

Autotask CEO Bob Godgart relates this individual shared some pretty strong opinions that altered radically the company’s interface direction.

Likewise, IBM Software channel exec Kevin Hopper reveals that while one of its teams was debating recently how to set up a formal feedback mechanism for a new product, one engineer took matters into his own hands, created a wiki and incited comments before there could even be a formal planning meeting.

Which got me to thinking about two things. First, how closely are VARs including their customers in the design of repeatable solutions?

Isn’t that  the holy grail or would you rather have everything be one off? And second, why aren’t more vendors creating better feedback mechanisms for their channel partners? Have you heard of good ones?

The simple fact is that the customer (in this case both the VAR and the end user) are usually solicited for their thoughts AFTER stuff is down the path, so to speak. But I get the sense the tech-consuming public’s patience for this is at an end. The book “Wikinomics” (longer title but you should be able to find) is a great discussion about this. And, by the way, the book was written on a wiki.

Business journalist Heather Clancy has been covering the high-tech channel for close to 18 years. She can be reached at

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