09 October, 2017

What's the burning problem you want to solve?

The App Story

Want to order books? There's an app for that.

Want to rent furniture? There's an app for that.

Want to make mobile payments? There's an app for that.

Want to tweet while you drive the car? There's an app for that! Remember Tesla? Tesla loves you so much that it supports social media buttons on the car interface

Want to talk to your driver? There's an app for that. Remember Uber? They care so much for your safety that they encourage drivers to chat with you as they drive.

Want to keep the baby busy? There's an app for that too!

The Bot Story

Want to get to the call center analyst faster? There's a bot for that.

Want to converse with an e-commerce company? There's a bot for that. 

The patient wants to talk to the nurse? There's a bot for that too!

What's the burning problem you want to solve?

The world has many problems to be solved. Only few are worth solving. When we think of building a website, an app, a bot or even a robot, we need to ask ourselves three fundamental questions: 

1. Is this a problem that many others have?

2. Is this problem serious enough and worth solving?

3. How often does this problem occur?

How severe is the problem?

Mosquito Bite Problem
Is the problem similar to a mosquito bite? There are mosquitoes, and they do bite people. But doing nothing is a viable option. In few cases, mosquito bites may lead to serious diseases, but those are rare cases in rare places. But, that's only rare. Fixing moquito bites is a 'Nice to Have'. Is this serious enough? May be not!

Shark Bite Problem
Is this problem critical enough that many customers are trying to solve? Are they panicking that they are late to the market? Are they looking at competitors? Are they feeling as if a giant shark is going to eat them up. This is a Shark Bite problem.

"Feature should be a Shark Bite Problem on a Mosquito Scale" ~ Omar Mohout

Products or features must be built based on the seriousness of problems that occur at high frequencies. If we don't solve shark bite problems on mosquito scale, customers move to greener pastures in due course of time.

We live amidst an ocean of websites, apps, bots, robots and what not! Quote the problem and there you are - someone tells you about an innovative app or bot that solves your problem. We believe in a future of screens, smartphones, tablets, and laptops. We believe in a future where every possible technology is stitched into our brain, skin, flesh and appears to work for us. We believe in a world of interfaces. Some problems may go away with interfaces, but most of them can be solved only with meaningful solutions. So, what is the burning problem you want to solve?

Inventor and M.I.T. Media Lab researcher David Rose picks interesting problems and solves them. Take a look.

David or the Screen Guy?