This is a technical whitepaper I authored while at Ubicom. In addition to authoring the paper, I designed the benchmark, ran the tests, and did graphic design and layout for the paper. Tools used were Ixia IxChariot, MS Excel, MS Word, and other tools. OPScore Whitepaper
Are you learning about Agile software methods, but aren’t sure how to apply them to global software? This article explains how to do globalization in an organization using Scrum as a methodology.
The primary activities of software globalization are internationalization, localization, and testing. We will describe how each activity maps to the Scrum process.
Software Internationalization (I18n)
Software internationalization is the process of architecting and writing software so it will function properly in multiple countries. It involves designing software in a modular fashion so new countries can be easily supported by swapping out language packs and software libraries, rather than rewriting lots of code. This is a primary engineering task, and is well-suited to being done with Scrum. Requirements from international customers tend to change rapidly, so using Scrum to address these requirements in an agile fashion is a great idea.
This is functional testing that is specific to the internationalization process. This verifies that generic features can be used by international customers, and also verifies features that are specific to certain international market segments. Continue reading →
Data on 3G subscribers is from Mary Meeker’s ‘Internet Trends 2010′ presentation from Morgan Stanley. Created using Tableau Public visualization software.
What can we learn from these charts? First, let’s look at ARPU growth. It seems there is fairly broad pressure on ARPU across the board. The big players, however, are holding their own around 0% change in ARPU YoY. The highest ARPU is concentrated among US and European service providers. Note that AT&T’s wireline business is listed separately from the wireless business. The greatest drop in ARPU last year was felt by the smaller regional players in Asia and India.
Now let’s look at market cap for service providers versus blended ARPU and number of subscribers. It is interesting to see that firms with the highest market cap are placed along a line that maximizes either ARPU or number of subscribers. The small players in the previous chart likewise show up with low market cap, ARPU, and subscribers. They clearly have a long way to go to reach the profitable horizon of the big players.
Why is this important? Adapting a product for international markets requires checking your assumptions about the current product definition. If you know why you are doing something today for your current market, it will be easier to check if that will still be true in the new market. This way, the internationalization team will be able to adapt the existing product to the new market in a systematic way. Having a process for internationalizing a product saves both time and cost.
How do you define your current market segments? How do you group customers? By industry, sector, geography, job title, age? What are the unique challenges faced by each segment?
A use case is a specific way that customers get value from your product. Why do your current customers use your product? What problems are they trying to solve? Key use cases should be fully documented, including steps the customer takes to complete the use case. Many use cases are specific to a particular segment. Continue reading →
There are only two fields where it is legitimate to prove that something is true: law andmathematics. True scientific fields can legitimately prove that a categorical statement is not true, but should never attempt to prove a universal positive statement.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb discusses this at great length in his new book The Black Swan.
What is the point of thinking of things if we cannot prove that our ideas are true? Because ideas are useful. Science seeks not to prove things, but rather to build useful models.Models, such as the idea of the atom, are useful because they correctly predict observations. As we adopt new models and cast aside our old ones, the scope of observations we can predict increase. What matters is not the individual conclusions, but rather the method.
This is also true in the world of business. The received knowledge of market segments, product strategies, business models, etc can be limiting. If we apply some rigor to the problem, we may be able to tease out some insights that were not obvious before.
If we ignore our current assumptions and ask questions like:
Why do we group customers together the way we do currently?
Are there profitable segments hidden inside of submarkets or segment we have been serving more generically?
Could a particular product offering be split or combined with other offering to better address needs?
Is there a different distribution method that may be better suited to a submarket, promoting it to a full segment?
A personal pet peeve of mine is that many people in the technology business do not have mastery of even the basics of marketing theory.
I still have not met a technology marketing person that could correctly tell me the difference between a segment and a submarket.
Here are my definitions of the two terms:
submarket: a distinct group of customers
market segment: a group of customers that may be addressed by the same marketing mix
marketing mix: an offering to the market composed of a product or service and its associated price, promotion methods, and method of distribution
We start our market segmentation above by simply listing the different submarkets in columns. Any definition for submarkets are fine, as long as the members of each submarket are distinct from those in another. Next, we list the range of product or service attributes that we may want to offer. Then we populate the table by noting what attributes are applicable to each submarket. What we discover is that often certain product attributes are applicable to multiple submarkets! Submarkets that may be addressed in by the same product attributes are what we call segments. We can assign a name to a segment that encompasses each its submarkets.
Most often what happens is when I ask someone what a segment is, they recite a list of submarkets. When I ask them why those are segments versus submarkets, they say “everyone knows those are segments”. This can limit one’s thinking and prevent insights into the right marketing mix for the market.
I’ll discuss some ways to use segmentation to generate new ideas in later posts.