In the final part of our series on digital product innovation we look at how the right technology approach can mean the difference between a passable product and a game changing business capability. Read part one on product challenges, part two on aligning business goals and part three on the importance of the product team experience.
It’s fair to say that a common misstep businesses make when starting on their journey to create digital products is leading with technology. It’s understandable, given the temptation to view tech as the key to exciting possibilities, or a panacea to stagnant growth. While there’s no question technology is a key part of creating digital products, you should always consider it alongside the elements we’ve discussed thus far in this series.
A considered business strategy and the right team set up will allow organisations to approach building digital products with a focus on driving business value. Your thinking should encompass more than simply updating legacy systems or buying the newest piece of emergent tech, however, and instead turn towards a much bigger picture.
The need for intelligent orchestration
The ability to create a digital product that solves for a particular use case or pain point whether for internal use or as an external customer-facing asset is beneficial, but it is unlikely by itself to deliver long-term value and growth. Thinking about digital product innovation as a sustainable capability, however, like the concept of a product studio, will allow your organisation to solve business challenges (and capitalise on opportunities) in a more holistic way, leveraging common technical assets and accelerators and reducing the waste of isolated, one-use products. This means your digital products can be used in multiple ways, solve a variety of problems and create additional opportunities for growth.
Intelligent orchestration is not just about smart solution architecture, it’s fundamentally about future proofing your business for the digital age. It involves integrating technology and data into a connected ecosystem, with embedded intelligence in the system itself and the workflows that it operates. It will allow for:
- the scalability and flexibility of architecture to adapt to future needs and new technologies;
- ease of configuration when connecting to services and data sources from third parties;
- unified and automated workflows that will increase efficiency, access and consistency of data; and,
- a stable, secure, trusted platform for all.
Importantly, it is not just about making more products but about creating them in an intelligent fashion. This is where we often see businesses fall down when trying to get the most out of their product investment. The resulting smart ecosystem — embedded with machine learning and automation at its core — is where you will find real value.
The technology setup
To set up a product studio it is important to have solid guiding principles and foundational infrastructure in place as this will inform your future prioritisation and architecture decisions. Digital experience principles should form the baseline for your product experience, and shape interactions with your future users. This means ensuring that the product is trusted, reliable and secure with regards to privacy and quality. It should be connected and convenient, fit a user’s lifestyle and enable them with informed, accurate and timely information. Products should be relevant and personalised, and provide frictionless, seamless experiences.
With these principles in mind, the next step is to have data to solve for the opportunity or challenge. Unfortunately, many of today’s organisations find their data sources are disconnected, in disparate systems and not easily visible. To connect the data, businesses need to surface what they do have, aggregate, collate and connect it whilst addressing security, permissions, visibility and ontology, and then use mature analytics to forecast and optimise your product to solve business challenges.
As your legacy systems will attest, technology changes rapidly over time, and so any solutions or products implemented need to be adaptable so that newer applications can be integrated and connected into the ecosystem as they emerge. For this future-proofing reason, the ecosystem is almost as important as the core platform and any 3rd party or partner applications should therefore be assessed for ease of use, efficiency, growth and availability/scalability of adoption before bringing them on board.
Accelerating innovation with Product Ops
Now that we’ve covered setting up an intelligent ecosystem for scalability and growth, the same thinking needs to be applied to how to build the actual products. To rapidly create products that deliver business and customer value, it also needs to be approached intelligently. This means leveraging reusable business, design, data and technology components, frameworks and accelerators to streamline processes and development. Taking this ‘Product Ops’ approach, you will be able to develop and test product iterations faster, allowing more time to be spent testing and validating product features with users. A Product Ops approach involves:
- efficient business operations through automation and lean processes to reduce effort and avoid duplication;
- modular design systems and libraries to speed up the development process while creating a consistent design treatment across user journeys and workflows;
- smarter connection and configuration of data by leveraging pre-built components, frameworks and models that enhance analytics and machine learning; and
- existing technology modules and frameworks that help accelerate development while creating lightweight architecture for better product performance and standardised development practices for greater efficiency.
As we’ve outlined in this series, in order to reap the benefits of digital product innovation, companies need to capitalise on the possibilities technology offers, not simply implement it. To do this they should think strategically about their product ecosystem, guiding principles and the importance of building an enduring product innovation capability, such as a product studio. With strategic business considerations in place, the right approach to innovation and an intelligent, embedded technology ecosystem you will avoid common errors and ensure there will be no limit to what your products can do for your business and your customers.
It’s time to get building.