While marketing research may suggest that we should build options into our products, just how do you create ambidextrous products?
It's easier than you may think. Truth is, all you have to do is shift thinking, shift your mental frame and you'll find yourself using options in no time. The software field offers a classic example.
With a small amount of design at the start of the project, you can infuse applications with an option to switch databases. Microsoft, for example, has created a tool called Entity Framework that enables a software product to switch between databases without changing one line of code. One minute your product is running on Oracle, change a configuration file, and the next it's running on SQL Server.
Think your customers may need this option? As much as Steve Nash needs the crossover dribble to beat stronger, taller, opponents to the hoop and leave them flailing at thin air.
Although the Real Options approach has failed to stick to most people's brain cells, the key is knowing how to frame the problem. What kind of option is it?
In addition to providing an option to switch, the Entity Framework offers another game-changing benefit. Instead of programming against the database, a developer can now program against the model. This is like using an Excel spreadsheet to model an investment's cash flow instead of writing C code to hold 48 months of cash flow.
Allowing developers to spend more time focused on the application model means development times can be cut by as much as 40 - 50 percent in some scenarios.
An option to switch also increases your ability to negotiate favorable terms with a vendor or drop them like a hot tomato. When Apple had problems with IBM and its PowerPC chip, Apple exercised an option built into Mac's Operating System and switched to those crisp Intel chips.