Lessons On Building Digital Products — And Future-Proofing A Better Mousetrap
While a lot of firms are hurting right now, a few are doing better than most. Digitally advanced firms typically outpace others when it comes to revenue growth. While many firms focus digital efforts on improving customer experiences, advanced firms also look for opportunities to drive new sources of revenue from new digital products.
But designing and building successful digital products isn’t easy. Despite being digital to the core, many software companies still struggle with product development. Unlike physical products, digital products require a more rapid development cycle and continuous improvement. Pricing models are tricky, and the underlying technology platforms evolve often faster than customer expectations.
In my latest research on digital product development vendors, I had the opportunity to evaluate a wide range of so-called digital products. I say “so-called” because it’s very easy to confuse a new digital app for a product. While many apps bring enormous value to customers (e.g., mobile banking apps), they are typically an accessory or channel through which to access the core product or service of the business. For this research, I wanted to focus on how vendors help clients quickly build digital products that drive direct revenue.
I even purchased one of the products — literally a better digital mousetrap (ironic given the title of an earlier post: How To Build A Better (Digital) Mousetrap). This product highlighted more than anything the challenge of managing digital products. When the product was launched, it relied upon 2.4 GHz routers to connect to in-home Wi-Fi. But since its launch, home Wi-Fi has evolved to include 5 GHz bands. My own Wi-Fi test setup included 2.4 and 5 GHz. Despite disabling the 5 GHz band, I was unable to successfully connect the mousetrap to my Wi-Fi. To meet customer expectations, the manufacturer should have already upgraded the product to include the push-button easy Wi-Fi setup available with many modern Wi-Fi routers. But this physical product manufacturer would appear to be missing the importance of continual roadmap investment for its digital products.
This is why I included product support and roadmap development among the 29 criteria used to evaluate each vendor in The Forrester Wave™: Digital Product Development Services, Q2 2020. Forrester clients can use the Excel model to tailor the weightings on each of the 29 criteria to match their own needs and develop a custom ranking of the 12 vendors we covered.
I’ll be reviewing the research in an upcoming webinar on July 15 (also available on-demand): Drive Revenue With New Digital Products.
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