An Idea without a Market

The climate for Entrepreneurship has never been so good. You cannot help but notice the explosion in innovation, as the free flow of thought is no longer hemmed in by geographical or other constraints.

In the last decade, the way emerging economies have flourished has demonstrated that:

  • Path breaking disruptive technologies can spring up anywhere
  • In this knowledge economy, innovation is the only path to pursue all progressive countries and firms, irrespective of size or sector.

Yet, for all the talk of innovation, very few ideas actually make a mark in our lives. Industry wisdom (across several sectors), has it that only 5 to 10% of new products survive for over a year, i.e. a failure rate of 90 to 95%! It is even more challenging when it comes to “Technology Products” because of technology changes so quickly that competitors can and do leave one another behind in the race to the top. Technology users too have become more demanding and discerning.

Pursuing an idea costs an enormous amount of time and money, which you could have invested elsewhere. Considering the failure rate of new ideas and the opportunity cost of those resources, you need to ask yourself if you are leading your company to an idea with no market!

How do I evaluate and identify a good idea that deserves investment and will gain customer confidence and lead to commercial success?

Ideation takes many forms

Most Product ideas can be classified into five major categories depending on how they have originated. The market, Consumer, Competition, Technology and Disruption are the five driving forces for an idea.

A Market Centric idea or innovation stems from a problem and a felt “Need”. It takes into account all four vital aspects – consumer, competition, technology and differentiation, since it meets a consumer need, keeps competitive advances in mind, uses technology to meet customer needs and creates differentiation in the process.

From a Product Management angle, it means spot‐on and rigorous planning to integrate all these aspects, which is the most vital process for the success of any Global Product. A focused product management approach allows companies to deliver the right product to the right audience at the right time. It minimises the scope of trial and error and the consequent wastage of resources.

Being Market Centric

Being market-centric involves being aware of the many players in the market ecosystem such as potential Customers, Industry veterans, Thought leaders, Competition, Buyers, Users, Analysts, Feedback Forums, Specialist Reviewers, Domain Experts and Internal team members who help to decipher the problem space and define a Market Need. The amount of quality effort and time spent at this stage proportionately defines the success of the Product.

However a word of caution, it is important to be sensitive to the “time to market” aspect and avoid parking a good idea on the drawing board for too long. Every idea is bound to become stale very soon or even be picked up by competition.

The Route to Sustainable Success

A Little planning and a features-based approach result in a gross mismatch between your offer and customer expectations. Endless planning, on the other hand, may mean that you miss the bus. Besides, customer needs and the market are not static. You need a 3600 approach that gives you a wide-angle view of the market as it changes and allows you to plan in a flexible manner.

Don’t let your “killer” idea fall by the wayside; the route to success is by simply focusing the right audience, at the right moment, in the right manner. Adopting a holistic, yet time-bound product planning approach ensures that when only a very small percentage of new ideas succeed, yours is one of them!



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