Thursday, December 11, 2014

Put your business in beta

Do you want your organisation to succeed?  Do you want your company to survive the constant digital wave of transformation?
For quite a few years now I've been steadily preaching the mantra "test and learn" (in reality its a kinder and more palatable way of saying "change or die"), which in some sort of simple Darwinian way highlights to my consulting clients some key points:
  1. It is OK to make mistakes
  2. It is fine to experiment on a regular basis
  3. You need to measure what works
  4. You have to ignore what doesn't
This is typified by a business that sees the advantage of releasing functionality and features in ways that make a difference, whilst setting user expectations that things will change. In other words, a business needs to embrace a Beta delivery approach.

Beta, named after the second letter of the Greek alphabet, is typically the software release that is complete in functionality... but may still have significant bugs or issues. However, it is also usually the first accepted release version that can be presented to a limited set of users or customers.

But why do organisations succeed when they adopt Beta releases? (Especially when compared with the professional and stable delivery of a considered and considerably tested set of functionality.)
Perhaps it is because a public Beta release gives a lot of quick and useful feedback on what does and doesn't work for your target audience. Perhaps it is because those companies that are prepared to take the risk of an online beta release are also more likely to be innovative. And perhaps it is because any organisation that can even consider  Beta release better understands the digital landscape and the possible ways of finding success in the modern economy.

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