What is a digital product strategy? It can be boiled down to just a few elements:
- A clear understanding of your audience.
- A set of constraints to help you articulate what your digital product isn’t.
- An approach with enough flexibility to account for learning and enough rigidity to measure results.
These elements are critical. If Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had approached Uber with anything less than an innovative strategy, they probably would have built an app for taxi companies.
Fortunately, they took a different approach. Their focus on innovation and continuous improvement has allowed Uber to grow quickly and truly disrupt an industry.
If you’re developing a digital product, you’ll need all the elements of an innovative digital product strategy to make an impact. But, how can this be done?
Innovative digital product strategy based on unarticulated customer needs
An innovative digital product strategy goes deeper than the surface level problem you’re trying to solve. This can result in strategies that don’t make sense from the point of view of leadership. Why?
When creating a strategy you’ll look at the purpose of the product, the customers it will serve, and the resources that you have available to fulfill that purpose. These are things that any reasonably qualified business leader can see and they may come to the exact same conclusion as you do. That’s because game-changing innovation never comes from navel gazing internally and requires getting outside of your organization.
Innovation comes from looking outside your organization to your customers. We frequently use the term “unarticulated customer need” to describe the things that customers want and need without even knowing it themselves.
To create an innovative strategy, it’s not about knowing what your customers are saying. You need to know what they’re not saying. The things that they’re feeling, thinking, and desiring.
What happens when your digital product strategy isn’t innovative?
Let’s look at an example: Fitbit. They have a solid core business, tons of customer data, and a respected brand. Based on that, they’ve decided that digital coaching is a logical addition to what they do.
To achieve this goal they acquired two startups (Switch2Health in 2013 and FitStar in 2015) in an attempt to incorporate their coaching infrastructure into Fitbit’s business model. Then in 2018, Fitbit announced it’s premium coaching offering.
Has this digital product driven positive business results? Judging by their stock price dropping from nearly $50 in 2015 to $5.88 at the time of writing this article it hasn’t. Recently, Fitbit acquired Twine Health indicating a pivot from fitness coaching to healthcare technology.
This can’t all be attributed to a coaching platform, but we can say that it hasn’t protected Fitbit from market pressures. The problem here isn’t that coaching is a bad idea, it’s that Fitbit assumed coaching would be a way to sell more physical products. This is what we call a self-limiting belief. An innovative mindset would have helped them suspend some of these limiting beliefs and view their product more objectively.
How can you avoid making critical mistakes with your digital product strategy?
5 elements of an innovative digital product strategy
Digital products succeed when they have a complete strategy that takes into account all of these variables. This allows business leaders to test ideas and pet projects against a holistic view of their business.
The most successful strategies typically include these five elements:
- Vision. Do you know the unarticulated needs of your customers, can you clearly see the digital product’s core purpose in their lives, and has your team overcome its self-limiting beliefs
- Cross-functional skillset. Does the product team bring together technology, operations, creative, business, and customer perspectives?
- Culture that values learning. Do you understand that learning new things drives innovation instead of rehashing what you think you know?
- Business structure that promotes learning. Does your team have the freedom to learn, experiment, and fail all while being incentivized to do so?
- Create the right amount of constraints. Do you have constraints in place to keep you from developing a bloated or unrelated solution?
Improving your strategy through a proven process
GoKart Labs believes the key to any digital product is bringing in the right skill sets at the right time. It takes flexibility and a strong understanding of the process to do this effectively. That flexibility turns us into an asset for our clients.
Creating an innovative digital product isn’t easy the path from a-z is never obvious. Enter your email below to learn how to connect your digital product strategy with business outcomes in our free guide on Digital Strategy That Drives Growth.