Opportunity Costs

This, to the best of my recollection, was an actual objection I recently faced when discussing the future of a product with its manager.

“We can’t afford to radically improve [our product]. If we do, the customers we have now might decided that, since they’ll have to transition to the new version, they might as well transition to a competitor’s product.”

At the time I just stared at this person, absolutely dumbfounded. This notion is so foreign to me that, uncharacteristically, I did not argue the point.

After some consideration, I have formulated a response, which I give you now as food for thought.

You should assume that your customers are constantly evaluating alternatives to your product. If you don’t have a new offering, if you’re not setting pace, if you’re not constantly improving, if you’re not always getting a little bit better at solving their problems, you can be damn sure that their short list of solutions to replace your product won’t include your product. Not giving them a radically improved product to transition to is giving them no choice but to transition to a competitor.