Breaking Digital Gridlock

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Breaking Weekly Digital Gridlock #26: Producting

Weekly FinTech Tip: You Can’t Reverse Engineer a New Product to Solve Problems That You Don’t Fully Understand

You ever buy a product and think, “This is going to change the world for us! It’s going to solve all our problems!”, but then you get the product and it doesn’t change a thing? I call this “producting”. Stick with me to find out what producting is.

Call Webster’s dictionary. I’ve got a new word to add. It’s called “producting”. Producting is the act of buying or replacing a product to solve a problem that can only be solved by people or cultural change. Producting without true cultural change will avail you nothing. A new home banking product is not going to solve all your problems. In fact, it could hurt you because you’ll lose time implementing this new product only to end up where you were to begin with. An amazing artificial intelligence platform or feature is useless if you don’t have the data to feed it and drive results, the people you need to understand the results, and the culture you need to act on the results.

As you’re buying products, here are some questions to ask yourself: What problem or need is this product solving? Does this problem or need exist elsewhere in the organization? In other words, are you buying one product to solve one problem in the department when it needs to be a global purchase?

Are you replacing a product, and if so, is the new product 50% better than the old one? If it’s not, you may be wasting your time. Let me explain. If it’s home banking, you’re going to spend almost a year installing this product. When you’re done, you’re probably going to be right where you were with the old product with the promise of adding all of these new features, but you will have lost a year in that process. So, if the product is not 50% better, maybe you would be better off talking to the current partner and seeing if you can work a deal with them to get those features into that product, or perhaps build them yourself. If you’re switching because you believe that there’s some fantastic new feature, make sure you do the math. Make sure you include a loss of nine months to a year in your planning to understand what it’s going to be like on the other side.

Finally, are you trying to solve a people problem, or a technology problem? I ask organizations, “Are you looking for a new home banking, a new bill pay, a new mobile? Are you looking for a turnkey solution, an open solution, a more vertical solution?”, and I’ve heard everything you can think of in response. I then ask them “Why? What is it that you’re actually looking to do?”, and many of them can’t explain to me exactly what the purpose of the transition is. Maybe it’s time to change that thinking and our approach. Maybe it’s time to look really hard at ourselves, understand what we’re doing, what our needs are, what our culture is, and then find the product that fits what we’re doing, instead of the reverse.

This has been a FinTech Minute. My name is John Best, and I am the author of Breaking Digital Gridlock. If you are interested in diving deeper into these concepts and learning how you can break digital gridlock in your organization, you can find the book at Amazon or anywhere books are sold. In addition, if you are interested in a consulting opportunity around digital strategy, please go to

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