Beholden: Lessons learned from Market Samurai and Google


Market SamuraiThere are many products that simply wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for an enabling technology or service. I am designing a pivot strategy for @ExumaTech that could revolutionize the way owners of late model cars, trucks, boats and RVs communicate with their dealers. One of the risk factors I’ve identified is the dependence this solution will have on dealer management systems (DMS). If the link between this app and the DMS breaks, no more value to customers.

Being dependent upon another technology is very different than simply providing another interface to an existing product or service, or adding new functionality. There are thousands of products that add a missing feature to popular services like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The Twitter “auto-reply” products are a good example. If the giants cough, the enablement technologies can either catch a cold or worse yet become irreparably broken.The legion of Twitter auto-responders are a good example of this. When and if Twitter releases this feature, so much for those products.

There is another class of products like Market Samurai that help people improve efficiencies by coalescing and organizing data from numerous sources and presenting it to the user in a common interface. A good example of this is HootSuite. Like Market Samurai, HootSuite is a great service because it helps us manage our social media activities across multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts. Twitter and Facebook have published APIs in their services to enable companies like HootSuite and thousands to create valuable products. This of course bolsters the value of those services and creates an ecosystem of developers and designers promoting those services.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the giants (Google) coughed and it seriously disrupted the service provided by Market Samurai. Many companies that don’t have an open and honest relationship with their customers and the blogosphere would have hidden from these issues while their customers suffered. Worse yet they could have blamed Google for all of their problems in one simple blog post and then gone silent while they paniked behind closed doors. However Market Samurai did what any company operating in our open socially engaged world would do – they threw the doors open to conversation with their customers, fans and ditracters. That door was left open 24-hours a day through the weekend and into the following week.  Eugene Ware, their CEO, lays it all out on the line here. Bravo!