What makes a product digital?

Categories: Digital Strategy, Product Strategy

Before investing in new products or legacy technology, it’s important to understand what makes a product digital. Digital products become more powerful as they are adopted by more users. More use also makes them more valuable. The design of a digital product is similar to that of a video game. Various storylines are part of a video game’s story. Throughout the game, there are different characters with different traits displaying different behaviors. A digital product may not be as complex as a video game, but it contemplates pre-defined user flows, also called user journeys. It is these types of products that have preconceived all the things that a user can do and captures metrics around each decision point along the way.

The evolution of digital products adds more decision points and customer journeys. E-commerce businesses typically end their pre-defined journeys with a purchase, registration, free trial, newsletter subscription or request for meeting. Different industries may have different end points, but the concept of a journey is the same.

Digital products also capture failures during the user’s journey. It is possible to automatically re-engage users when there is a break in the flow (also known as abandoned process). These products’ structure and architecture support a variety of automation methods for reengaging users. It reveals design problems or errors not handled correctly in an application.

It is possible to tell a lot about the types of users who engage with digital products. Product managers benefit from real-time, data-driven insights and can more easily develop product roadmaps. As team members no longer have to quantify or qualify the value or benefit of defects or functional improvements, prioritization becomes second nature.

Investing in digital products also makes it easier to integrate them with other products and their respective data sources. Once data is easily extracted and analyzed, it becomes a valuable asset for business teams.

Looking at a business holistically and mapping out the various user flows, data streams and potential integrations is an excellent place to begin. Before investing in a single product, you should have a big-picture roadmap that shows where and how it fits into a larger technology strategy. This process will help flush out dependencies you may not have considered. It also eliminates the risk of your product being redundant to another within your organization.

If you don’t have a digital strategy or roadmap, I can help.

Christina Wrobel-Holt

I am a management consultant located in Frederick, Maryland. I support B2B businesses needing to transform rapidly to remain lean, relevant and competitive. These clients often need to expand into e-commerce, modernize user experience, automate internal processes, streamline their supply chain, and develop digital products. I help businesses who support multiple customer segments with complex, and often times, overlapping use cases. I build cross-functional roadmaps that ensure existing customers are insulated from change while a business transforms. Once a roadmap is built, I help sell the strategy to a diverse and critical set of stakeholders. This includes board members, private equity or venture capital groups, lenders, executive leadership, employees, and even customers.

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