Enter “the percentage of new products that fail” into your favorite search engine, and you will see research that indicates that anywhere from 80 to 95% of new products fail. So how do you ensure your product is one of the few that succeeds? I have yet to find a magic formula, but in my experience as a product manager, there are a few shared traits that accompany most successful new product introductions .
Know your customer – There is a famous quote from Henry Ford “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” As customers, we tend to focus on improvements to what we have available to us and don’t always know how to verbalize exactly what we need. Because of this, we often must dive deeper into understanding both the job to be accomplished, as well as the users accomplishing said job. Moreover, we must develop an understanding of what users consider important and/or essential to accomplishing the job in question. Do customers put a premium on efficiency, speed, accuracy, ease of use, safety, accessibility, cost, or all of the above? There are many methodologies for determining this. Some qualifiers that we use at DME Forensics include customer personas, customer journey maps and voice of the customer (VOC). We also utilize an ideas portal, where customers can share ideas for improvements or requested features as well as vote on features others have proposed.
What is the competition? – Sometimes this is obvious, sometimes it is not. I once read a business case on Southwest Airlines, where they viewed their primary competitor for regional air travel, not as competitive airlines, but traveling by car. This illustrates how the best alternative to your solution may be a company offering a similar solution, or it may be something entirely different. When Jimmy and Tyler, our founders, first developed DVR Examiner 1.0, they found their biggest competitor for uncovering video evidence from DVRs was not a competing software, but rather the ability to play video directly through the DVR that recorded said footage. Recovering footage through DVR Examiner offered a faster, less tedious recovery process as compared to attempting to recover from the DVR itself, highlighting an obvious value proposition.
Sweat the details – Every successful product team I have ever been a part of made their knowledge of customer needs and competitive solutions the basis of their product. I know this sounds like a given, but it is not always the case. Developing a product involves so many decisions concerning options, alternatives, and trade-offs that it becomes easy to lose focus. To combat this, outlining the minimal viable product, or MVP, often helps keep everyone focused on the most important aspects of the product. The word minimal is somewhat misleading. It doesn’t mean that the MVP is the minimal product, rather it is the minimal set of requirements for the product that must be included for the product to be released. By establishing this at the beginning of the development process, you set the bar for the product. It requires discipline and focus, and is made tremendously easier by establishing clear, effective processes, thorough testing, and an enthusiastic team. All of which we are lucky to have established at DME.
This particular blog is extremely timely as we finish up development on DVR Examiner 3.0, scheduled for release early next year. I’d love to take this opportunity to invite you to sign-up to be part of our beta test program and be among the first to see how we have incorporated the ideas in this article into our next generation of product.