Saturday, August 16, 2008

At what point do you decide certain users are not worth the...

Twitter suspended outbound SMS to the United Kingdom this week:
Some SMS Perspective:

On Wednesday, we announced that Twitter has suspended outgoing SMS to our UK number. The blue in the chart above illustrates the percent of outgoing SMS we stopped sending. 2% of our user base consumed 4% of our outbound SMS over the UK number at a price which disproportionately impacted overall operational cost.

Twitter has been taking a bit of a beating over this, but when you examine the metrics it makes sense. Every feature consumes time, money and resources. Twitter is making a conscious decision to remove a costly feature that is used by a small number of users.

I'm left wondering at what point do you pull-the-plug on these sorts of things? Is there a rule-of-thumb or other equation that can help to inform these decisions? Seems sort of obvious that you'd want to direct your attention towards those things that most people use, and cut out all the seldom used items.

In other management circles they call this prioritization, staying focused, making sound business decisions. These are generally considered good things. In IT when you say, "This feature is used by less than 1% of the users" the response is often "we need to add more capabilities to that function." Almost never, "Maybe we should take that out as it gets in the way, and just clutters up the application for the majority of people."

Twitter pulling-the-plug in this instance makes total sense. I can think of tons of things that if you really examined your customer's behavior you would deep-six. This should happen a lot more.


Shelley said...

Don't agree. You should base your support patterns on the direction you want your company to go, and the type of customer you hope to attract. The price for long-term growth may be short term inequity, but that's taking the longer view.

For instance, your argument could be applied to Broadband. Do you also agree with companies putting in broadband caps?

Kevin Gamble said...


Thanks for the comment.

I don't disagree with anything you've said-- especially as it relates to the quasi monopolies that are telcos and cable providers.

I read your blog post... I was honestly asking the question about what things should go in informing these decisions. I would think that items which are being advanced by the more progressive users should not be on any hit list. They could be pointing to the holy grail for your business.

On the other hand, if the majority of users have moved on from some old way of working-- at what point do you pull the plug on the old? This is not a new issue, it's the old legacy computing systems issue. It's the gopher vs Web discussion. I'm sure that if we were still running Gopher today there would be people still using it.

Bud Gibson said...

Actually, I agree that there is not a clear rule, particularly when a company has no revenue stream. However, when push comes to shove, money losers are the first to go then options that are costly but used by few.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.