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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


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Change Drawer

(April 09, 2004) - If we've said it once.....the real innovations needed in our marketplace involve Marketing, not more technology. The crushing volume of companies producing the same level of commodity service seems to inspire an "arms race" in technical things. Rarely do we get to witness a company taking feedback from the market and folding it into the existing product simply to increase the customer's sense of value.

The situation is somewhat reminiscent of the Automobile industry in the early 1980s. The Japanese manufacturers walked in a "stole" the market with cars that the domestic players saw as "rinky-dink" or "underpowered". What did the new entrants offer? Not faster or bigger.

They improved reliability, winning awards for customer satisfaction. They put power windows in all of the cars (it used to be a luxury feature). They made refinements to the edges and seams so that the cars looked better on the showroom floor. They championed and delivered far lower defect rates. (At that time, a typical American car came with about 100 defects from the factory.)

The improvements were all simple, relatively easy to execute, and driver-centric. They never tried to compete on the standard American playing field. The new imports were decidedly not faster or sexier. But, they held their resale value, never broke and had little nice things (like the now-standard change drawer). They had a reputation for better gas mileage.

Think about the "change drawer" for a moment.

Imagine being a design engineer in Detroit in 1980. Of all the features that could be added to a car, it was completely unlikely that anyone in Detroit would ever come up with the "change drawer". Even though every car ever built had change flowing under its seats, in the ashtrays, in the glove compartment, on the ledge in front of the speedometer and under the mats. With 60 years of manufacturing and design experience, Detroit could not imagine the change drawer.

That's what separated the early Japanese cars from their American counterparts...a clear understanding of the driver and the way the car was actually used. The innovations that made Japanese cars so successful were marketing innovations. You did not have to learn a new way of driving (British imports). Driving just became more fun and reliable.

That's the kind of leap Monster has made with its new resume product. For years now, the company has been hearing that using its resume tools is like standing in front of a firehose...too many results, too few of them relevant. In the best case (and this is true of every job boar resume interface we can think of), 50% of the resumes are relevant. Monster, for reasons of sheer scale, developed the reputation for delivering huge quantities of the wrong stuff.

We can imagine that the initial problem solving teams focused on discussions with the brightest minds at MIT (around the corner). The question was certainly framed as "How do we refine search so that we only deliver relevant results?" It certainly resulted in the endless hours of "angels on the head of a pin" types of discussions that occupy the minds of our technical people on the subject of search optimization.

You know how these things go. The techies say: "If the customers would learn to form better Boolean logic, there results would improve." Something like the Detroit engineer who considered the change problem and decided that customers needed bigger pants pockets.

And then, somewhere, somebody had a "change drawer insight". The new Monster Resume product is not an advancement in search technology, it's a demonstration of the degree to which current technology can be controlled to deliver 100% relevant results all of the time. The trick is so obvious that most industry veterans will not understand its power. Monster has simply constrained search to fielded data so that search and its results are more closely aligned. The new search interface guarantees that results will be 100% relevant 100% of the time.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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