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Hello. I'm Rodney. Welcome to my blog. This blog is all about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) business software systems. Blog posts are largely on the topics of CRM & ERP software selections, implementations and production advice.

 

 

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Innovation By Way of Extending Other Companies Innovation

Piggy Back Innovation

Building a better mousetrap is the goal of many inventors, entrepreneurs, visionaries and successful companies. It often can start with just one step.

That's what Saint Paul, MN-based software company , CodeWeavers, counts on almost every day. Like many innovative software companies, they often don't start from scratch to develop something huge or complex. Instead they take what others have already created and build upon it.

In fact, that's the business model for thousands of Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), including companies that build third party products for IBM's Lotus Notes or add-ons for Microsoft's Exchange, to the ISVs that build modules or join complete ecosystems of other software manufacturers.

What caught my eye this week is CodeWeavers participation in the open source Wine Project to do something unique. They have created CrossOver Games, a software product that will allow Linux and Apple Macintosh users to run the latest edition of the market share leading Windows-based computer game, Civilization V, on computers which run Linux or Apple operating systems. The Wine Project began in order to find ways to port Windows software applications over to Linux and Mac computers and give users more choice. Under Wine, Windows programs run on Linux and Mac operating systems as though they were designed for them. CodeWeavers was founded in 1996 and has been working with Wine since 2002. The company is now one of the main corporate backers of the project. They created their CrossOver products and provide consulting to help users make their Windows applications run on any platform.

Perhaps to some, building an application that allows computer gamers to play a new, popular computer game under the operating system of their choice isn't exactly changing desktop computing or enterprise software as we know it. However, there's more to it than that.

The Civilization game series, now in it's fifth iteration and selling somewhere around 10 million copies since it's release more than a decade ago, is just a computer game from Firaxis Games Inc. It also happens to be one of the most commercially successful games out on the market over the last decade.

And that's why CodeWeavers saw the value in making the highly successful game available on other computing platforms. By creating CrossOver Games 9.2 for use with Civilization V and other Windows games, CodeWeavers' introduced an entire new software line of business. The company is expert in finding these niches, and profiting from them. It may only be a single niche, but it's their niche if no one else is doing it.

Their leadership and business model is directly transferrable, or replicatable, by others. Whether you are a software development company, make widgets or deliver services, it's invaluable to keep your eyes and ears open to the possibilities of a growing or changing marketplace.

For another example, think of the companies that make and sell shaving products. Once a consumer has the razor handle, he can buy replacement blades from other manufacturers. And once a business buys an enterprise software application or a new piece of technology hardware, you can deliver a better mousetrap to make it cheaper, easier or faster to use, configure, deploy or operate than the original device or application provider. Aftermarket automotive parts and accessories makers also do the same thing. They make items that lets people personalize and improve the cars and trucks that they drive, without changing the basic underpinnings.

So what are some IT niches that your company can fill?

Where can you take an existing product from another company, make it better and create a new line of business?

First take a look inward. Are there things that your business or IT team already do internally to make improvements to products you are already using?

That's a business strategy that's worked well at IBM for years, eventually selling products and services that they originally developed internally for their in house use. The technology giant discovered long ago that if it works for them, it can also work for their customers.

Sometimes fixes, add-ons or third party products add huge value and flexibility to the original mousetrap. So start thinking about it and see where it can take your company. The possibilities are endless.

 

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