Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Market Maturity Framework is Still Important

Stages in a Market Maturity Framework ...

"Way back in 1997, I wrote about a framework we’d been developing, which we called Market Maturity. We had created the framework to help explain why we had to approach teams differently, not depending on what they were developing, but on where their products were in the marketplace.

The framework was a simple four-stage progression:

Stage I: Raw Iron — A focus on getting the technology working
Stage II: Checklist Battles — A focus on getting the right features
Stage III: Productivity Wars — A focus on getting the right experience
Stage IV: Transparency — A focus on integration into bigger experiences
Once we figured this progression out, it became clear that practically every technology followed it. It explained the progression of word processors, automobiles, commercial jets, military weapons, telephones, and anything else man has developed in the last hundred years. Some technologies moved through the progression quickly, others took years.

It was really useful to refer to the framework when talking to clients because, back when we were consulting firm helping with usability research, our pitch would change depending on which stage they were in. We’d talk about identifying important features in Stage II, where we’d talk about shipping sooner (often by eliminating unnecessary features) in Stage I. In Stage III, we’d talk about traditional UCD notions of ease-of-use and ease-of-learning (which, interestingly, don’t become important to talk about until Stage III).

We stopped talking about the framework in the late ’90s because we were doing more web work and we weren’t sure if the framework applied to the web. At the time, we couldn’t see the progression, but we now know that it was because we were stuck in the middle of Stage I and it’s hard to see what’s coming from where you are.

Now, more than ten years later, we’re finding ourselves talking about the framework once again. Time has let us simplify it:

Stage I is now Technology
Stage II is now Features
Stage III is now Experience
Stage IV is now Integration"    (Continued via UIE Brain Sparks)    [Usability Resources]

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