How Ideation is the First Step to Digital Product Success

You recognize an opportunity in the marketplace for a new digital tool for your sales team, or feedback from customers has made it clear that it’s time to go from Build-o-Matic 1.0 to Build-o-Matic 2.0. You’ve looked at competitor solutions and have key features in mind. You have suggestions from salespeople and concerns from operations.

  • How do you go from concept and feature lists to a digital product development  roadmap? 
  • How do you ensure that the new  product will be adopted, used, and impactful? 
  • How do you avoid the mistakes made by others that result in unused and abandoned products ?

It can be easy to make the mistake of treating digital product implementation with less care and comprehensiveness than a “physical” product. The lack of tactile models to make judgments about makes it easy to skimp on planning. This is a trap many have fallen into.

The IDEAS Framework brings discipline and depth to conceiving, designing, building, and accelerating the launch of digital products, including sales enablement experiences, product configurations, promotion and financing tools, and manufacturing specification builders. 

The first stage in the IDEAS Framework is Ideation.

The takeaway

The IDEAS Framework brings discipline and depth to conceiving, designing, building, and accelerating the launch of digital products, including sales enablement experiences, product configurations, promotion and financing tools, and manufacturing specification builders. 

Ideation is the first stage in the IDEAS Framework.

Design Center Ideas Framework

Build a Shared Vision

Gathering all the information required for solid decision-making moving forward is a critical part of the Ideation process. The goal is to build a shared vision within your leadership team of a successful outcome and the roadmap to achieving it.

Successful ideation depends on collecting actionable information both internally and externally. 

  • What will wow customers? And accelerate purchase.
  • What will make the jobs of salespeople easier?
  • What will ensure operational efficiency and reduce error?And perhaps the most important question: “What is driving the need for this digital product at this moment?”

The Ideation phase requires deep communication with the expected users of the product (which includes identifying your intended market), an understanding of what competitors have to offer, the expectation of your stakeholders, and a realistic grasp of your organization’s capabilities.

Start with a Solid Business Case

One of the first steps in the Ideation process is developing a solid business case for the digital product, including leadership and sponsorship by executive-level management. An important aspect of a solid business case is being unreservedly honest about what is feasible for the organization and what would work for actual real-world users —and not imaginary users as you think they ought to be. As Donald Rumsfeld put it in another context: “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” Now is the time to make sure your “real-world,” though “virtual,” digital product has a place in the real world of real users. 

Define the Jobs to Be Done

A core task of Ideation is to define your user’s “jobs to be done” or  JTBD. This is fundamentally your most important task to start down a path of success. 

Think of it like this: users have a job they need to get done and they will be considering whether to  “hire” you via your product or service to solve their problem. Salespeople have jobs they’re trying to get done. And your operations and manufacturing teams have jobs often dependent and informed by the information they receive from sales.

When conceptualizing a digital product release, the needs of the user must be paramount.  And that means gathering significant information about what current and potential users like, want, and expect. It comes down to defining what you need to provide to do the jobs of your various users. For example, think of your sales team or any other group that will be using your product as users along with your customers as users.. If your salespeople refuse to adopt  your digital product, your end-user  customers won’t even see it.

Making that good first impression—which you only get one shot at—is a key moment in getting a user’s buy-in on believing your product will get the job done for them.

Which brings us back to your jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) framework. How does the Build-o-Matic 2.0 experience, benefits,  and features map to all those  jobs to be done?

Develop a Plan for Ideation Success

     1. Get Things Done Better with Realistic Timelines

To succeed, rollout plans have to be thorough and all-encompassing. One aspect of that is that their timelines must be realistic. Expecting the process of identifying a product’s audience, understanding its needs, and then building a segmented strategic activation plan to bring the right product to the right user base is not as simple as it sounds—and it doesn’t even sound that simple. Rome was not built in a day – neither will your digital product.

     2. Managing Change and Expectations

Any needed changes in management structure, additional human resources, and training required throughout the organization should be identified early in the process so that these adaptations can be carried out expeditiously during later phases of the project.

     3. Outline the Go to Market Approach

It’s never too soon to start thinking about how your great product will get the attention of the users who don’t yet realize they need it. Part of the Ideation process is outlining the direction that marketing will take so that end-users will learn about your new or enhanced solution. Initiating the creation of copy and determining the distribution channels that will reach your target audience should be one aspect of the initial envisaging of a new digital product.

     4. Define outcomes and KPIs

Finally, it is important during the Ideation phase to make sure there will be ways to quantify outcomes moving forward. It’s time to formulate key performance indicators (KPIs) that will serve as benchmarks as progress is made—and measured.

     5. Structure for Objectives, Ownership, Optics

A structure must be put into place that ensures organizational objectives are understood throughout your business and the mechanisms by which they will be achieved. A product ownership structure that makes clear who can act on this information is also required. The people entrusted with this responsibility must then get the KPIs they need to guide the ship as it gets under sail.

This chain of accountability will be crucial to carrying out the next four phases of the IDEAS Framework.

Next Step: Start the Design Stage

Using the information collected in Ideation, you begin your digital product design using outcome-driven innovation techniques. You identify how to solve your user’s jobs to be done by combining user experiences, your business processes, data flows, validated market assumptions, prioritized business goals, and enabling technologies to develop a clear digital project roadmap and implementation plan that will realize your successful outcome.

Ready to learn more about how the IDEAS framework can transform your digital projects? Talk to one of our strategists today.