Innovation By Outside-In Thinking: 3 Reasons Why You Should Adopt This and 5 Tips To Execute

When we decided to develop our first ever product, an online accounting software, we have no idea of how it works and what is acceptable to the market. We did it by reverse engineering existing accounting software online without careful assessment of the user needs especially Filipino accountants. We picked modules and sub-modules based on naive common sense. We did it inside-out.

Fast forward six months later, we showed what we developed to prospective clients, and it turned out that it was not sellable. We went back to our drawing board, and fortunately, we met an accountant who’s well versed with systems, and we learned that we have to redo 80% of our code. So we did, and our product evolved customer-driven or outside-in from thereon.

Outside-in by definition is an approach guided by customer orientation and customer value creation. It means that real customer problems and challenges drive the product features, operational process efficiency or human resource structure.

Why should we innovate by outside-in thinking? Here are some reasons and benefits:

  1. Customers are becoming more powerful. With the online reviews and social media feedback platform, companies have no choice but to listen to their customers. Spend efforts to maximize customer benefits rather than the shareholder returns.
  2. Market disruptions are popping here and there. People are a lot wiser. We can quickly learn something from the Internet andYouTube with the vast content and information overload; hence people can easily find ways to tap the whitespace of a particular market. There’s no way of knowing that whitespace if companies don’t listen or get feedback from the customers. So if you stop listening, then you’ll become obsolete.
  3. It improves customer delivery. Organizations who adopt the inside-out method define their delivery process based on theories or experience they got from their previous jobs. Every business is unique, so whatever process that is successful from other companies does not necessarily apply to your company. By outside-in thinking, companies should put themselves to the customer’s shoes, simulate the experience and practice empathy. Define the customer’s pain points and change the method based on those data. This method will definitely decrease customer attrition rate and complaints, an increase in repeat business and loyalty.

Here are some tips in executing business in an outside-in manner:

  1. In product development, obtain an understanding of what products or service that is available in your target market. Research why a particular group of customers are not buying them and not solving their problems. Develop a feature to solve that problem.
  2. In sales, understand their challenges and the reason why they made time for you before you make your pitch.
  3. In delivery, understand the customer journey. Please take note of all the touchpoints and check to see how you can improve them.
  4. In execution, improve your response time, close all issues and feedback and do not tolerate problems.
  5. In HR, train employees to ensure the organization is all on the same page in doing the above.

9 Tech Trend Assumptions That We Make That Is Probably Wrong

In light of my fascination with technology and innovation, I’ve been thinking about some assumptions that many of us make that may be wrong or we don’t realize what is really happening in the technology space.

This post is to encourage all of us to innovate and stimulate our thinking about the latest technology trends.

  1. The future of technology is coming. What we don’t realize is that it is here already. We have the AI, VR, AR, DLT, name it. We are already on it, and we just need to think of ways on how to apply it.
  2. Social media makes us happy. Yes if you’re using it properly. Some people are just not mindful that they only use it as a platform to let other people perceive them as happy.
  3. Internet or Cybersecurity is not a big deal. Hackers stole $172B from people in 2017.
  4. If we create an app and place an ad, it will get traction by itself. Before even creating the app, introduce first the change that you want to contribute to your chosen market. Build your MVP and minimum viable audience (MVA), a small tribe of loyal customers first and then do the ads.
  5. Your business does not need an AI strategy. If this is your assumption, then expect that you will go out of business in 10-20 years.
  6. Innovation is always just about the latest technologies. When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone, the touch screen technology has been existing for quite a while already. He was able to disrupt the market by using an existing technology.
  7. Innovation is only for geniuses. Anybody can innovate. If you’re an employee, you can always find ways to improve your productivity by using new tools and technologies. There’s a lot of productivity tools out there such as Asana, Trello or JIRA. If you’re a developer, research and introduce coding practices like automated-tests, continuous integration and new ways to build and debug, if successful, then you can always share with your colleagues or even the management.
  8. That Blockchain and distributed ledgers (DLT) are the same things. If bitcoin or cryptocurrencies are the by-products of the blockchain, DLT is the mother concept of the blockchain. There several other implementations of DLT such as blockDAG and TDAG. Each has distinct characteristics that affect security and performance. If you choose to innovate on this space, then carefully study each option.
  9. That Blockchain is unhackable. Yes, it is, specially colluded attacks. Again, find the right balance in your implementation.

