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How people drive product innovation

Ever wondered what makes certain products CLICK? What are the reasons people flock to buy & use these products? What did the makers of such products get right? I’ve been spearheading a team of constantly innovating technology experts at Carmatec, who, on a day-to-day basis, conceptualize and create products from the scratch to give LIFE to people’s ideas and bring them to fruition in the form of software and applications. And I can tell you from my experience that at the very core of it all, lies the team’s ability to envision products that can engage the customers, to present them with a user experience that stands out against the others and to nurture their interest in the product to continue using it.
This article is inspired by a course on Design Thinking & Product Innovation from MIT Sloan, and it aims to discuss how the application of design thinking can help build great products and a captivating user experience.

Key challenges for innovation

As we delve deeper into various aspects of product design and innovation, we realize that there are 3 key challenges for innovation which need to be surpassed to achieve success with a new product. Finding the right answers to these 3 challenges, more than by a factor of 80%, decides the success or failure of the new product.

These challenges revolve around the achievement of the following 3 aspects of a product while developing it:

1) People Desirable                            2) Technically Feasible                                     3) Commercially Viable

I would like to cover all three aspects in detail separately. And in this section, I’ll focus on the “People Desirable” aspect of a product design. And this covers the key questions we are looking to find answers for, and how it can eventually lead into an innovative product design.

The ‘People Desirable’ aspect focuses on the need for the product in the market by identifying

  • the customers needs & pain points – based on which to figure exactly what problem is the product going to solve.
  • the target customers – understanding whether they are the main-stream users of the product or the lead users looking for new experiences in advance of others. This aspect will influence the design of the product and features chosen for the product.
  • the latent or hidden needs of the customers – these are needs that the customer does not know yet but by addressing to these you get an opportunity to delight your customers and add an element of innovation to your product at the same time.
  • the stakeholders of the product – the stakeholders of a product will include the users, manufacturers, retailers, service-centres etc

Interviewing the customers is a great way of finding out the people desirability of a product idea, and if we can list down the customer needs by interviewing different profiles of the end consumers, product manufacturers and people who service the product, it becomes an excellent base to come up with the primary, secondary and latent need for a product.

As quoted by Steve Jobs, “Great products come from welding two points of view—the technology point of view and the customer point of view”, if we can get the customer point of view and design products around that, it’s a great start to get the technology right as well!

In the next section, we’ll see how to translate the customers point of view into a great implementation strategy.

Stay Tuned!

Indu Aromal, COO at Carmatec Inc.

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