How do you make a big deal of not very much?
In this month’s blog we talk about the benefits and complexities of adopting a ‘continuous improvement’ mindset in a market that thrives on big announcements.
Evolution or revolution?
Change and progress can be found in two particular forms. The first of these is revolutionary. We’ve seen a few examples of this in the world of technology over the decades (and centuries); the lightbulb, the combustion engine, the microchip, the internet, the smartphone. Whilst they inevitably build on the science and progress of those that have gone before, they tend to represent something entirely new – a leap forward that is not just profound in what is achieved, but in the paradigm shift it resultantly brings about.
And then on the other hand, you have incremental change. Incremental change will generally follow from revolutionary change, and gradually push the boundaries of what can be achieved with it. One easy example is the car – we’ve been refining the combustion engine for decades, and only very recently thought to fundamentally re-approach how personal transport might work. The other clear example is the microchip: microchip evolution has really been a process of ongoing refinement and improvement over the years – the fundamental concept has remained the same – and it’s only now we’re starting to reach the physical limits of that refinement. In the meantime though, the result of that refinement process has been a modern-day product that is a million miles from where it once started, even though it’s really not that different at all (how many of our readers were actually around to see the days when a computer filled a room?).
The thing is, we tend to view revolutionary change as the more ‘meaningful’ form of change, with incremental change languishing behind in terms of how beneficial and significant it is perceived to be. And this impacts the way technology is marketed to a massive degree. Look at the world of smartphones – there have been only a few big leaps in what they can do and how they do it; ultimately, the changes have been very much incremental. Despite this though, each brand launches something brand-new and shiny every year, as if the product is an entirely revolutionary contribution to the market. It’s an approach that plays on our desire for novelty, excitement and ‘revolution’.
But the truth is, a journey of a thousand miles is made up of a million steps. And it doesn’t always need to be undertaken with dramatic fanfare.
The Bridge Technologies Philosophy of Continuous Improvement
It’s this philosophy we hold at Bridge Technologies. Take for example the VB330 (which covers wider broadcast network monitoring) and the VB440 (which operates centrally in the field of production) still maintain the same product names from when we launched them in 2012 and 2017 respectively.
But are they the same product as they were seventeen years ago? Not even close! Their capacity, performance, usability and functionality are all dramatically improved.
Sure, we add on new version numbers every so often – just to keep track. But what we absolutely avoid is repackaging tiny changes in a brand new box and making grand product announcements. We just don’t think it helps anybody – we don’t want to squeeze artificial purchases out of the market on the basis of smoke and mirrors, we want to ensure that we are constantly delivering the best product and service to our clients on an ongoing basis – which is embedded in our commitment to provide ongoing version upgrades to our existing client base. We’re not against revolutionary change – when it’s real. But in the meantime, we focus our daily efforts on continuous improvement of what we have (because what we have is actually just about as revolutionary now as it was all those years ago).
The progress our increments have brought
Some of our ‘incremental’ improvements are tangible enough for us to make a little bit of a fuss about – it’s not like we’re entirely against announcing our efforts to the press and industry (you only need to look at our awards cabinet to know that we occasionally like to show-off our new developments). It’s just that we don’t repackage them in a whole new product every year or so, just so we have something ‘exciting’ to show.
These include some of our more recent developments, such as a revolutionary approach to HDR monitoring that can be undertaken even through a browser with only SDR output. Or alternatively, advanced audio monitoring capabilities which allow for browser-based stereo downmix monitoring of 7.1 audio formats, along with a remarkable range of data visualisation. Then there’s the constant extension to format capabilities that we add on a regular basis; JPEG XS analysis, closed caption and packet analysis. Not to mention our constant mission to expand capacity – with the VB330 having seen a ten-fold increase in the number of channels it can now handle.
And finally of course, there’s the way we’ve developed our code to stretch and harmonise across embedded, appliance and software-based solutions – providing maximum flexibility to our customers and the particular context of their operations.
These are all things we can ‘announce’ without the need to launch yet a new product. Other improvements though are ones you couldn’t even put a name to – but which have a fundamental impact on stability and user experience. Our remarkable development team invests their efforts on these elements on a day-by-day basis.
How to market the unremarkably remarkable?
But this all leads us to the question that we kicked off with: How do you make a big deal of not very much (even though actually, that ‘not very much’ is really pretty significant…). For a market that is geared around bombastic messaging, competitive statements of grandeur, and a philosophy of newer, bigger, better – how do you communicate to a market that your product is growing, evolving and improving incrementally, month-by-month, in ways that are imperceptible and not worthy of announcement on their own, but which put together speak to a product that delivers market-leading quality, and will continue to stay at the forefront of technology by virtue of its incremental improvement approach?
It’s a tricky one. We understand the temptation of other companies to repackage, relaunch – to give the impression of ‘revolution’ even when not much has changed. In essence, to make a fanfare out of not very much. It’s a good way of staying front-and-centre in the attentions of your audience.
But we’ve decided that we’ll let the outcomes of our incremental improvement approach speak for themselves. Our existing clients know – and hopefully our future clients will come to know – that when they purchase a Bridge Technologies product, they are purchasing something that leads in the market by virtue of the fact that it is built on a revolutionary understanding of monitoring, and has since been tweaked to absolutely maximise the potential, stability and usability of the technology. A product both expanded and refined to a point that gets ever-closer to perfect.