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Hi, I am Martin.

This is my blog on mainly technology, entrepreneurship and design. Links about just about anything comes through now and then though. I also run a site on photography called Digital Photo Guide! If you are into photography, why not check that out?

Go to digitalphotoguide.net

Customer don’t know what they want

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Product development is often about fusing a great customer requirement with a technical solution from the architects and the team who are to make it an reality. Both sides must be taken into consideration or it will end up a product that look great but can’t be used or is great to use but do not fill a requirement.

I think really great products come from melding two points of view—the technology point of view and the customer point of view. You need both. You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new. —Steve Jobs in Inc

This come from an interview with Steve Jobs in Inc back in 1989 but it is as current today as it was when it was published. Every customer who enters the stage at a product company have a goal in mind. Something they want to achieve. They have been working on their own, trying to jolt down the end goal in as many ways they could. In sketches, in specifications and sometimes even in prototypes. The challenge for the product company is not to create what they bring to the table, the challenge is to find all areas of that goal they have in mind but never wrote down on the specifications.

Back to square one, the customer can’t tell you what they want. They will however let you know when you have created what they did not want. Or when you created the bare minimum of what they expected to see. All in all, we end up in a situation where the customer is unhappy and might even feel fooled since they have something they did not want and the producer is not understanding why they wont get payed since they did their part as they saw it. Is there a way to handle a situation like this before we get to this point?

It all comes down to iterations. Whether it is called Agile Development, Scrum, Kanban or something created in-house it all comes down to short goals and verifications together with bold product management. If we allow ourselves to do some wrongs to make a right it is no longer as scary to show a prototype to a customer and get back that is was all wrong. With short iterations we can just scrap what we had, create a new take on the same problem and show it instead.

If we allow ourselves to do some wrongs the entire software product market would mature in a way it is today to proud to do. There is few customers who would accept this way of working in a bigger scale since they have most likely been burned by other software producers in the past.

Try it out, throw yourself in front of a customer; show and tell. Before you know it, perhaps you even get better at demoing your other products if it is something you do over and over again.

Stores as showrooms to counter or empower online shopping?

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The common way to shop as a consumer today is to walk down to the local store, look and feel the products but not buying them there. The actual purchase takes place online at the cheapest vendor we can find and we use services to find where that is. As this might be a good way to shop it is a problem for the store that need to pay wagers for the staff you ask and to pay for the stock of products that are getting looked at but not bought.

They do pay for all this but get nothing out of the deal when it comes to income. So, how to coop with all these free-loading shoppers? How to stop their ineffective way of creating cost but no income?

A store in Australia came up with a solution. They take a fee for all that enters the store, $5. You pay to enter and the fee get payed back upon purchase in the store. It sounds quite easy but there is a major flaw with this solution.

Entry fee fend of the shoppers who are going through to browse and end up buying things they did not look for in the first place. It introduce a hurdle for your everyday shopper to get over and by that make the purchase more complicated then it was before. And what usually happen when you change something for a more complicated way? Consumers turn at the doorstep and direct their attention elsewhere.

A more delicate way of handling this would be to use the power of clubs and memberships. Why not present deals between the local stores and the price checking services online in a way so that they can share the profit between them? And byy sharing profit, empower both parties?

A scenario that would be simple to get up and running would be that the price running service introduce a membership and by checking in while your in the local store you get a token on you account which give you points and a discount on the actual store where you end up buying the product. If you log a product in the store it will be available in the online service that looks for best price and at the same time – the store that made you find the product gets a cut of the deal. The discount would be the incitement for the consumer to use the card for the online purchase and by doing so, the seller and the local store have a connection and they can set up an agreement on partly shared profits etc.

So, why would anyone want to share profit?

Well, both the local store and the online seller has provided an active role in the purchase of the product. The local store need to pay for staff and products but may keep a smaller stock since product get bought online instead. Their gain is the reduced stock. The online reseller on their end would get a clear view of their customers and they would give out a percentage of the profit to the store that got the consumer to choose a specific product. Their gain is to together with the local stores direct purchases and provide not planned selling for the ones who end up ordering products from them. All profit and the consumer get a product for a great price.

Everyone is happy. So there you have it. A free five minute idea for you to monetize on.


The umbrella man

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In times when things happen which we can’t always understand, times when we all try to explain – always remember The Umbrella Man.

The clip isn’t new but I had never seen it before and really enjoyed the story aspect of it. The lesson within can be applied to many situations around us.

Evernote quick tip: IOU

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I’m a heavy Evernote user and have incorporated it into many aspects of my daily work. One thing I use it for and would like to promote is the IOU notebook – keep track of what you have loaned from others as well as what they’ve loaned from you!

Will I use Google Keep?

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Yesterday Google unveiled their new service which is clearly in the market to compete against Evernote, Springpad and other services designed to make you organize and remember your life. The idea is nothing we have not seen before as in to save notes of text and images and be able to search for them in a controlled way.

The service might be good, it might even be better then Evernote. Evernote has been the leader of it’s kind for a long time now and is not without flaws. If there was a service presented which took these flaws into account I am sure that Evernote would loose a big chunk of its users.

But, in the light of what has happened to Google services in the past many of its users have been forced to learn how to coop without Google services as a tool in their every day life. Buzz, Wave and Reader is just three example of services that came to market, was loved by some but then pulled without mercy. With the events of Google Reader in close memory it makes it quite hard for me to trust a new service. I still will try it out (I did try to service was overloaded when I did) but I will not be quick to go all into the service.

And yes, I loved Google Wave. It was a bit ahead of its time but it was killed of much before it had time to shine.

The most frightening part of this is that one can only think of the day the Google executives start glancing at Gmail and if the service really is needed or if all mails could be send from within Google+ instead as Facebook has done. That would in fact be the last breath of the free Google service era.

More information
Google Keep—Save what’s on your mind” by Google Official Blog
Google Keep, an Overdue Answer to Evernote, Arrives” from WIRED
Sorry Google; you can Keep it to yourself” from GIGAOM

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