The Innovation Dilemma – going beyond customers’ feedback
Unlike other industries, when your business is about turning own and third parties data assets into insights to help your customers make better decisions, you need to harmonize two quite often opposing innovation channels: your customers and your data. In this post we explain what we call the data-insights innovation dilemma and how we deal with it in our Big Data Lab.
“Actually I didn’t tell you I needed it, because I didn’t know it was even possible”
Intriguing as it sounds, data monetization companies are getting used to this sentence even after several years in the insights business. It perfectly summarizes the innovation challenge we are constantly facing when we engage with our customers in the product development journey: they are just not familiar with what we call “the art of the possible”… Or the way I see it, they gave up long time ago on certain insights because they considered them to be just not feasible! But for example, take a retailer… “What if I told you the proportion of people that visited your store and went to a competitor within a period of 30 days”, “What if I gave you a quantified analysis of the effect of your last campaign in the postal sectors of your catchment area”, “What if I could tell you where the biggest crowds of your target group dwell in the city at any particular hour”, etc
24×7? – “well, that’s new”
Staying in the retail domain… nobody could think of such insights being available 24×7! … this would be fantastic, wouldn’t it? But voilà! this is our challenge: how to help our customers making better decisions based on much more granular, much more up-to-date, much more realistic insights. So far, decisions have been made based on experts’ opinions leveraging what’s available (partial, static, incomplete, out-of-date) and relying on soft KPIs (surveys, social media perception, etc) or hard KPIs but very far away from the action (like number of sales, etc) to measure the results. We can give these experts the right tools to make better decisions and more importantly, a way of instantly measuring the results, or in other words, the chance to monitor and continuously improve the results of their decisions. But it’s up to the insights customers to embrace the change and adapt the decision making process to this new player and we need to take this route with them.
Creating unprecedented insights is just haft of the job… If we are serious about driving innovation, we need to understand how what we claim to be “actionable insights” can actually drive actions and how the folks leveraging insights for business decision making can be best supported.
“Wow! You found an awesome solution for a problem I don’t have”
This is in a pretty exaggerated fashion what can happen if you try to innovate out of your own understanding of your data assets, without taking into account the business context and losing sight of what your insights are going to be used for. Creating nice solutions that work awesomely to solve problems nobody has identified as a problem is an unnecessary waste of time which prevents you from focusing on what really adds value to your customers. What can you do? Fail faster! Make sure you create a dummy product showing the most relevant functionality, without making many concessions on the user experience, and try to understand the value of your potential product. Please notice that I do NOT mean the typical agile Minimum Viable Product (MVP) you would also validate the technical feasibility with… I recommend a streamlined version of it where you just test the value of your product.
The “so what” problem
Maybe way too “in black and white” expressed, but one pops up more often than you think when you present your insights product to a customer… “I know it’s related to my business; I know it’s really valuable having this information, but I don’t know how to take action on it… hence, my so what“. If you find yourself in this situation, you clearly didn’t do your home-works: engaging early to understand how your to-be-created KPIs play a role in the decision making process and more importantly, how to plan their adoption. The final presentation of your product shall be held by your customer in front of her/his stakeholders explaining how your insights are already changing the way of running the business.