As Marc Andreessen said, “Software is eating the world.” For most firms, the software products they employ are key strategic investments, and they require a fundamental shift in how we think about how the software touches our customers or our employees as an extension of our brand.
Continuous Innovation is the future of software product development, but it requires some changes to how your organization thinks. Here are seven steps your organization can take in order to prepare for a shift to Continuous Innovation:
- Choose to compete on experience. In fact, if you intend to build a relationship with your consumer and expect to defend a fair margin, you need to be competing on experience. Make sure your team understands the importance of each experience in developing relationships with your customers.
- Place the consumer first. If you want to compete on experience, you have to start with an understanding of your consumers. The decisions you make must put the actual user of the software ahead of the other stakeholders in your ecosystem as a starting point. If you can’t do this for budgetary or political reasons inside of your organization, then you will struggle to gain adoption or engaging your users in any meaningful way. If you want to compete on experience, you have to put the customer first.
- Set your north-star metric on advocacy. When you have earned advocacy from your users, they look forward to using your products and services and they are eager to help you improve them. You will need their voice and their help to achieve success in the long term. No great products are ever built without an ecosystem of staunch advocates both on your team and from your consumer base.
- Create alignment with your team on your customer’s journey. Use the loyalty ladder or your own language to clearly measure how you intend to achieve advocacy. Establish a measurement framework and a culture of moving them up the loyalty ladder.
- Generate momentum for your product. Strategically, you must have a vision that everyone is aligned on and a team motivated by and signed up to work toward the vision. Tactically, you must have a clear roadmap and the capabilities, including the skills, tools, and capital needed to build it. Without any of these four components, you are not going to achieve much.
- Establish proficiency and best practices for managing the VOC (Voice Of The Customer.) Keep your product vision and roadmap healthy and dynamic. Innovative ideas can be derived from surveys, focus groups, feedback, and analytics, and each of those can provide data and raw materials for ideas. The best ideas, however, are derived from analyzing data and regularly exposing your leaders to structured exercises designed to identify new innovations to experiment on.
- Keep your organization’s mindset focused on growth and learning. You are not executing a one-and-done project, you are creating an experience platform for your users to help you scale well into the future. It needs to be budgeted for and built with the full intention of being a key strategic asset to continually learn from and invest in.
Rinse and Repeat.