Platforms or Products?

The latest buzzword for the past decade has been Platform . Some best examples of platforms are Google, Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Youtube,Alibaba ,Paypal. When compared to Platforms , products seem like an outdated concept. But in reality is one better than the other? Lets Explore what the hype is about….

Platforms facilitate network behavior

Platforms promote interactions between individuals X, Y , Z irrespective of professional and cultural background . The allow people to express their opinions on virtual walls, thereby broadcasting messages in form or another. They also lure potential customers, since existing ones serve as advocates for the platform Ex: Facebook

Platforms offer a Two-sided market

Acts as a stage for various kinds of stakeholders to come together and carry out their businesses. The host/producer uploads their spare resources and the guest/consumer avails the same, hence profiting both sides of the market. The supply, demand and value are controlled by the platform. An example of the same is Airbnb

Platforms serve as Innovation catalysts

Since they serve as a means or base for collaboration and interaction , they also facilitate innovation. They are easily scalable and expandable to any other horizon. Due to the close collaboration involved, new ideas could arise which would benefit both sides of the market. Ex SAP community

Platforms generate multiple revenue streams

Unlike products, which rely on single revenue streams, platforms can serve multiple purposes. An existing platform can be expanded into other revenue generating streams. For ex Linkedin which was a platform for professionals to network, also introduced LinkedIn Learning, which offers numerous courses for professionals, thereby generating revenue for the platform

Platforms thrive on the concept of ‘Emergence’

The value derived from a platform could be unexpected and an emergence of its inherent products. The main reason for the emergence being network effects and opening the platform for 3rd party collaboration. One of the best examples where this can be observed is Amazon, which started out as a website to sell books and today it has entered all possible markets with its subsidiaries and products such as Amazon Fresh, Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Kindle, Amazon Audible, Amazon Web services, Alexa etc

In conclusion, as it can be seen by the above points and examples, the power of a platform is much higher than the product itself.


10 Best Ways to Test your Idea

Anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time

Being a tester for the past decade, I can say that testing is not only inevitable , but also important to create and sustain a good reputation with your customer and in the market , as a whole. Once you have come up with an idea , it is crucial to test it WITH THE CUSTOMER. It could be tested in multiple ways, which I will walk you through. In addition, before testing it is imperative to clearly define assumptions , acceptance criteria and get the testing process right. As mentioned in my post 10 reasons why Ideas fail , erroneous testing could lead to catastrophic results.

1 Prototype

One of the ways to test your idea is to create a mockup of the product which is hardware or software and then present it to your customers in order to receive their feedback.

2 Sample

Distribute samples of the actual product to different target audience and get their opinion on the same.

3 Simulate

Alternatively you can also run simulation models , which gives you a clear direction on design , visual feedback on the product performance. It is also cheaper compared to prototyping and sampling.

4 Survey

Conduct a survey or a poll mentioning the gist of the idea and ask the customer to choose their stance regarding it. In case of multiple ideas, this serves as the best option

5 Social media

Another means of getting direct (via comments) and indirect feedback is via social media by posting your idea with pictures or video or by running advertisements and checking the number of clicks.

6 Market research – learn previous product failures successes

We could also leverage history by researching if there were any similar products in the market, did they succeed or fail? If so , what were the reasons?

7 Events/Meetup – release

Ideally new products need a platform or a forum to be released/launched and events/meetups are perfect for that, as they grow your reach and enable you to introduce your product well.

8 Personalize

If personalization’s/customizations are possible , it would be useful to personalize the product and send across samples to the appropriate customer segments and evaluate their reaction towards it.

9 Pitch

In cases where funds have to be acquired through venture capitalists, it is suitable to introduce the product to them . Besides, pitching to influencers also has its own benefits because once they are on board , they could help promote it to a wider audience.

10 Expert Opinion

Sometimes, for better assessment and to build confidence , we can present the product to the experts and obtain their analysis on it.

Hope you got a better idea on testing. The above mentioned methods could be for testing multiple versions of the same product or components within the same version of the product or testing at multiple stages of the product development.

10 Ways to Unleash your Creative self

Creativity is one of the key ingredients of innovation as mentioned in my previous post 10 secret ingredients of innovation. Some people are blessed with ounces of creativity , however some are not. But on the brighter side, creativity is a skill which can be inculcated as a habit or enhanced further. Below are some pointers for the same.

1 Patternize – This can be achieved by observing the environment around us, recognizing patterns , so that we can co-relate with what we learnt before. Patterns opens doors to new discoveries. For example, if you see the names Apple and Samsung, you instantly know that both are reputed phone manufacturers.

2 Combine concepts – This can be achieved by just putting little more effort into your thoughts. It has been observed that innovations happen at the convergence of concepts . For example, the first computer program in the world was written by Ada Lovelace , who combined her interests in poetry and math.

3 Disrupt Yourself – If you want to change the world with your product, you have to change yourself first. It always said that change comes from within. Find ways to do common things differently , change your viewpoints and upgrade your belief system. For example just because you couldn’t learn languages easily in school, does not mean you never can. There are always ways to improve it, especially in todays world of possibilities.

4 HabitizeFirst you make your habits , then your habits make you is a popular quote. It is important to be organized , define and monitor your goals on a regular basis. Practice your craft in order to perfect it. For example, every day write down 2 ideas which come to you regarding the problem. Over a week, you already have more than a dozen, which gives you many options to test.

5 Practice Gratitude – Gratitude spurs innovation Did you hear it right ? The more thankful you are , higher the productivity . Let go of all the negativity and insecurities within you and embrace positivity and gratefulness. For example list down the 5 things you are thankful for everyday.

