Producing a successful cloud proof of concept has become a matter of interpretation, with too many misunderstandings on both sides, sometimes even leading to contract break-off. It’s a universal cause of frustration for customers looking for IT solutions and vendors looking to demonstrate their solutions.
More often than not, these failed POCs are the consequence of numerous colliding interests: while the vendor’s goal is validating the solution in the customer’s real-world environment, with as little time and effort as possible, the customer’s goal can be varied – from checking the usability of the product to checking its compatibility with existing databases or servers, to comparing build vs. buy investments, etc.
The fact that everyone’s right from their own perspective doesn’t make it any easier. But it does, however, outline a common goal to be achieved by the POC process: allow both customer and vendor to confirm that the solution in question is in line with the customer’s expectations before a full-blown implementation.
So, before exhausting yourselves with yet another endless POC process, let’s analyze the most common problems in failed POCs to help you avoid their iteration:
The truth is, these are all understandable difficulties considering POCs traditionally took many months to develop, with any new requirement or misunderstanding of objectives or request to use real-world use case – posing yet an additional effort on the vendor’s part. But, those days are long gone with the expansion of the cloud to IT solution development.
Here’s why –
The cloud enables a win-win situation: the customer gets to experience your product firsthand in a real-world environment, on their terms, with their real data, and you get to provide their every changing need quickly and effortlessly, in no time. In addition, there’s no hardware to ship, no software to install, and no IT to support, and you get to prove how your product solves your customer’s specific business problem.
The first rule you’ll see when strolling down the web for virtual POC best practices is defining customers’ requirements beforehand. And it’s true, to some extent.
But, we think the best approach here is to leave room for changing requirements: you need to demo your product in an environment that allows you to adjust requirements easily and quickly to match exactly what your customers want. Additionally, it’s essential to define their expectations better for the final delivery. Today, meeting ad hoc requirements is perhaps the most critical POC guideline.
With user-friendly, complex, isolated environments, the right virtual IT cloud platform enables you to invite your customers to test your product and even break it – without ever affecting the actual data. Tell them to use your product however they wish, test its limitations, and see if they can handle everything they can throw at it.
Nice-to-look-at visualizations and other gimmick features are excellent, but they’re not the point. Instead, use a SaaS-based virtual lab cloud platform that allows you to address your customer’s specific problems and offer customized dashboards to answer their needs. After all, we’re talking about solving your customer’s problem, not showing off your product.
When building complex environments is easy, and adjusting requirements is a standard process requiring minimum or reasonable efforts on your part, virtual POCs become less of a nuisance and more of an opportunity to gather valuable feedback on your product; use it to improve it.
The cloud has introduced new ways to deal with traditional problems that, for years, have caused POC failures. In addition, it has changed how vendors have traditionally perceived POCs, making developing, sharing, and “breaking” of safe, user-friendly environments – quick and easy.
In addition to the above practices, there are other ways to ensure you deliver a successful POC. Let’s briefly discuss some practical ways to improve your sales teams’ close rates and provide a better buyer experience.
Embracing best practices that have already proven successful for other businesses helps you minimize the learning curve and get better results from your POCs faster.
Now, you and your customers can truly enjoy and benefit from the actual value of successful POCs – empowering the enterprise and providing value to every customer while giving vendors feedback and information about their own products.
You need to use the right platform for your POCs. An ideal POC platform will allow both salespeople and developers to create interactive virtual demos while also making it easy for buyers to experience them without needing to download anything.
CloudShare’s platform creates powerful interactive virtualized demos that only require an Internet connection and browser. Ready to transform your POCs? Contact us today to talk with a virtualized demo expert.
This post was originally published on March 27, 2017 and updated August 18, 2022.