The Best Formula for a Successful POC Starts with The Cloud
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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.
Common Reasons POC Processes Fail
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:
- Undefined objectives. What actually determines a POC’s success?
- Failure to meet customer requirements. The vendor does not fully understand the customer’s requirements.
- Not using the real data Vendors only use sample data for the POC, reluctant to spend the time and effort required to use actual data.
- Unable to meet changing criteria. Unfortunately, customers usually realize what they want only after they start using the product, and vendors are often reluctant to allow refining and adjustments on the go.
- Too focused on flashy features rather than the value provided to the customer. POCs show off “killer” features instead of customizing the product to solve the customer’s problem.
- Seeking to impress rather than close sales. Vendors often see POCs as a validation for their fantastic product rather than an evaluative tool for improving the product.
The Best Proof of Concept Starts in the Cloud
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.
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Solving Traditional POC Problems with Cloud-based Virtual Environments
Define clear objectives and requirements upfront. But leave room for changes along the way
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.
Let them use it, play with it and even break it – nothing happens to the data
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.
Give your customers some credit – don’t blindside them with empty visualizations
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.
Watch, learn, and improve
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.
Follow additional POC best practices
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.
- Create a standardized duration and scope of POCs to create a consistent buyer experience and maximize sales teams’ time.
- Encourage cross-departmental communication; the development team can help prepare sales teams for more successful and insightful demos.
- Create a process to onboard new employees that prepare them for a successful POC.
- Ask sales teams to document any feedback they receive from buyers during the POC; these insights can lead to product or demo improvements.
- Consistently measure success rates and make continuous improvements, then measure their impact.
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.
Use the Right Platform for POCs
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.
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