6 Exercise – You might already be aware of this , yet I am reinforcing the fact that exercise leads to better health , which boosts your brain activity, lightens your mood and favors creative thinking. You can either follow an exercise regime or practice a sport which elevates creativity.

7 Be an artist – I am not asking you to take a white canvas and paint your heart out with colors. I am just saying art therapy once in a while can enhance your creativity. It could be music, dance, paint, handicrafts , travel, poetry , drama, photography, reading , writing etc . Try to take up DIY projects and work on them consistently.

8 Answer lies in the Questions – As children we always used to question everything around us. Somewhere along the way to adulthood we buried our inquisitiveness deeper and stopped feeding our curiosity. The moment you start to rethink and question existing and conventional practices, processes, ideas and try to answer them, the problem begins to be defined better, which leads to an apt solution.

9 Reinvent the wheel – Just because something was working this way for the past few years or decades, it does not mean its right. There is always a scope for a change . We tend to overthink , have vague assumptions and hold on to the past. Let got of all these empires of illusions and look at the problems with a fresh perspective.

10 Team-up – One of the best ways to come up with ideas is brainstorming in teams. We learn about other possibilities, which further inspires us to think more creatively and express ourselves better. Becoming part of creative forums or taking part in such workshops could also trigger your cells in the frontal cortex, which is the hub of creativity.

Lastly , I can assure you that if you could practice at least some of the above pointers, you will be able to see the results yourself and “CREATE” something worthwhile.

10 secret ingredients of innovation

It is obvious that there is no shortcuts to creating successful products; however the are some secrets for the same. The recipe of innovation is fulfilled by the presence of these essential ingredients , which make it fail-proof. An innovator is akin to a chef where all the ingredients have to be mixed at the right quantities to concoct the desired product. Lets take a close look at them.

1.Creativity – “Creativity is intelligence having fun” . Adding an artistic touch or thinking with a creative mindset can definitely give rise to innovative products. So embrace your passions, let your mind wander , build the fantasies in your head and turn it into reality. 10 Ways to Unleash your Creative self

2.Empathy – “You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.” Being empathetic culminates into creating products with greater value proposition . In my post Dare to Dream, I explain empathy in further detail.

3.Execution mindset – “Ideas don’t make you rich. The execution does“. An idea by itself is nothing. It needs to be given shape and a form, in order for it to be reviewed and accepted by customers. The execution of the idea has to be as precise as the idea itself, so that its presented in the correct form as envisaged.

4.Systems Thinking – “Learn how to see. Realize how everything connects to everything” . We are in a world where everything is connected to one another (about 50 billion devices are connected to the internet).Thinking in this mindset helps you co-relate and assess the benefits/risks of the consequences.

5.Tech savy – We are part of ” The great growling engine of change – Technology” . Todays world is fueled by the this tech engine , which is driving us forward. A basic knowledge of technology is a must for any kind of innovation , so that it can be leveraged and used wisely as part of the solution.

6.Problem solving mindset– “A problem well stated is a problem half solved“. In order to solve a problem completely, it is imperative to define it correctly. One should have a knack for identifying and defining problems. It should also be kept in mind that multiple solutions are possible and the most optimal one would succeed.

7.Application mindset – “Knowledge is like a painting. It does not good until its applied”. All the knowledge acquired through years of education and experience has to be applied in the right manner in order to fabricate a product, from idea to reality.

8.Perserverance -“The only guarantee for failure is to stop trying“. All ideas don’t turn into overnight successes . From the idea conception to its realization , perseverance is key . When you are trying to enter and conquer a territory where no one has set foot before, obstacles are inevitable , all of them have to be faced with the same grit with which you came up with the idea.

9.Risk taking mindset – “Take the risk or lose the chance” . Coming up with something new has its own cons, there is an equal probability of failure, as success. Hence the risks have to be gauged correctly and the appetite for risk has to be adjusted throughout the execution period.

10.Oppurtunistic – “Success is where preparation and opportunities meet“. Its necessary to keep a lookout for opportunities which arise at every stage from conception to realization , which helps you present and release the product to the right target audience at the right time.

So what are you waiting for? Mix all these ingredients and create your dream product.

Dare to Dream

Innovation is not about years and years of thinking which turns into a product. It is about those micro moments of creativity which sparks the mind ,leading to an eye-opening solution to an existing problem. Some tips to trigger the spark , make it a frequent visitor are as follows:

DEMOCRATIZE : If the product or service is not accessible/engageable by all then it might not be worth it. The core idea of innovation is to reach the masses and lend them a helping hand in tackling their problems. Democratization not only offers advantages such as lower cost , but it also generates a platform for people to collaborate and contribute

REFORM : There are no transformations without reform. Changing the status quo is the only way forward. Whether it is mindset, culture, process, product or service it has to be reformed for the greater good. This can be achieved by constantly challenging status quo.

EMPHATHIZE: It is crucial to understand the customer pain points, identify gaps and put yourself in their shoes in order to visualize their problem and come up with a stunning solution. This is one of the best social tools to drive change and innovate.

ADAPT: In todays world where things are rapidly changing, adapting and staying agile is the way forward for any sort of new conceptions. Rapid prototyping , testing, correcting and releasing the product is essential in order to save time. This fosters a fail-fast culture which serves as a basis for risk analysis and enables to envision and realize multiple future outcomes.

MONETIZE: Finally, without the innovation fetching you some kind of pennies in your pocket. The rewards can be physical money in your account or a huge list of people who are added to your social network , who will serve as advocates for your future products.

Hope the above steps enables you to shed light on your dreams and give birth to the innovator in you! To know more about the secret ingredients on innovation , check out the post 10 secret ingredients of innovation.