5 Questions to Ask Before You Reinvent Any Product
A huge opportunity exists for entrepreneurs to tap the replacement cycle for products and services for various industries and customer segments. For this reason, existing providers need to gear up for what might be called "reinvention entrepreneurship."
The term describes how products and services might be reinvented to adapt to changes in the marketplaces, using the experience and expertise of those already serving the market. First, however, these entrepreneurs need to understand in detail what has changed in the user's world and what will speed up the replacement cycle.
Here are five questions to ask before getting started.
1. Has the user base changed or evolved?
User bases evolve in two different ways. Existing users tend to get better at using your products and services as they grow accustomed to those products' intricacies over time and as they define their own workarounds for any deficiencies the products might have. On the other hand, a whole new segment of users may appear who will discover your product and buy into its value proposition.
Reinvention requires studying existing users to determine who becomes an “expert” or “power” user over time. Simplification of advanced-use cases is needed here; so is action on any characteristics of those products breaking existing workflows and workarounds.
To address the needs of any new user segment, meanwhile, the entrepreneur needs to devise a better product strategy, which in turn may extend the product line, creating a new product that is designed, executed and messaged to appeal to the new user segment.
2. Has the purchase and onboarding decision process changed?
Reinvention is often required when the process to select and onboard a product or service changes. Recently, the mobile web has fundamentally changed how users discover and understand products. This shift has deeply changed how enterprise marketing functions to focus on content-led demand.
The reason is that more often than not, the product-discovery process for both consumers and enterprises starts with a search engine query. In addition, social referrals carry a lot of weight in both the consumer and enterprise spaces, with the buyer trusting a referral more than a blind search.
3. Has the interaction mechanism or value chain changed?
A change in how, when and where users interact with your products should also lead to a reevaluation of the product capabilities. A change in interaction or the expected interaction mechanism and flow can reveal possible new customer segments; such changes may also require the entrepreneur to isolate or abandon existing segments.
If the product’s value chain has changed -- it is now part of a different or changed value chain, or has found its way into a different supply chain -- entrepreneurs should revise the product’s value proposition and its integration with and into other products and services.
4. Have the experience expectations changed or evolved?
Reinvention often becomes necessary in terms of the location, time or channel determining where, when and how the product or service is accessed. For example, most web providers quickly realized that they needed to offer a mobile optimized experience, given the change in the form factor of the device being used to access their website.
Mobile brought with it a different set of technologies, requiring a reevaluation of critical capabilities and the identification of those capabilities that made the most sense for a mobile experience.
5. Have the support and training expectations changed?
Product reinvention is possible, and even required, in relation to consumer reporting of product issues, and what those consumers expect for the time frame and form in which the provider responds. Reinvention is particularly required when customers expect the product to be self-healing.
Self-healing means that the product will automatically record, detect and predict its own breakdowns, and will subsequently "heal" itself or proactively connect the user to product support. In this context, a changing landscape and environment will often require a reinvention of product training and the way in which help content is designed and delivered to users.
Adapting any product or service to satisfy consumers' core needs, but still account for how that user, the environment and the product's context have all changed, can breathe new life into the product/service. Adaption can further increase revenues and user satisfaction. But first comes reinvention entrepreneurship: the need to understand how and what has changed in the users’ world and apply those lessons to changing and reinventing that original product or service to keep pace with modern-day technology and culture.
Kumar Srivastava has extensive experience in product innovation, design and management and has built several products and services across security, social networking, mobile apps, etc.