We are long past the days of creating a light bulb and the battery, and completely disrupting life as we know it. So, how does this reflect in our global marketplace? Most software service providers spend their time thinking of ways of workflows innovation or to connect multiple platforms in new ways that most users may not even realize how much work went into such an innovation.
In turn, the rapid progress of technology is taking place before our eyes and advancements are coming at us faster than ever! However, adapting to these challenges by moving from R&D to using such technology in practice is probably the biggest challenge for ISVs. In this article, we will discuss the upfront challenges we face in software innovation and the “secret” to solving these challenges.
It is our goal, on every project that comes through our doors, to be successful. However, work must be done to create the best product that will suit each client’s requirement. A generic approach doesn’t fit in with today’s market requirements.
To get started on a project, we address these two questions:
This high-level analysis, along with other research such as SWOT analysis among others, is essential in determining the direction to take with the development of the innovation.
As an example, let’s say manufacturers need a way to consolidate data streaming from manufacturing equipment on the line.
Why do they need this information? This is an excellent question to answer because it will drive the purpose of product innovation in entirety.
In this scenario, market research indicates that this is needed because they desire to have instant access to metrics for line waste, enabling their line managers to make adjustments proactively to minimize the waste yield, resulting in thousands of dollars saved each month.
Now we have a specific focus on this solution. In the background, development teams can meet and determine if creating a platform that would enable big data sources to be “plugged in” to this solution would be best for long-term market share or if a piece of software should be written with this one job in mind.
One thing that comes to mind is that cloud-based software is becoming the standard. However, do manufacturers work that way within their network topology? If blueprints or other classified information are involved in the manufacturing process, a cloud-based solution would probably not ‘hold water’ with the IT leadership. After further market research involving your IT teams and development staff, it is decided that a premise-based solution connected to the customer's ERP and manufacturing equipment as a service is obviously going to have the appropriate application for this niche.
This is just one example of how many opportunities there are to ultimately drive innovation in the right direction, ensuring its success.
You can remember the key to a successful software project deployment of the three T’s.
Test, test, and test.
Almost immediately after its development is underway, product testing plans should be built with all parties’ approval. For example, can the customer create an isolated dummy system that can be used for deployment testing, to determine how the deployment will go in the real world? Perhaps a “sandbox” network can be set up for development staff to access to virtually roll out the innovation as often as they like until the process meets the approval of all involved.
And, if in-house development is a no-go, then clients can approach a reputed company to do the product testing for them.
After the solution is deployed in the field and doing its job, the work isn't over for the software service provider. It is best to stay on the pulse of the user's pain points to determine if the market is ripe for more innovation or augmentation of the existing solution. This should be a cyclical process and should be driven with the intention of providing augmented customer service as compared to just a sale.
Innovation is hard work! Since there is no ‘crystal ball’ or common ‘formula’ that gives us the outcome of a software project, we must rely on the best practices in this article as well as others that have been learned over the years. Our experience helps clients circumnavigate the tricky and challenging process of product innovation by helping you, every step of the way.