In 2017, it’s no secret that businesses are failing to capitalise on their data. All companies now sit on piles of data that they could be using to optimise their businesses, gain customer insights and create products that attract new customers. Yet, despite the availability of this data, it often takes companies too long to develop new digital propositions – if they’re developed at all. As such, carefully considered brands often struggle to differentiate themselves in the digital sphere, and don’t pull ahead of the competition.
What is the answer to this? The solution is to take a lesson from the start-ups of today, who use Lean methodology to create new propositions and services that enhance customer, and employee, brand experiences. Lean methodology was pioneered by Steve Blank and then popularised by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup. It means quickly developing and prioritising new ideas based on customer insight and rapid feedback. The approach differs from Agile methods, which instead guide the build phases after Lean has paved the way forward. And it’s not only in the speed of development that we should take inspiration from start-ups and digitally native businesses. Their use of data – in terms of taking opportunities and powering new products – can also be emulated. Netflix is a good example, as the company makes production and commissioning decisions based on customer data, while also using that same data to power the algorithms that make the consumer experience better.
Challenges faced by Brands
The competition has got quicker and stronger, and the solution lies in understanding the methods that more nimble rivals are using. Large businesses face two ever-present challenges: expanding their customer base and making their internal operations more efficient. These core challenges are then added to by the particular problems of the age, which are as follows:
Despite data being available, insights are hard to find
Businesses find it hard to communicate the right data to the right customer segment. Businesses (both B2C and B2B) often don’t possess formal customer segments that respect the different needs of expert and novice users respectively. This means that everyone sees the same information output – from a time-poor executive to an expert analyst. Real-time data isn’t being used to impact business decisions, and, where it is being used, it is often not reaching the right people in the right format.
Unclear brand distinction
The same attention that goes into visual branding often doesn’t go into making sure that digital products are distinct. Brand distinction should be a big part of the planning stage.
Digital products are developed in slow, inefficient ways
Many companies still develop digital products using the ‘waterfall’ methodology, which requires detailed information gathering from internal staff, thorough documentation and point-by-point execution. This method is flawed on a number of levels. For a start, the consulted staff expect their points and concerns to be addressed in the build, so a significant backlog is created. In addition to this, any software build of sufficient complexity will require changes as things progress, which in turn, is not accounted for in the initial inflexible documentation. While it is Agile processes that ensure builds happen incrementally as soon as they are started, it is Lean methodology that means the right things are started.
Not understanding users’ needs
Many companies’ listening abilities are found in the marketing department, traditionally rooted in brand trackers and surveys. Using Lean development methods, the marketing department can complement traditional means with new design research and product analytics, which helps with new product development.
Lack of a product roadmap
Many businesses have experienced increased growth through mobile usage following the ‘responsive’ designs of their key channels. Now that most businesses have achieved this, they need to further their competitive edge. Roadmaps need to be based around invention and iteration that happens quickly and is focused on user needs.
To learn more about the benefits of Lean concept development and how we have seen it in practice at large brands, download the rest of our white paper here.