Pierre Diennet, Lotame’s eccentric Director of Product Innovation, has authored the following cheeky parable comparing Data Quality to making difficult business decisions. What’s a parable, you ask? Well, A parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters. A parable is a type of analogy.
Let’s say there is a business decision you have to make with regard to volume versus quality. You can decide to make a lower quality product and in exchange you will have more of that product to sell. Or you can decide to make a higher quality product but you will have less of it to sell.
The first three questions you will want to ask are:
In a marketplace where the price for the higher quality product is considerably better than the lower quality product, the decision is easy. You want to make the higher quality product. But in a marketplace where the price for both products is the same, it makes no sense to invest in the better product.
What if you know that, in X years, the price for the low quality product is going to precipitously drop out and that the only money that will be left to be made will be in selling the high quality product. Doesn’t it make sense to, at some point, pivot towards the higher quality product to get out ahead of that inevitability. The only real question left would be “When?” When do you, as a business owner decide to start to make the switch?
Do you wait for the business trend to take a hold and then make the move? If you do this, you risk having one really bad batch of business while you catch up.
Or do you stick your neck out and be one of the first to market with the high quality product? If you do this you risk having a mediocre or even bad balance sheet for X years while you wait for the market to shift.
You’re stuck really. You have to look out for your business and there is this rock and there is this hard place.
Your customers start asking you for the higher quality product and they start paying even just a little bit more for the higher quality product. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering. Even the smallest increase in the price they are willing to pay could be the nudge that you as the provider need in order to make the move toward higher quality.
Then, the dominoes start to fall. You make the move towards quality. Your competitors notice and specifically your competitor’s customers start to notice and eventually the whole market starts to shift. You win because you were one of the first to bring focus to quality and your customers win because now, the quality of products throughout the ecosystem is lifted.
So, to summarize, if you are product provider in a market place for which there is no price driver for raising the quality of your product but there is an imminent market shift coming that will force you to raise the quality of your product at some undefined time, the only thing you can do is ask your customers to 1) start advocating for that higher quality product in the market and 2) be willing to pay just that little bit more for it when it arrives.
Wink. Wink Wink. Nudge.
Pierre Diennet is Lotame’s Director of Product Innovation.