When a company conducts a private test, they’re usually a little nervous about putting their product into the hands of testers. Not only is a company worried about how their product will be perceived and if testers will like it, but there is always the chance of important information being leaked to the public. Companies spend a ton of time (and money!) developing new devices and software programs, and an ill-timed leak may end up sinking a new product before it’s ever released.
When participating in a private test, it’s crucial to understand the role you play in maintaining the confidentiality of the products you’re testing. It’s the nature of the relationship between a company and its testers. You get the exclusive opportunity to play with a cool, new product, in exchange for promising to keep the information about that product secret, possibly indefinitely.
Companies take the security of their pre-release products very seriously. That’s why you’ll often be asked to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) as part of the test. So, why exactly are companies so afraid of leaks? Here are some of the big reasons:
Negative Buzz: Pre-release versions of a product often have issues or bugs. After all, that’s why the company is running a test but if some of these issues become public, they could create a negative buzz about the success of the product.
Decreased Sales: Products often evolve tremendously before their public release. Features found in early versions of the product may be removed or the look and feel of the product may change completely, so a pre-release product usually isn’t a good indicator of what the final version will be like. If potential customers are making buying decisions about a product before it’s complete, that could hurt the company’s sales.
No Message Control: Leaks are most commonly feared by a company’s PR and marketing departments. These departments work very hard to craft a highly-refined message and customer experience, and they would rather not have somebody else stealing their announcement thunder.
Competitive Advantage: One of the biggest fears for companies is that a competitor will get ahold of an early version of their product, giving them valuable insight into their new development. If the product is a breakthrough for the market, it gives competitors more time to prepare and build their own product in response.
As you can see, the consequences of a product’s information leaking can be serious, even devastating, for companies. Product testing is just that: testing. Companies aren’t ready for their product to be in the spotlight yet, and they’re trusting that testers will honor confidentiality. While leaks are rare, one bad apple can potentially spoil the whole experience for everyone.
When deciding to become a tester, consider what testing pre-release products will entail and if you think you’re comfortable with the responsibility. If so, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you helped with the success of that product’s development!
Look familiar? This post is a part of a series in which we’re breathing new life into some of our older entries.