Very recently I have been following Jason Fried's posts on 37signals.com. I am impressed by his minimalist thoughts and the whole idea of customers 'growing out of' and 'growing into' your product. Per Jason, there are just a certain simple features that customers really want and a product company should strive to be the best at those features. But beyond these features, your customers will always have some desires and will keep asking for more features. One should learn to say no to such demands and crowd the Product with features that only a few of your customers will actually use. These frills not only hamper the performance of the product technically, but also make the Product manufacturer waste a lot of effort in the form of product support and other allied activities. This seems to have been working for folks at 37signals.com and many more such companies (SFDC, Flip Video recorders etc.)
I then started thinking of this philosophy in the context of Indian IT companies. How could we go bare and minimal? How could we leverage the stance of simple and minimalist products taken by some of the product Cos. That is when I realised that we couldn't. Simply because we are in the business of complexity. We are here because our customers buy products (ERP / CRM suits which are very very complex) and then ask us to further customize them to meet their desires. With whatever implementations I have done till now, I have realised that no company utilises more than 50% of a product features, yet they want some modifications, bolt-ons to that product to meet their needs. That means the product already comes with a 50% flab. The product company has tried to put in as many features but our customer still wants more.
Our sales therefore is driven by rosy dreams shown to the client. Our requirement compliance sheets are full of compliance's and we can get the products to do anything. Sales pitches are full of 'we can do all this with a little bit of customization'. The customer never thinks about why the feature did not come with the product itself? I don't see (netiher do I want to see) a way out of this as complexity and desires seem to be earning me my daily bread!