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Product Strategy
August 1, 2018

Innovation in a Digital Product World

Director of Client Partnerships

Several years ago, I wrote a blog post titled “Innovate or Die” or “Steal and Win.” The basic premise of that piece was to discuss if brands were better off in the long term from stealing innovative work or if they’re better off innovating on their own. For example, I talked a lot about Apple and how they didn’t innovate the smartphone. Now, I’m not saying they’re not innovative. They did take the smartphone to a new level. However, with their better marketing and design Apple wins every time. That said since I’ve been in a more technology (software) world over the last two years I thought that it was a good time to do a rewrite and look at this topic through the eyes of a technology consultant.

At Tandem, I get calls all the time from startups to Fortune 500 companies who are looking to bring digital innovation to the forefront of their business. Sometimes, they are looking to create better internal processes or sometimes they are looking for a ground-breaking, consumer-facing application. Now, I know that digital innovation is a mouthful of a term and its meaning is different to every person at every company. However, it is a tangible thing and it does have transformational changes that can be accomplished at companies of all sizes. Below is an example of a few companies that came to Tandem recently looking to innovate in a digital product world.

Digital Innovation in Practice

A large mapping company came to us last year looking to reinvent itself by creating a new consumer-facing offering that would engage existing users and attract a new target audience. They came to Tandem to employ our Innovation Design methodology to identify ways to re-enter the market with a social product. We hypothesized that social connectedness would set them apart. Additionally, our team was able to drill down and understand how people organize and store information and how this particular application set our client apart. Our findings enabled us to develop a full AI-driven product concept that would streamline a user’s calendar, personalize destination “wish lists,” and manage highly customizable preferences to make powerful dynamic activity suggestions.

Another organization that screens and processes applicants wanted to re-design and develop a system that was first put into production in 1996 and, as expected, has aged significantly since then. Also, the underlying technology was gaining out of support, and very hard to extend new features and security fixes. Through our Innovation Design methodology, we spent several months working with our client and local facility staff to fully understand the process from operations to policy. This leads our custom software development team to begin a multi-year process of implementing and deploying a robust experience to users who demand performance and responsiveness. Along with a new cloud-based infrastructure that would allow our client to deprecate data centers and significantly reduce costs.

Now, these are just two examples of how Tandem helped our clients use Digital Innovation. In the first example, their goal was to reinvent themselves to their current and new customer. In the second example, our client needed to rethink an internal system that was failing them. Both organizations saw the value of innovation in today’s competitive marketplace where users expect a product to do more than simply function. Both rose to the challenge and called in additional horsepower to bring their product to the next level. Where will your next big idea take your business?

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