Thursday, May 18, 2006

Innovate or Die - KISS

Focus effort on making the product easy to learn for beginners
Not everybody is a seasoned PowerBuilder user, but a great deal of the documentation and samples are written as if they were. People who are new to the product need to be able to establish an early meaningful success with the product in order to form a good first impression. As Kathy Sierra notes:

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Innovate or Die - Culture

Create a culture that supports innovation
Again from Geoffrey Moore, this time on the importance of top management fostering innovation:

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Innovate or Die - Faster

Speed up the development of those innovations
Geoffrey Moore argues that the timing of innovations is also important:

[Product Innovation] is optimal for grabbing share in high-growth markets where the category has been accepted and now it is features and functions that are driving customer preference. Time-to-market is at least as key as design imagination to success with this type.

Sybase's competitors aren’t standing still. In order to remain competitive, the current development cycle needs to be speeded up. As an example, DataWindow.Net 2.0 was just released. However, the functionality it adds (the ability to directly use a DataStore/DataTable) was eclipsed before it was released by the introduction of the BindingSource class in the .Net Framework 2.0 (a more abstract class that isolates .Net data controls from the actual data source). At the current schedules, PowerBuilder 12 will be released with the capability to compile to .Net about the same time that Microsoft will be releasing the next generation of the .Net Framework and Visual Studio which involve significant modifications in the user interface layer. Products that are only up to date with the last (not the current) version of the competing products aren’t competitive.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Innovate or Die - Feedback

Tighten the feedback loop during CTP and beta testing
The originally public 10.5 beta called for two builds with 2½ months (10 weeks) after each for comment. However, beta newsgroup traffic would imply that there was only significant input for 3 weeks after each build release. That means that after each build 7 out of the 10 weeks between builds was largely “dead” time which allowed user interest to wane. User input could be focused better if there were more interim releases with fewer new features between builds. That allows the users to focus more on each new feature in turn. One of the key concepts of Extreme Programming (Release Often) is based on this concept:

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Innvoate or Die - Customers

Get customers directly involved in the innovation process
PowerBuilder has almost entirely lost mind-share. In order to re-introduce to a new generation of developers, Sybase should treat it as if it was a new product. When the product was originally being developed PowerSoft used the product internally and also partnered with clients. That gave them the kind of insight into what new features and improvements in existing features were needed. That same kind of insight is missing today. Eric Von Hippel notes: "Research indicates that the major reason for the commercial failure of manufacturer-developed products is poor understanding of users’ needs by manufacturer-innovators." Kathy Sierra also argues that "[w]ithout really talking to users the best you can hope for is to meet their expectations. You won't be able to craft that extra special magic that makes them passionate if you don't talk (and listen) to them." By partnering with key customers, Sybase can gain better knowledge about how the product is currently being used and where the areas for improvement are at. Eric Von Hippel notes that:

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Innovate or Die - Users

Implement innovation that address the needs of “on-the-edge” users
Rather than focus on issues that have a high degree of popularity (requested often), focus on those that your “lead user” indicate are show stoppers for “on-the-edge” development. Those are the issues that the rest of your user base will eventually encounter. Eric Von Hippel notes:

Friday, May 12, 2006

Innovate or Die - Focus

Focus on distinctive innovation
Sybase has (to me) a dizzying array of products, and it seems like every time I turn around they're announcing some new product. Drill down through the the "Products and Solutions" section of their web site and you'll find 23 different products listed under "Information Management". Click on "Development and Integration" and you'll find 15. There's another 13 under the "Mobile and Wireless Applications" section. That's not 50+ products total, there's some duplication across the categories, but it is a lot of products. What it implies to me though, is that Sybase is trying to be "all things to all people" rather than focusing on specific areas in which they can distinguish themselves. Geoffrey Moore notes:

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Innovate or Die - Core

Concentrate on the core
Many of the often discussed enhancements are for improvements to PowerBuilder are not related to differentiating PowerBuilder from other products in the same market niche. It is certainly important to overcome deficiencies (e.g., lack of XP style toolbars and menus). However, addition of other “me-too” features such as Next Generation PowerScript are detrimental to the product overall if they are added at the expense of features such as a Rich Text Edit Style or Web Services as a DataWindow data source. What Sybase needs to focus on as it considers enhancements to PowerBuilder is the "core" rather than "context". Geoffrey Moore defines the difference between core and context this way:

Thursday, May 04, 2006

You’re Invited to the PowerBuilder 10.5 Launch and Learning Event!

The newest version of the market's favorite 4GL RAD tool, PowerBuilder, is now available! This all-time classic has always enabled developers to quickly and easily build the critical data-driven applications they need. Now, it's even better and souped-up with the features you need to accelerate your application development.

Come see for yourself the power behind PowerBuilder 10.5 in a city near you. Dave Fish, Sybase Technical Evangelist, will show you how easy PowerBuilder 10.5 makes application development and cover the newest features, including:

DataWindow TreeView Presentation Style
DataWindow Autosize Height on all DataWindow Bands
DateTime Picker Control
Rich Text Control
BYTE and 28 Digit Decimal Data Type Support
New Icons and Bitmaps
Enhanced Menu and Toolbar Functionality
Enhanced Web Services Support Updated!
Enhanced support for Database Interfaces

You can find out about PowerBuilder 10.5 and its retuned features in the following cities:

New York City, NY: May 18th
Boston, MA: May 19th
Washington D.C: May 22nd
Minneapolis, MN: May 24th
Chicago, IL: May 25th
San Francisco, CA: May 31st
Los Angeles, CA: June 1st
Dallas, TX: June 2nd

Events begin at 11:30 am and conclude by 3:30 pm. Lunch will be served. By attending, you'll be able to obtain a significant discount off of PowerBuilder 10.5 and also be eligible to win one of the iPod Nanos that we're giving away in each city.

These Launch and Learning events are free, but space is limited and registration is required. Learn more about this exciting event and register today!