Recently we have been asking questions. The kind of questions that get to heart of our existence: why are we here, what is the value of our existence, how should we be?
I am not really talking about Descartes style existence, but more of the shopping cart style existence. What is it that our customers or potential customers need and what really motivates them to do something about it and pay for a product like Vinsight.
What have we been doing?
We have been calling prospective customers and asking them variations of a simple question: what is giving you grief when you are trying to run your part of your wine business? Essentially people are out there every day, week, month running up against parts of their job that are difficult, unproductive, or simply lacking the necessary tools to get things done. Those jobs get neglected, done poorly, or consume too much resource.
Why have we been doing it?
Over the years in previous iterations of our business we have built some great features that have only benefited one or two people, and even the more popular features have been hard to quantify. Firstly, in this world of limited resources we need to make sure we are allocating them wisely, and this is even more so when that resource is time.
So first up, I for one have vowed to never build another feature that (enough) people don’t want or need. Secondly, we want to be successful and this means our product has to help our customers to be more successful. So, the more impediments to making and selling great wine that we can remove, then the better for everyone.
What have we found?
One of the first findings was the difficultly of sharing data. Most people within a company rely on data from other people both inside and outside the company. People we spoke to would often receive an email or a report or if they were lucky an electronic copy of data they needed to do their part of the job. Then in turn provide similar data onto the next person in the chain.
The worst bits about this were:
a) The data often had to be re-entered in the next step manually (copy and paste if you were lucky),
b) Often times within a company, input data for one job resided in a system that the person doing the job did not have access to : eg wines that would be ready for sales in the coming months reside in the wine production system that the sales manager did not have access to. This leads to the wine department being the reporting clerks for the other areas of the business.
What have we been doing about it?
We have a bunch of ideas about lowering the barriers of data flow inside and outside Vinsight and between roles. Somethings that we have already done in this area are:
1) We built our API first. An Application Programming Interface (API) is the way other programs can interact with each other and share data. We realised early on that we did not want to be all things to all people, and that we wanted to do fewer things but do them better. A comprehensive API is our way to help you do the things that we don’t do.
2) We have started making it easier to import data into Vinsight.
3) We are listening to what other programs and services our customers are using and where appropriate, integrating with those. Our first example is our Xero Integration.
4) We are looking at other ways to help you share your data with your business partners and customers. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this.
Keep an eye out for future blogs about other major issues we uncover in trying to manage a successful wine business.