What is a Digital "Big Idea"?

Josh Doesn't Get It
Do you remember this classic scene from the movie Big? Do you remember Josh sitting in a product review meeting and asking the tough question -

"I don't get it. Well what's fun about that?"

I love this clip because it illustrates all the complexities of developing products that are both innovative and that customers love.

The Product Manager can get it all wrong even when armed with all the latest research and data on consumer trends. This clip illustrates the failure to understand the customer value proposition and the competing landscape and develop something that customers can get easily. In this case, the kid loves robots and bugs, but also seeks something that stretches his imagination. The mashup of futuristic robotics with the prehistoric insects and animals is a hit. The product designers "get it" immediately.

The aha moment for the product owner is when the user "gets" the utility.

"It can pick up a car and crush it like that!" 

Defining "Big Idea" Digital Products and Services 

How does developing toys in the '80s resemble defining digital products, services, and businesses in this transformational era?

Research and design around digital products and businesses has to consider the "how" it helps users achieve their goals first before defining the "what" is the service. The customer more likely cares about "how" a product or service allows them to compete better, complete a job more efficiently, do something faster, reduce risk in the supply chain, etc.

But the customer is then interested in "how" it fits the existing environment in people, process and technology because no product or service exists in an isolated ecosystem.  A "big idea" in digital is a highly versatile product or service that can answer the "how" for a wide range of customer needs. It should define "what" it is by its configuration versatility to specific customer needs, its enablement in the enterprise's technology ecosystem, and its usability for end users to be successful without a lot of training.

If your a digital product owner, your investment priorities have to address both the "how" you will make customers successful and "what" the service's capabilities are that drive versatility, enablement, and usability.

And remember, there is a lot of competition out there.

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