You’ve justified your business case for developing or acquiring a new product solution. You’ve tested the solution and everything works as anticipated. Now, it’s time to launch your new product. But you won’t cross the finish line unless sufficient resources and coordination are brought to bear during your product rollout. To guarantee success, financial institutions must work to understand how a product could fail, proactively address those risks and fully consider the needs of the customers for whom the product should have been designed.
When Technology Succeeds, but Products Fail
Often, technology meets product development goals, but the product still fails in the marketplace. In some cases, product creators become enamored with technologies that aren’t relevant to consumers, they push forward technologies that they don’t understand or they simply want a technology developed so they push for it even when the product it supports doesn’t fit. Other times, they may fail to obtain critical user input and feedback. In the end, the problem is the same: they didn’t put the consumer at the center of the product development process.
Some failures can be attributed to lack of clear definition of the target market and how to sell the product. Simply lobbing products over the wall to sales and marketing risks a rollout failure. The business case needs to include budget for marketing and sales to have a seat at the table early on.
Finally, solution providers have limited control over product rollouts when the solution is passed onto customers. Marketing support for end-user adoption may be lacking on the customer side.
Other times, the timing for introducing new technologies is ahead of the market or the product isn’t quite ready for launch, but pressures to get something to market prevail. Here are two examples of premature products:
- The iPod may have singlehandedly saved Apple. Released in 2001, it revolutionized the way people accessed their music. But have you ever heard of the Audio Highway Listen Up? It was the original mp3 player, developed in 1996 by Saehan Information Systems. It cost $249, had 60 minutes of capacity and music could be downloaded from the Audio Highway Store. Only 25 were made.
- Coin 2.0 is now sold out on Amazon, and its developers are partnering with MasterCard and Visa for wearables. The original Coin? It was a card that could store up to eight cards – credit, loyalty, gift. Initially crowdfunded in 2013, Coin was not delivered until 2015 – and it still had glitches. After testing 42 versions of Coin 2.0, the team relaunched it.
I challenge bankers and issuers to revisit your own inventory of products that initially failed to meet success hurdles. Ask yourself: Were you too early in launching to your market? Did you optimize your launch? Revisiting products in which you’re already made significant investment can reap immediate revenue given a rollout plan that maximizes opportunity.
Reducing Your Risk
To make sure problems like this don’t happen, it’s important to ask the following questions in order to reduce your risks:
- Is the product necessary just to keep pace with competition or is it a product that will help differentiate us? Answering this question affects how success is measured.
- Who is the target market for this product?
- How will we market it?
- Are certain features more important to one market than another? For example, mobile wallet features that appeal to millennials differ from those appealing to more mature consumers.
- How intuitive is the product to use? Last year, FIS launched a texting-based fraud product, which meets immediate consumer and retailer needs, and is intuitive to use; Consequently, its use has ramped up quickly.
- What are the “all in” costs, not just product development costs?
- What is the breakeven point?
- What are our criteria for success?
With so many new competitors in the financial industry – many who don’t play by the same rules – it’s imperative that your product rollout be at its best if you are to succeed. My final tips are to always:
- Do your post-mortem diagnostics on both successes and failures to determine what knowledge can be applied to support future rollouts. Regardless of how successful a product launch is, the product team needs to revisit the original business case and reconcile the actual product penetration and revenues with the forecasts. This kind of learning improves your chance of future success.
- Think about the entire ecosystem of product rollout and include marketing and sales from the get go.
- Revisit current products in addition to new ones you’re releasing. Look for opportunities to package something better, new markets for a product, and more effective go-to-market strategies that maximize revenue potential.