Back in 2014, my colleagues and I declared that “the future of business is digital.” Yet, to build a digital business, you must build digital products. And the most disruptive digital businesses — well, they build great digital products.

How Do Disruptive Digital Leaders Build Great Digital Products?

One of the keys to unlocking digital product greatness is to shift from product-oriented to customer-value-oriented thinking. Digital leaders conceive and design new digital products to continuously improve the value customers derive from engaging with your products. Sounds simple! But the reality is that it’s not that easy to do.

For many, the principle challenge is in the word “continuously.”

Unfortunately, too many company executives assume digital products are produced just like traditional products. That is, they have a design-and-build phase, they’re launched, they turn into cash cows, and eventually they’re updated.

But digital products are never finished. Without continuous updates, digital products deliver decreasing customer value. Digital leaders use agile plus DevOps to continuously evolve their products around changing customer needs, wants, and desires.

Stages of digital product development

Beyond Continuous Design And Development, What Other Changes Are Needed?

In my latest research, “How To Build Great Digital Products,” I spell out the seven steps to success:

  1. Form a creative product team, combining multiple disciplines, and focus on delivering customer outcomes.
  2. Implement a product governance model that begins and ends with the customer’s perception of value.
  3. Build a robust research capability to better understand how your customers’ needs, wants, and desires are evolving.
  4. Create a product roadmap competency to deliver incremental value at each release.
  5. Develop a comprehensive launch and sales support process.
  6. Design product support when you design the product.
  7. Use technology platforms and vendor partners to accelerate time-to-value.

This is the first in a series of reports based on this research. I’ll also be digging into org design and metrics for digital product success. If you’re leading digital product development in your firm, I’d like to hear from you. And if you’d like to learn more about this research, please reach out to me (Forrester clients can request an inquiry to discuss how to apply this research to your own business).