This is the question every company has to answer. How do I take market share from my competitors? How do I make my product indispensable to my customers? How can I single-handedly disrupt an ecosystem of existing players?
The answer: don’t do it alone.
Once, you had to hire someone to be able to get all of your critical business functions. To 'not be alone' you had to actually hire other people.
Today, thanks to the diversification of business models that the Internet has enabled, we are seeing job functions become application programme interface (API), and APIs become companies.
There was a time that data entry was a job – today data can be automatically pipped from one service to another. And, indeed, there are some who make their business out of piping data – companies like Zapier.
There was a time that data analysis was a job – today, graphs are automatically generated, reports are scheduled, and historical data is a tap away. Again, there are companies making businesses out of this function – take a look at companies like Statbot, which is building a business making visualisations of data it doesn’t own, generated in an ecosystem it doesn’t control.
It’s 2016, and we live in the world of microservices.
Microservices is a concept coming out of the technology industry, and specifically service-oriented architecture design. In short, how can you make each service do one unique thing, so they are all replaceable and independent of each other?
Taking this concept to product development changes the paradigm. The classic 'build vs. buy' question is almost always answered with a 'both'. How to stitch together the tools that you have and that others are producing is the challenge for senior leadership today, across every functional vertical and industry.
Some edtech companies are attacking this challenge with a suite of services. While some of what they use is pretty standard—like Google Tag Manager (GTM)—there are always ways to push the limits of what you can do.
One idea is leveraging GTM to track data in different ways for different teams – creating individual Google Analytics instances for the different parts of a business.
For example, while the product team in an edtech company needs to see data aggregated around product features, the pedagogy team would be far more interested in a user-wise view. While 'Views' within Google Analytics could help, it would take a lot of customisation to be able to build the roll-ups one needs for the different stakeholders.
So, one simple solution is giving each team their own Google Analytics instance. The analytics team handles sending the data, and adds additional data on request. In almost all situations, one can add the additional data from configuration within GTM, without having to go back to the development team.
By giving each functional verticals control over what data they are seeing, you can drive increased uptake and visibility for the analytics. People then can actually log in and look at analytics.
So, now, you might be thinking, “So, I can do it all with vendors? Who needs employees?”
Especially in the edtech space, the competition is extremely cut throat. So to be able to push the technology envelope, and not the employee, you will have to utilise microservices. These services let you increase the employee productivity, while also letting you leverage other companies, their employees, research and value.
Even as a small team, you can now be codependent with small teams all over the world. So, when you win, they win. I think it's a winning combination.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)