Is Speed to Market the Key to Success?

 In Product Development

Speed to market for new products and services gets a lot of attention and acceleration of the development cycle is often a top priority.  However, while early market entry often offers a first-mover advantage, I would argue that being “fast” or “first” in no way assures success.

When the focus turns to accelerating cycle time, it’s a good idea to take a step back to examine your company’s overall product strategy and what being “fast” means in that context. Does your company have a track record at being first to market or does your firm prefer to reap the benefits of being a “fast-follower”? I have seen plenty of companies who think they are too slow at development when in fact they are rapid implementers but too slow at deciding what to develop. Regardless of the strategy, the fundamental question is always the same: “Is your product hitting the market at the right time?”  If it is, customers will be ready to buy and sales cycles will be as short as they can realistically be for the product or service being sold.  If not, then sales cycles will be longer and more expensive and I have found that delays in the sales cycle can be more catastrophic than delays in the development cycle. Rapid market adoption is rarely articulated as a priority for developers but is every bit as important as a required feature request.

So, is the focus on “faster” misplaced?  The short answer is probably not – as long as you have defined “fast” in the context of your own firm.  If you keep your finger on the pulse of the markets you serve and maintain a real-time understanding of your customers’ needs, your competitors will find your speed and accuracy hard to beat!

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