What we can learn from Bing vs. Google

I was reading an article recently about Bing vs. Google Search by David Pogue where he gives a very clear summary of how Bing is better.  Bing by the way is Microsoft’s answer to Google search which has become the closest connection most of us have to God.

You can get an answer, or rather almost every answer there is to any question you have by typing your query into Google.  And therein lies the problem with Google, or rather the opportunity for other search contenders to take some market share: there are so many results it’s often hard to find what you’re really looking for.

You can read David’s article for a more detailed understanding of the way’s Bing actually has improved upon Google’s offering so I’ll only highlight a couple before sharing my observations of what we can learn from this for our own lives.

First up Bing enables pop up windows via simple mouseovers of the results so you don’t actually have to click the link to see if the page you’re being sent to actually has the informtion you’re looking for.  Fabuloso! (Doesn’t work that well in practice I’ve found, yet a step in the right direction for sure.)

Second, Bing also condenses the results in the left panel so as to help you make sense of the hundreds or thousands of results that may have been returned from your search.

Both fantastic and clearly improves upon the current standard of search: Google.

So here’s my first observation: People need to have value explained to them.   If you are in business for yourself or intent on climbing the corporate ladder you cannot rely on any revolutions, innovations or improvements you produce to be obvious to anyone.

Bing vs. Google results are a case in point.   If you do the due diligence yourself and compare the results of a Bing Search or a Google search (not many people will) you will see changes, yet the value of those changes to your actual search experience will not be readily apparent for most people.

Even when you can do the search comparison easily (and you can at http://bing-vs-google.com) the value of the apparent differences you see will not be obvious  to most people.  It will not be clear to them how the Bing results actually make their lives easier by making results more accessible and more understandable.

David’s article does that, and Microsoft’s success with Bing will depend on their ability to get a very large number of people to get the marginal value Bing offers over Google.   And even so, will it be enough to compel people who have no idea how to change their screen resolution far less change their default search application?  The results to date say no.  Microsoft’s ability to create an ongoing Bing conversation that is interesting and relevant to us will determine this.

Everyone interested in moving ahead, gaining more trust with existing customers, acquiring new customers, or impressing boss and colleagues faces this very same challenge.  Not only must we deliver the value, but we must be able to explain what we’ve done, doing or going to do in a way that causes a change in thoughts, feelings and attitudes towards whatever we are offering, and these changes must be powerful enough to change behavior e.g. buy more, buy for the first time or promote us.  We must be able to tell a compelling story and deliver that story to the right people in a timely manner.

Here’s my second observation from Bing vs. Google: Your last best effort will become normal and expected and will be beaten in the marketplace very, very quickly.   How long do you think Google will take to not only match Bing, but also up the ante?  No idea, but the I’ll bet it will be months not years.

Internet Explorer was forced to match tabbed windows and other innovations forced upon them by Mozilla’s FireFox.  VOIP providers first content with eating the lunch of established telephony providers now have to face competition from Magic Jack which offers easier connection, less and cheaper hardware and lower annual costs ($20).

Blackberry no longer has a stranglehold on smartphones, and seems every Japanese manufacturer has introduced Apple’s touch screen (albeit not with the same market success).   No advantage lasts forever, and certainly no innovation can enjoy decades of protection and freedom from competition that patents used to confer.

What does this have to do with you?  Consider that your last big success will only get you so far.  Today’s marketplace looks for those it can rely on to continually deliver new and better than before.   If you’re intent on growing your business or career you must always be looking ahead to your next product or service.    And you won’t be able to do that without continually educating yourself and building strong teams and communities around you.  That takes time and … you said it: PRACTICE.

Hey, I never said living your life as a practice would be easy.  😉

Any thoughts? Contributions/acknowledgments welcome.