Product vs Solution - which to build?

15th Sep 2013
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PvsS
On many a website of software product companies, I see two sections, Products and Solutions, hinting that both are different. I also read an interview from the MD of a company who had said, “We invest in developing solutions and not products,” which reinforces this distinction, and further shows that solutions are better than products. Here’s my Rs 1.30 on this. (2 cents at prevailing forex rates)

When I googled ‘meaning of solution,’ this is what I got: “A means of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation,” or in other words, ‘a solution is something that solves a problem’. That’s all it is to call something a solution.

Now, what is a product, especially a software product? In my understanding, a product is a piece of code that is once developed and used by many people as it is. Examples that we can easily relate to are MS Word or a Tally.

A Product becomes a Solution when it solves a problem. Let’s explore this with a few examples.

MS Excel, a software product is a solution for those who face a problem of developing ‘what-if scenarios’ based on changing numerical data. DiaSof, a product from my company is a solution that solves the problem of diabetic patients missing their tests and reviews.

In fact, a product can solve multiple problems through its various features and facilities. For example, MS Word saves valuable time and effort to generate personalised mailers with its Mail Merge facility and managing different versions of a document through a Track Changes feature.

In essence, a product is a solution when it solves a problem and isn’t if it does not. They are not synonymous and at the same time they are not mutually exclusive like many people think. If a readymade product doesn’t solve an existing problem and a customised approach is needed, then clearly the latter is a solution while the former is not.

As an entrepreneur, we want to develop products not because we want to prove a point to others or be different, but to solve a problem that we see. Our products will be used only if they are a solution and not otherwise. Let’s therefore look for problems that we can help solve through our products.

So let’s build Solutions in the form of Products so that many people can benefit from them

About the guest author

Badri Narayanan V S is the founder of NRich Software P Ltd (www.diasof.com). He can be reached on twitter and can be found blogging here.

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