Finding The Use Case

Use Case
Photo from P^2 - Paul's Flickr

The shear volume of options available to us today is daunting. It’s hard to imagine new products and services finding validity in many cases. On the other hand, inventors can get excited and focus too much on their breakthrough technology without figuring out how to monetize it.

Ultimately, great technologies, systems and innovations have to find a specific use case. They have to serve a specific purpose and find appeal with either a mass or niche audience. Many of the things we use have become valuable based on our use cases – how we use the technology to get things done or get pleasure. This goes for Twitter, iPhones and solar panels. They need to find a market which uses the technology in a specific, adapted way.

Finding the use case is the hard work entrepreneurs do. It legitimizes ideas and pushes them into reality.  It’s a process of iteration and paying attention. Here are some ways to helping what you perceive as wonderful become likewise for a broader audience:

  • Underdesign. Don’t overengineer or overdesign. Use prototypes to test an idea. The temptation to make something perfect before putting it in front of users, customers or beta groups can cost you in waste. If the idea doesn’t connect, then the work is lost. Furthermore, you want to see what the reaction is to the core, not the embroidery.
  • Take small risks. Pick audiences that can provide fair feedback and react without your guidance or input. It is more risk, but you get candor.
  • Observe, observe, observe. Watch what people do. If they tend to gravitate towards a feature of functionality in a way you did not envision, then see if it happens with others. It may show you that your form factor lends itself to a completely different use case or path than you envisioned. Note the observations. It can open up new opportunities.
  • Fail quickly. As you get feedback, then change quickly. Build, test, change, retest. Each iteration should help you get to the niche use case you are seeking. It’s hard to guess. It’s better to navigate the nuance and keep tweaking to reality.

There are your ideas. Then there is reality. The ability to iterate is easier today than ever with digital assets, access to audiences and the shear knowledge from others’ failures. Keep your mind open and watch how markets tell you what they want and will do with what you can offer.

Is there a use case you can imagine for what you do? What is it?

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