We as entrepreneurs or managers conventionally always link success of a product to its proper development and management. Thus we get too much into managing it at a technology/manufacturing level and with defined and so called best practice processes.I strongly believe that objective of any product for any company must only be its success and the rest must be a plan to achieve that success in the right context. Practices, processes and paradigms that need to be adopted from operational point of view must be always evaluated, innovated, adapted and then implemented. In today’s time, just going by the book is not going to help in creating successful and great products as everything traditional is challenged.
Through this post I attempt to share my thoughts and the C#TMC paradigm that I follow in my ongoing quest to develop required capability in Kreeo, as a technology company with a successful product and business model.
My views below are from a technology company context, but they can quite generically apply to not just technology products but also to non-technology products, solutions, and services. Basically, whatever you wish to sell and earn from, as a company!
Companies (especially startups) must think of developing not just the right product or offering but the entire capability that will be required to sell successfully, scale up and create competitive edge.
This requires holistic and synergistic effort related to the three perspectives of:
- Technology (What is required to build the value?)
- Market (What we wish to or can potentially target and how we sell it given the competition?)
- Customers (How to delight them and create success stories?)
So what all to consider for developing right capability through TMC (C#TMC)?
Technology evolves very fast and thus doing something technically similar to what the best have done with years of evolution is a sure path to failure, always Think Scratch Up to have the leanest and future proof technology.
Develop technology that solves real customer problems, Think Advantage. Defy the conventional and try to go beyond, that’s the only way to create long term sustainable advantage.
Always have a Clear Vision of what you wish to achieve and don’t be rigid about the path you take. Learn through closeness to customers & markets and make evolution your DNA.
Follow an Evolutionary Methodology for development as you will have to aesthetically chisel your creation over a period of time for higher value to customers. Your own new ideas, customer feedback and competition will ensure that changes are required frequently.
To Design Before Coding is a good habit to have, earlier the better. It doesn’t matter if the design is on a tissue paper, or in a more structured best practice document template, idea is to think and have clarity before you jump into coding/manufacturing, it will reduce headaches, rework and will effectively support an evolutionary methodology, else you may create a huge mess.
Usability needs to continuously evolve and become better forever. Having said that, to do it effectively, best is to learn from users/customers. Talk to them to identify key issues and define what may suit them best. Key will always be continuous evolution.
Having a good understanding of the market and trends is very important to stay competitive.
STP & Size: Clearly define your market in terms of technology space, geographies and industries. You need to have a good understanding of how big is the market in terms of size and what is the Total Addressable Market (TAM) for you. From the identified market we must identify the relevant segments/industries that are best suited for your product and value proposition. Your product may apply to a wide variety of industries and segments but we must only target the most attractive. Attractiveness must be identified based on ease of reaching, competitive strengths, sales cycle and price you may command. Once you know your targets it’s very important to work on how to position your offering such that you clearly communicate your proposition and also differentiate it from the competition.
Competition: Today there is no market that has no competition, rather there exist players large and small who all are eating into the pie. Competition may be direct or indirect, identify both. So it’s important to keep a tab on how competition is evolving their offerings and you must evolve your value proposition accordingly and identify your niche to create a foothold.
Unmet & Evolving Needs: Even if a market is cluttered with various players, the needs of the customers are not fully met and are always evolving. So having a good understanding of evolving and unmet needs can give you important ideas on how to adjust your offering.
You may think of customers as part of market perspective, but that’s not entirely true. A market consists of only prospects and competition. What you win from a market is a customer and is the one who pays. As soon as a prospect becomes a customer the capability required to successfully manage them is different and requires that focus. Customer-Capability must be given highest attention for long term and sustainable success of your business.
Work on the following:
- Utility: Identify what features and technical capabilities will help customers get maximum utility from your product and largely out-of-box.
- Usage: Continuously evolve the UX/UI to help make usage as simple as possible.
- Customization: No one solution will ever fit all customers (especially in technology) and moreover it is good to be agile and evolving. Customization will increase utility and thus also usage. Find out ways to offer and maintain customizations at least cost for a win-win. Any innovation here can be a source of competitive advantage.
- Deployment: In the same market and prospect base similar prospects may have different deployment needs. Sense these needs early and identify the most suited deployment models. Try to be flexible and responsive. Time required to get a product implemented for an enterprise is increasingly becoming a key selection criterion.
- Support & Services: Lines between products and services are gone; customers want complete solutions, so deliver offerings that bundle technology and services for minimum hassles and additional burden on customers.
- Relationship: We must focus on making each and every customer delighted by your value and thus create success stories in real sense. No marketing technique can match word of mouth of a delighted customer.
- Financial: Given the model and offerings we need to look at their financial viability also. So think, given your product, deployment and services can you do it profitably and scale up.
The path to evolve an offering and create strong value proposition comes out from the Interplay of TMC. This won’t happen unless we intentionally explore and experiment with each having a bigger and long term picture of the business. We must not see it as mainly a product development or management challenge rather a challenge to develop right-TMC capability over a period of time for successful product and sustainable business. This insures that the innovation you are creating is solving real problems and is perfectly aligned to user needs thus having high utility and adoption.
Sumeet Anand is Founder CEO of Kreeo (i-nable Solutions), a startup in the space of Enterprise 2.0 and collective intelligence.