How to shortcut the hunt for use cases

3 mins read

You may know this situation: A new technology inspired a manager through a visit to a trade show or a newspaper article. He would like to use the technology for his own organization, but cannot take care of it himself.

As a result, the manager assigns someone in the organization. What does this person do? Before the work starts, he or she will try to understand the assignment and expectations. And to excel, the hunt for meaningful use cases with high potential or effect for the organization begins.

The hunt for use cases

You have already observed that the search gets out of hand and can take up several months of hard work. Spreadsheets or presentation slides might span hundreds of pages. The assigned person might look for budget approval from his superior, or board. He or she wants to shine in the best light. A justification, more information and a few insights are the least he or she has prepared. If a project proposal is on the table, he or she checked all alternatives and crafted a reliable road map. This procedure buffers risk and is appropriate for the alien the “new” technology.

This week I have attended an event focusing on the potential of the blockchain for digitizing processes. Experts were presenting solutions and approaches, for example, IBM, Maersk, Cisco, and Bayer. Some solutions are enhancing transparency in shipping. They reduce paperwork. Others reduce plagiarism and allow better tracking of products in distribution channels.

They also presented frameworks for evaluating the potential of the blockchain. With business processes, in particular, the evaluation can cover a hundred use cases.

How can you speed up the hunt for use cases?

Can you avoid idea fat?

Try a few simple questions from the customer’s point of view:

(1) Would your current customers pay extra for products or services with the new technology?

(2) Will the current customer be able to do his job better if you use the new technology in your organization?

(3) Are there any new value elements for the current customer?

If you answer the questions (1-3) with a clear “yes”, then you have a strong use case. Start with the customer problem in your further analysis.

If you get a “no”, then the technology could / should contribute to a strong cost reduction. But, in this tricky case, the primary focus is not on the customer benefit. So, it is better to be careful. Others might create a better offering for the customers.

With a “no” you can also ask the questions about new customers:

(1) How can you attract underserved/refusing/non-customers with the new technology?

(2) What stopped these new customers from responding to your previous offer? Why are they gaining interest now?

New customers can represent a second — often weaker and riskier — use case. Besides the new technology, you will need to build trust and a sales channel to the new customers. But, the second use case can be very potent. E.g. consider the historic case of replacing mainframes and minicomputers with personal computers. Based on technology computing power had exploded and costs have fallen. As a result, new technology enabled new customers to afford computing power. Similar smartphones did the same. The cycle repeats with small IoT devices.

If you need support in finding and evaluating use cases, please contact us!

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