Building Value in Digital Products
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Building Value in Digital Products

Today, we live in a world where great digital products are emerging from every part of our planet. The path to success then is discipline in designing and building digital products that solve customer needs better than anyone else.

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I’ve had the good fortune to work in software development and digital products for 20 years. At Modyo we’re in year 11, Yee-haw... we survived the start up phase and we’re growing every year. We began humbly and we’ve attracted a great international team focused on building digital products used by some of the largest clients in Latin America today.

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In fact millions of end customers use our software monthly without knowing that Modyo is behind the web sites and mobile applications that power the way they consume content, buy digital products, transact, transfer money or go through a digital onboarding process.


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5 thoughts about building great products

I want to share 5 thoughts about building great products. Anyone that has built a digital product for millions of customers across web and mobile devices hopefully understands that the endeavour is hard. The journey has a ton of details and you can’t simplify the process in the “Get Rich Quick - 5 Step Process to Success”. Although, I have some friends that did manage to “Get Rich Quick” and fill the rest of us with pure envy. Putting luck or the brilliance of certain entrepreneurs aside, below I’ll share some thoughts about building great digital products. Below are 5 ideas that you may find useful.

 Find the problem worth solving.

 Identify beloved customers willing to pay.

 Have a passion and interest in the problem.

 Design a Product Vision & Roadmap that makes sense.

 Establish honest metrics to guide your product development

1. Find the problem worth solving.

If you’re going to build a digital product hopefully you’re doing so to solve a big enough problem that your customers will value. Great products solve a big enough problem better than it’s alternative solution. It’s important to drill down into your features and understand how much of an impact these features will have on your target customers. You should clearly identify the features that will differentiate you from alternative solutions to the problem. How many people will be impacted if you build the product? 

2. Identify beloved customers willing to pay.

If you feel you’ve found the right problem, the true test is to interact with your target customers and assess how much value you’ve truly generated versus alternative products that offer a different solution to the problem. In other words, how much money by how many customers can your digital product generate? Pricing is never easy, but if you hope to have the resources to invest in the evolution of your product, you need to generate sales. The classic approach in a SaaS model is to give certain parts of the product for free to get your target customers hooked and then add higher value features that require a monthly payment. The point is that if you’re going to build a product for target customers you need to drill down and understand how they would value what you’re going to offer.

3. Have a passion and interest in the problem.

Great products have passionate, interested people behind the product investing countless hours to design and build a great solution for a declared problem. If you’re the product manager or CEO-Founder my advice is not to solve a problem where you have no real interest. You’re going to end up spending hundreds or thousands of hours if you succeed so it’s important that you’re motivated. To truly build incredible products, you want to have people that are willing to go the distance and engage customers, ask the right questions, test hypotheses, and establish an iterative loop of hypothesis - design - test - build - launch. As a product leader you need to make sure that you’re motivated and passionate for the products that you’re building. That you’re truly interested in the problems you’re going to solve for customers. 

4. Design a Product Vision & Roadmap that makes sense for target customers.

Let’s imagine that you’ve adopted the 3 previous ideas. Where the rubber hits the road requires a map to get to the destination complete with checkpoints and rest stops. A declared vision of the product acts as a compass but the roadmap is what different areas of your organization requires to understand what we’re building and for whom. In their book “Product Roadmaps Relaunched”, C. Todd Lombardo and Bruce McCarthy share the following thoughts why product roadmaps are important. 

They: 

- Put the organizations plans in a strategic context.

- Focus on delivering value to the organization and customers.

- Embrace learning as a part of a successful product development process.

- Rally the organization around a single set of priorities.

- Get customers excited around the product’s direction.

Lombardo, C. T, McCarthy B. (2018). Product Roadmaps Relaunched,  https://www.amazon.com/Product-Roadmaps-Relaunched-Direction-Uncertainty/dp/149197172X

5. Establish honest metrics to guide your product development.

Every product development book today emphasizes metrics. Metrics give you the capacity to assess whether you’re generating value for your target customers to create a sustainable product. The question is what are good metrics and how many KPIs should you establish? 

Building on the ideas of other smart product managers,

"For the new product person, we have one key piece of advice here, find a balance with the amount of data you analyze. Three to five objectives are usually sufficient...Sometimes you might have only one metric.(Your mileage may vary, but remember that the more metrics, the less focus you will likely give them.)”
Lombardo, C. T, McCarthy B. (2018). Product Roadmaps Relaunched, https://www.amazon.com/Product-Roadmaps-Relaunched-Direction-Uncertainty/dp/149197172X

To this end, I suggest less versus more. The point is to establish what KPIs are absolutely key to the business and for what purpose. It could be you want to measure the use your product. You can establish a metric that drills down into the actually use by certain target customers. You can then reach out to those target customers and start a feedback loop which feeds specific Product KPIs.

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At Modyo we’re dealing with the above ideas daily. As we build our own digital products and expand our customer base we’re faced with plenty of hard decisions as to what part of our platform adds the most value to target customers. We’re forced to drill down into the key question of product value. Because today we live in a world where great digital products are emerging from every part of our planet, we have to be disciplined on designing and building digital products that solve customer needs better than the rest - and this is the challenge of building the right value in your digital products.

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