Today I went to the annual Service Management Expo which was held in the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham (the NEC). This is the second time I’ve gone, again with my boss, to check out our competition and get a feel for how the market is changing. It’s nice to see what’s out there, what’s new and where we fit into things – it gives me perspectives and ideas that I just cannot get from sitting and researching behind a computer screen.
The industry, like any other, is smart. It adapts, morphs and constantly pushes and innovates by creating more features and options. These features come at a cost; for the developing teams in terms of hours and other resources, and then to the customer as they purchase it; pushing up the initial and ongoing costs of the software.
There are always new entrants into the field and these are now web-based, look really promising and match our thinking. The industry is pushing HTML5 apps and the cloud in a big way. I have my reservations of cloud storage, I always prefer owning my content and I can understand why customers are hesitant about migrating to the cloud. I saw a demonstration today where the presenter could dip into live systems from a sitemap list and view live installations at will. Imagine if he accidentally saved his password using Chrome or similar – disastrous.
Thankfully we are keeping up with the innovation game and know where we want to go with the software in the next couple of years. There was nothing there we’d not considered or hadn’t thought about before, so there was nothing so shocking or interesting for us this time. I still maintain that it’s important keep up with your competitors through innovation, and I pushed for our apprentice to go and visit it and get a feel for the industry he’s in. He came back with some ideas, some of the features he thought our competitors lacked and saw gaps in the software that he never saw before.
One day, when this business grows enough, we hope to present at the SME, but for now we need to continue developing the features we’re going to add and concentrate on that at a later date.