Case Study: Blaze Network Products contacted us after developing a super fast new technology for optical network transceivers. Their technology and patents were sound, and they had funding to build their first product. The problem? What product to build first.
Blaze’s technology allowed them to build either faster transceivers for a given length of cable, or transceivers that would drive a given bandwidth across a longer cable. With single-mode and multi-mode fiber choices, and new emerging cable standards, the choice was not easy.
Mixed Advice from Customers
What made the choice even harder was that their target customers, large optical networking product vendors like Cisco and Juniper Networks, were giving them conflicting advice. Cisco suggested that end users would want longer cable lengths, while Juniper wanted higher bandwidth. The top six vendors were split evenly on single-mode vs multi-mode fiber. The only thing they all agreed on was that they would evaluate whatever transceiver Blaze developed against competitive products when it was ready. Before they placed their bet for their first product, Blaze needed to know where their technology would create a price/performance advantage that competitors couldn’t touch.
Blaze asked us to take the question to end-users: Enterprises, hospitals, universities, and government agencies that would purchase the equipment from Cisco. While end users may not spend much time thinking about fiber optic cable transceivers, they do think very hard about their optical cable strategy.
You Don’t Dig Up the Parking Lot Twice
To install fiber optic networking cables at a corporate or university campus, it is usually necessary to dig trenches in the parking lot or rip out building walls. In the words of one Fortune 500 Chief Information Officer, “You don’t dig up the parking lot twice.” This meant that customers who already had fiber installed were not interested in longer cable runs. They would only purchase equipment that worked with their installed cable.
Finding the Sweet Spot
So the key to the puzzle was the existing fiber optical cable installed base. The sweet spot, based on products end users expected to need within two years, was “Gigabit speeds over FDDI lengths.” If Blaze could build a transceiver that would deliver this higher-bandwidth over existing cable, it would have a winning product.
Get Your Product Right the First Time
If Blaze had listened to Cisco, they would have built a transceiver that was too powerful and too expensive for the bulk of the market. Instead, they were successful with a first product that dominated the sweet spot defined by end users.
Have you found your company’s sweet spot, where your technology creates maximum value for end users? We can help, give us a call.