24 October, 2017

Who do you want your customer to become?

Customer is King

Thinking about the customer is a high-risk innovation type. Customers' needs and desires keep changing, which adds to the risk. Inspiring customers to behave in a new way is something very few organizations are thinking about.

Defining New Behavior
Steve Jobs' Apple designed touchscreen interface which inspired customers to behave differently. Henry Ford never thought about motivating horses to run faster. Instead, he built cars. Elon Musk didn't continue Henry's tradition. He is working on promoting faster travel through Hyperloop and supporting space tourism. Google is going a step further, building driverless cars. These products augment human abilities and improve their well-being in better ways.

Things get interesting when specially-abled people start to use such innovative technology. For example, a blind person using a cane could use google maps to guide her to the destination. Countries like Japan can entrust driverless cars for octogenarians who continue to drive and cause accidents. There are innumerable opportunities.

Drones were discounted as toys in the early days. Today, they are used in photography in extreme conditions of climatic disasters, war scenarios, spying, products delivery and for many other purposes. A typical drone looks like a toy with a remote control, needs zero learning and is ready to fly as soon as you unpack it.

Drones discovered new customer behavior.

Hotel Bookings
Travelers want to book hotels in advance because when prices are cheaper. But, they are intimidated to make a payment in advance. If they are not sure to make it to the hotel, they would like to avoid refund hassles. They prefer paying on the day of their check-in. In many cases, travelers would like to cancel the booking. Since they didn't pay earlier, they are happy to cancel without spending a penny. Maybe, they are okay with a small cancellation fee, occasionally.

Booking.com re-defined customer behavior in many ways:
Travelers can book the hotel in advance without making payment. Travelers can cancel the hotel with Zero cancellation fee. Hotels with cancellation and non-cancellation policies are highlighted, directly encouraging travelers to book the hotels with free cancellation facilities. Highlight cancellation dates and how much cancellation fee applies after due date. Free cancellation feature encourages many tourists and business travelers to book hotels on booking.com for visa purposes if some countries have trouble issuing invitation letters to them.

Booking.com discovered new customer behavior.

Innovate with the Customer in Mind
Organizations / People looking to innovate with the customer in mind must spot unique change or trend in customer behavior

Steps involved in Customer Innovation

  1. Discovery of a new customer behavior
  2. Creating a new type of customer based on the behavior
  3. Creating a new market

This is a high-risk innovation which takes a long time to become disruptive. If done right, this innovation can re-define future of products and services.

Think Uber, Airbnb, SpaceX!

How do you innovate?

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?