A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog called “what will they think of next?” This blog was well read by you and I think it’s because it triggers a love for gadgets and innovation. I have a confession to make: I am a little bit addicted to looking at Indiegogo. For those of you who do not know what Indiegogo is, it’s a crowdfunding platform that allows companies, both big and small, to really test ideas in the market and to see if there are people that are willing to buy. But what does that have to do with IT and strategy? Read on and you will see.
Normally when you do product development, you of course do market research to see what your consumers or customers would like and if they would like a product that you’re envisioning. Not all companies do that. Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple had a different opinion stating that: ‘consumers do not know what they want’. From that perspective, the idea that you can show a prototype to a group of interested people who can then opt in to buy it, seemed logical. The risk for you as a company is small, especially when you design the crowd funding to only continue when you reach your target amount.
So, the Indiegogo site as well as others like kick starter, are full of (brilliant) ideas of entrepreneurs wherever product or service that will change the world. Or at least that is the general idea. To my amazement we also see bigger companies using these platforms to introducing services. A good example is Aftershokz, the maker of bone conductivity headphones who have been in the market for several years and already have a number of viable products in the market. I must say I’m a little bit puzzled about that strategy, but it might be a very good way to reach early adopters for a new product like the sunglasses with bone conductivity headphones that they have developed.
And it is exactly products like that, that that grabbed my imagination and interest. When you look at it, you can find some amazing new ideas. Some of them high-tech, some of them considerably low-tech. But there is also ‘more of the same’ technology. What I mean by that is yet another Bluetooth enabled wireless noise canceling headphone. You have to believe the manufacturers when they say it is much, much better than the current manufacturers. What is currently hot at Indiegogo? The Hush Iced blanket to help you sleep better. A pocket-size cleansing robot that will kill bacteria while traveling. And of course, the toothbrush that promises that six seconds of brushing is enough. Each of these three have been more than 100% funded. Actually, from almost 4 ½ thousand percent funded for the blanket to 7200% for the toothbrush and a whopping 39,000% for the cleansing robot. Do I want these things? I am probably not interested. But every now and then there are things that trigger your enthusiasm and make me reach for my wallet to support products.
These are examples of innovation. Companies that see the amount in the market and use the crowdfunding platform to test the viability of their ideas. Recently I have heard an item on the Dutch radio channel BNR News Radio about the toothbrushes that this is an actual issue. Dental hygiene still lacks a lot for many people, including children. So, if you would have something that will shorten the time of brushing but still removes the dental plaque, that is a win-win situation for everyone.
Back to IT
But what does that have to do with IT and strategy? The examples have some IT in it but they’re not very heavy on IT, especially the blanket. The link with IT and strategy has to do with the way you define new products and services. Let’s take as an example the API manager from WSO2 that will allow you to manage monitor and monetize your APIs. Listening to your developers is something that is vitally important because they are the users of the functionality that you are offering to them. It is really doesn’t matter where they can use it for free or that they actually pay for the use. By experimenting pretty much in the same way that entrepreneurs are experimenting on crowdfunding platforms with new products and services you can also experiment with APIs.
Listen to your developers
Ask developers what they would like. This will give you an idea of the things they’re looking for. Perhaps also go the ‘Steve Jobs’ way so to say, think of new services that you can create and that perhaps will add value to them. Offer them for instance in a prototype API or even make an API already available for them to try it out. This is the way that you can grow the use of your APIs without breaking the bank or running high risks.
But of course, you need an enterprise grade capable API Manager to support your goals. If you want to and learn more about the criteria of such a product, please read our API Management selection guide.