Customer don’t know what they want

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?

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.


2011 in hindsight

Wait, what? Shouldn’t this post be named 2012 in hindsight if any hindsight was to be mentioned? When I started to write up a summary of 2012 I stumbled upon the post I wrote for last new years eve but I then forgot to publish so with that said I thought – why not start the 2012 hindisght with what happened the year before. When reading it through it struck me that there was many events of 2011 which has already almost forgotten. So without further ado, there is 2011 in hindsight to give some perspective before we look at 2012.

Living off the grid

Economic crisis, unemployment and lack of just about everything. Media show us a picture of a world in a fast spiral down into the abyss but is is really a truthful picture we see? There are people who have made a decision to let society take it’s toll on it’s own and leave it all away. I’ve found myself to read ever more articles on the subject lately and simply thought I could share some of what I’ve read. This is all about survival in the wild.