If you’re an entrepreneur and you want to build something, define your mission first more than profits. Choose your target audience. Analyze their challenges and white space. Then solve them through the latest technology that is applicable to solve the problem. You don’t need to study deeply on a particular subject if you don’t need it.

In any case, the awareness of the above can help you apply the technology rightly and may give you a proper perspective of the future.

Snap Accounting Series: Beta Launch

Yesterday was the day that I’ve been looking forward to in 3 years. The product is now launched but limited to the free check writer app. Any user can register and use the app to book their disbursements and generate expense reports online.

It is mobile responsive so you can easily book expenses even outside the office. You can assign the preparation of checks to someone and as a small business owner, you can approve it anytime and anywhere. All prepared and approved checks can be printed online even by batches.

Marketing plans are all set and its just a matter of execution. We plan to post teasers of the next app but in the meantime, we will be on standby for any feedback from the users to the initial release.

I can’t wait for your feedback or share with you testimonials from other users.

After years of surviving and growing as an ERP company for SMEs, I am glad to have deployed a product for startups and micro business owners.

This is an innovative tool and will definitely assist them in capturing their transactions so they know how and when to grow the business with the reports that Snap Accounting will generate.

A Creative Way to Manage Time Wisely

Running a growing organization is never easy. Day after day, I try my best to innovate and be creative in managing my time. It is still a work in progress.

But somehow I think I found a system and tool to manage time. The answer is Inbox by Gmail.

The problem with most of time management or to do list apps is that it is not integrated with email and messaging.

The traditional way of configuring my day is to list down my todos for the next day. While I am working on my current to do list, I am bombarded with a lot of messages, texts, calls and each of the interaction has another to do to list down. So what I’d been doing was to open another app and put the reminder or todo.

With Inbox by Gmail, email messages can be a todo itself and can be snoozed.

 

In the example above, I made it sure that I snooze the message either tomorrow, next week or a specific date/time so that I will be reminded to follow up if the instruction was not completed.  Another great feature of Inbox is that you can also pin or snooze a note, reminder or a todo list.

Below are some tips in planning a todo list using Inbox so you can manage time wisely:
1. Categorize your todo. In my case I categorize my todo per department. I set all tasks related to finance and admin at 8am, operations at 10am and Sprint planning at 2pm.

2. With Inbox, there are two sections, the tasks under Inbox and tasks under Snoozed. Todos under Inbox are tasks due. So normally I am mindful with Inbox tasks/emails.

3. I don’t usually show new email messages until my tasks due are finished. There’s an option in Inbox where you can hide new messages or if you prefer to see them, you can always snooze to a specific date for reply later.

4. Inbox by Gmail is not limited to work tasks, I also put snoozed todos or reminders for my time to read, workout, write and spend time with the family.

I’ve been using Inbox for awhile and I don’t think I will be using a new personal task management app soon. I seldom miss completion of tasks or a follow up ever since.

10 Things I Wish Home Assistants Could Do

I just bought a Google Home mini. I was fond of it. For several days, I enjoyed turning lights on and off, play Spotify while showering, and watch Netflix with the voice.

After a while, I have compiled some creative ideas or list of things I wish it could do more:

1. Make coffee.

2. Crawl and read websites.

3. Read emails and messages.

4. Make and accept calls.

5. Suggest things – e.g. gifts to buy, things to do.

6. Do the dishes.

7. Browse and order online (products, food, services)

8. Give writing prompts

9. Give ideas.

10. Assist in decision making.