Why Software Companies Need Product Ideation to Ensure Business Success

June 3, 2024

The power of ideas gets a lot of credit in businesses. "Everything begins with an idea." "You can kill a man, but you can't kill an idea."

Despite this, too many digital products today are launched without a clear idea. Or worse, products are developed based on one person’s unverified idea. This can result in the company failing to identify the best solution to its problem and investing valuable resources in a plan that has a poor chance of success.

Product ideation aims to solve this problem, but the process is often overlooked by many corporations. Companies that want to innovate and enter new development projects with the best possible plan must integrate strategic communication and a structured method in the process of gathering ideas to capture critical data and factors relevant to their audience in order to succeed. 

What is Product Ideation, and Why is it Relevant?

Product Ideation is an effective way to gather, prioritize, and implement ideas in order to provide a better product or service. The ideation process calls for data gathering, prototyping and testing, and implementation.

This process is more focused, structured, and concrete than simply brainstorming. This helps to zero in on the critical problems that the company needs to solve and what solutions can be used to be able to build a solution that fits the needs of the company and end-user. Creating a plan for execution and putting the ideas into development are also important steps of the ideation process.

Do Companies Really Need Product Ideation?

The most successful brands such as IBM, Google, and Airbnb integrate product ideation and design thinking as a core part of their culture and way of doing business. But even though this is the case, there are still developers out there who skip the ideation process or have a hard time doing it right.

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Many companies discount the value of product ideation and instead rely on 1-2 stakeholders or product owners to be responsible for the direction of the project. However, failing to use the insights of other team members is an opportunity wasted.

Gigster often sees this with companies that approach us with a fully formed idea that they need a development team to execute. If our development team has the opportunity to contribute to an initial product ideation process, we can provide insights into what is possible and help guide clients towards a better defined solution.

Once they decide to do ideation, companies find it hard to align and get their developers to be on the same page on why they need to do it. Not to discount that if too many people or the wrong people get involved, this can hurt the ideation process. This is why software development companies tend to shy away from it. 

Tips for Successful Product Ideation

Product ideation doesn’t have to be complicated. The best way is to be led by the “why” – why are we doing this in the first place, where the company is right now, and where does it want to go. Having the same understanding and goals can unite members, which will then serve as a base foundation where people can generate out-of-the-box ideas that can help improvements moving forward.

If your company is considering product ideation to identify and execute a solution to your next challenge, here are some tips to follow:

Assemble the Right Team

Ideation stresses that more heads are better than one – the combined brainpower of experts and users yields greater actionable results, with companies fostering creativity and data-driven collaboration enjoying 1.5 times greater market share. However, there is a cutoff where too many people - or the wrong people - can hurt ideation.

A good rule of thumb for bringing the right people together is to invite a minimum of one stakeholder from each aspect of the product development and launch process. Get insights into the user needs by inviting a community manager or an end-user if it is an internal solution. If it is a customer-facing product, including sales or marketing input is critical.

When Gigster runs product ideation sessions for our clients, we include a Gigster product manager and developer to provide insights into what solutions are available and what additional challenges or opportunities should be considered.

Ensure a Data-driven Ideation

In addition to human expertise, bring hard data to the product ideation sessions to spark ideas and identify business objectives. For software engineering, a tool like METRX provides valuable insights into bottlenecks, engineering outputs, maintenance, and product costs.

Collecting performance metrics before product ideation also provides key benchmarks to help define and measure project success.

This data will also help identify specific problems and solutions before the product ideation to ensure your ideation session stays focused on a specific case.

Focus on a Specific Solution

Another major difference between brainstorming sessions and product ideation is that ideation should focus on a specific problem and solution. Product ideation should start with more than a problem statement and a blank whiteboard. If you enter the process too open-ended, it is difficult to invite relevant stakeholders and dial into a relevant and executable solution.

For example, a generative AI ideation session can gather the in-house and outsourced AI developers and experts of a firm, and its clients that use their services. Doing so will spot the root of the problem, other pain points, areas of improvement, and specific solutions for creating a plan, and then a prototype that will be tested and further improved until the ultimate implementation and launching of the product or service. This method is better than just conducting a wide open ideation session among general company staff where it is hard to drill down and pinpoint specific solutions and action plans.

Develop a User-centric Approach

The ideation process starts with a key component that most people in the tech industry often forget – and that is “empathy”. Software developers need to empathize with the hardships of the end-user, determine their problems, and find specific solutions through their product or service. Companies tend to get lost in the idea, tech, and features of a product that they lose sight of what matters most – who it is for, how it works, and why it exists in the first place.

Customer and client feedback throughout the process is crucial for a good product ideation. Having a community of clients and loyal customers in one place (i.e. forum, Facebook community, Discord channel, etc.) is beneficial for product development, as the company will have a robust resource of feedback that will give ideas for building product and service upgrades. For internal products, inviting some end-users or managers to ideation sessions can provide valuable insights.

Include Implementation

Product ideation doesn’t end when you have a long list of possible solutions on the board. It must include prototyping, testing, and implementing to find the best idea and the best strategy for developing that idea. Creation of a plan and prototype will follow, which will then be tested multiple times until you reach the final result you are looking for, based on the company’s plans and goals. 

Creating a low-cost MVP can help when scoping your solution. This allows you to stress test your idea and get it in the hands of users and stakeholders before moving forward.

The process is oftentimes not linear. In fact, this is where companies might circle back again to restructuring, filtering, and refocusing their ideas if things get muddled up along the way. After all, your product or service can only solve a core problem, not all problems in the world. The clearer and more structured the ideas, plan, and goals are, the better it will reflect in the implementation. 

Overall, companies that naturally employ product ideation on a regular basis find more success than the ones that don’t. They answer to the needs of their users regularly so their products and services stay relevant and updated, and are widely used by their target market. This leads to gaining loyal paying subscribers and followers in the long run, which is a key to business success. A company has nothing to lose when they put ideation sessions into practice, whether they try and conduct it themselves, or outsource a well-versed team in product ideation that will guide them through step-by-step.

Gigster assists companies in their journey to create and recalibrate products and services that are relevant and timely to their target audiences. Our low-cost scoping offering provides a full development team and processes to quickly build an MVP without committing to a full project. If you’re ready to start your product ideation or stress test your potential solution, reach out to Gigster today.

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