How to Improve a Product when the Differentiators are Narrowed Down over a Period?

Let’s begin with “How does one create a new product?”. The answers are varied as they could range from:

  • doing market research on the needs of customers and industry trends;
  • doing exploration and creating new ideas, see whether there is any fitment by sampling with a few clients;
  • doing deliberate brainstorming sessions, funnelling out new ideas and taking them forward;
  • studying varied industries and figuring out correlations;
  • taking guidance from nature’s myriad patterns;
  • being a copycat – create a replica of the existing product with very few / zero variations

So now, a product which is created and has started doing well. As time passes, we keep adding new features and, in certain cases, groundbreaking ones too. But over a period of time, we see that many players turn up, and the so-called first-mover advantages that we had earlier narrow down, and again, it would be back to square one to figure out how do we make it stand out.

Should old wine be put into a new bottle, acquire new companies that would strategically fit organizational needs, or start something afresh and allow the old one to ‘Sunset’?

It’s a query that has bothered many and continues to do so. Is there any solution to it, or does it vary with various permutations and combinations coming into play?

Let me try to answer this problem statement in my way.

When is it ok to jump the gun and make drastic changes? It’s tough to answer it, but at the same time, if one adopts an entrepreneurial mindset, then it becomes easier to keep looking for changes and adapt. One should constantly survey competitors’ landscape and customer preferences, foresee which technology could make headway soon, and be gracious enough to accept any unforeseen changes like the current pandemic, which has suddenly changed the outlook of organizations and people.

It is easier said than done, but history is full of positive and negative cases.

Take the case of Nokia mobile phones. They were the market leaders till a while ago and ruled it for quite a long time. It is a classic case where they were No. 1 but at the same time failed to innovate or look around at what was happening. Somebody else came, introduced new technology, and took away market share. They were, quite literally, caught napping, and even though now they are trying to get into the race, top players are so far ahead that they are hardly considered a part of it!

One must stay vigilant, compete against oneself, and always look for opportunities to innovate and introduce new features to delight the customers. This way, an organization can be a trendsetter instead of becoming a follower. At first, they believe the intent with which a product is originally created is good, but being open to fresher ideas and latching onto something new will help leverage one’s position. Entrepreneurs usually try to focus on being nimble, unlike well-established behemoths who sometimes lose it over a period of time as there are so many factors to consider and go behind certain indices!

Author Details

Kavitha Sundararajan

I am a Banking domain expert with more than a decade of experience, especially in the Lending area. In iCETS Unit, I handle multiple activities like working in large transformation deals, interactions with various stakeholders, developing marketing strategies, and building product roadmaps.

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