Investing In People vs. Investing in Products
Talent is one of the critical factors in the success of any enterprise, be it a startup or a large corporation. But then, so are the products. So when it comes to deciding between the two, which one would you choose?
Investing in people
Businesses are not run by robots, at least not at the moment. And until that happens, it’ll be people who will run businesses. The key to investing in people is to start with the most brilliant of the lot and nurture them into professionals with the highest skill set over time. However, to achieve that, the necessary amount of education required is often not provided by the employers.
Managers often overestimate the strength of their team’s capabilities and knowledge. This overestimation results in a ‘knowledge leak’ that cannot be countered with higher IQ among employees as a guarantee to innovation.
The solution to this problem is a sustained focus on employee education. However, this solution is easier said than done as education is an intangible investment, the costs of which can quickly spiral out of control. The situation gets especially grim when the knowledge acquired by the employees is not implemented as expected to deliver desired results.
Investing in products
The old adage says ‘make your product so strong that people will be compelled to buy it’ is no longer applicable. While a weak product with weak marketing is sure to fail, a strong product with weak marketing can fail as easily as a weak product with strong marketing can succeed. In order to counter this, making both the product and marketing strong to ensure that the desired ROI is achieved becomes essential to the success of the organization. Therefore, it becomes imperative that enough attention is paid to the investments that go into product development.
However, in their haste to take the first movers’ advantage, businesses often ignore this fact and roll out the product with some bugs, and then follow it up with a series of improvements. However, if these bugs are too many, then the product will garner a negative review from the market and will die away slowly. Hence, a balanced approach that aims for an acceptable level of bugs in the product must be adopted before roll-out.
Trying to figure out which is more important – product or people – is like asking which is more important for sustenance – air or water. In order to truly succeed, a balance in investments between both people and product is essential. It will enable a business to procure and retain the best talent that can then be applied to develop the product to acceptable marketability levels. Updates are, and will remain an essential part of the product cycle. However, the end result of these updates must reflect the investments applied to both people and products so that the business does not suffer from consumer neglect and can claim its share of the success pie.