If you are trying to solve a problem that your customers emphatize with but are NOT actively looking to solve right now, does that indicate that maybe the problem is not that big after all?
Conventional wisdom will say that it is definitaly a possibility. But take a step back and consider another thing:
When a user is not actively looking for a solution to a big problem, it is not that the problem isn’t real. It could instead be that the user, in the absence of obvious solutions, have plain and simple given up for now. And that they are just waiting to discover your solution.
Problems tend to persist. Even if we have (momentarily) given up on solving them.
Having worked with technology and product development for close to 20 years, I have never considered myself someone who was fascinated by technology for technologys own sake. Rather I have been – and continue to be – fascinated by what kind of problems technology can help solve.
Case in point: New search seems to indicate that in a not too distant future, Amazons Alexa can predict a lot of cases of cardiac arrests by listening in on your breathing patterns potentially saving thousands of lives in the process by triggering an emergency call and making sure that help arrives in time.
It is a huge win, if it somes to market. Of course there are all the usual caveats about privacy, surveillance and such, but if the promise is that a device can potentially save your life, is that a tradeoff you as a customer is willing to make? My bet is that it will be for a lot of people. Because this kind of appliance of technology truly matters in the deepest most personal sense of the word.
One of the things that continues to amaze me is the power of actually seeking out potential customers for solving a problem and chat to them about their experiences so far in both experiencing the problem and trying to find solutions for it.
It is easy to get an idea all by yourself. But the idea – or better yet; the theme in which your idea resides – gets so much extra power by actually meeting and listening to the real experts: Those experiencing the problem.
The exercise itself is really simple: Figure out who you need to meet, set up some meetings or chats for coffee etc, show up, ask a few questions and LISTEN. I guarantee you will leave much smarter. And you will be able to channel all that insight directly into whatever it is that you’re doing, if you choose to. And yes; you should.