The Enterprise Viral growth strategy impacts other aspects of an organization, but is fueled through the product. It is the product's responsibility to prove the value proposition, be engaging, and turn users into advocates. These are great generalizations, but what are specifics that drive this type of product?
The most important is a strong and understandable value proposition, one where the user not only gets the benefit, but can articulate it. An example from my own life, at WideAngle our initial messaging centered around sales coaching. This nebulous concept made it difficult for users that loved our product to convey why. Changing our messaging to focus on One on Ones made it much easier for our users to draw the correlation between using our product and having a more productive team.
Users that don't enjoy the experience of the product are not going to help it spread through an organization.
Bringing value is just the first step, but meaningless if your users can't extract it. So much of the software used in the enterprise is rage-inducingly difficult. Users that don't enjoy the experience of the product are not going to help it spread through an organization. So while you might be selling to a company, the product has to have that consumer level of fit, finish, and design. Basecamp, Github, Slack, and New Relic are great examples of software for companies that are easy to use.
Where product can really supercharge its spread through an organization and become truly Enterprise Viral is in bringing benefits to increased usage. To reference Slack again, more groups on the product leads to easier cross-organization communication.
Within businesses network effects are not the only avenue for increased adoption. Products that that can bring new insight to the executive level while providing day-to-day value to the front line will also spread virally. A critical mass of users will result in the product becoming an organizational mandate. This also increases the importance of a good experience, since these users will only interact with your organization through the product.
A critical mass of users will result in the product becoming an organizational mandate.
On often overlooked point when an organization is focused on spreading is ensuring that the users stay users. Your product organization needs to prioritize features and improvements that keep users as well as those that attract new ones. Giving users power from past actions, constantly improving the experience, and features for power users are just as important as features that drive user growth.
Enterprise Viral puts more stress on the product team since deficiencies will be hard to cover up by a top-notch sales and services teams. If the product fails to meet expectations, it will fail to spread, and revenues will dry up. However it is the least risky method for a small startup to get to the large contracts that make a successful software business.
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