By Jamie Finn (@finnstr), Director of Communications Product Design, Telefonica Digital
Earlier this month, while out visiting our new colleagues at Tokbox in California, I was reminded of one of the many cultural differences that exist even amongst speakers of the same language. We were discussing what should be the “first product” that we do as Telefonica Digital together with Tokbox. The list was starting to grow longer – in fact it was overwhelming in terms of what we could do, but in reality we knew what we had to do and that was to “eat our own dog food” or as the English say “drink our own champagne”.
I find this a curious saying in either guise. And for those of you wondering what these expressions mean – they imply to use your own products or services.
One of the many patterns I see pop up across the number of companies that I’ve worked at or visited is the culture of using your own products and how it reflects the level of commitment or belief in the business.
Some examples of this are how as employees of O2 / Movistar / Vivo we (the employees) are signed up to the mobile phone services from those brands – it is our core business after all. Similarly I would suggest that you won’t see very many Android devices over at the Apple campus except to research the competition nor will you see many Google employees using Microsoft Outlook.
No product improves without feedback and it is vital to support your employer and work towards making it better.
I suppose this mindset comes from my youth, where I spent time growing our family food import and distribution business in Puerto Rico. The one thing that my dad ingrained in me from day one was that we would never, ever under any circumstance whatsoever buy our competitors’ products. We had to support our family business and use our own products.
Flipping back to the matter at hand… sitting with the Tokbox team we started debating things further and finally I stopped and asked them which of their products they used internally? All of them said the same thing: “We use TokTime”. Now Toktime is a beautifully simple concept that really gets to the heart of the problems with video conferencing as basically it is “just” a room. People can go into the “room” at any time as long as its available and have a meeting, that’s it. No flashy anything – just good old face-to-face communications. Honestly when they explained the product to me it all became so simple.
So in an effort to further eradicate competitive products from our work environment, do ‘drink your own champagne’ or ‘eat your own dog food’. You know what I mean, don’t you?