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May - 2015 - issue > Entrepreneur's Corner
Opportunity 4KTA
Naveen Bisht
Co-founder -Aurisss Technologies Inc & Board Member, Chair-Programs, The Indus En
Friday, May 1, 2015
Understanding and identifying a great opportunity represents one of the core elements for any entrepreneur whether it's starting your company with a new product idea and growing it in an existing market or into a new category. For instance, Apple's transformation into the most valuable company in the planet now with smartphone market and Google's entry into the same market with Android are amazing examples for an existing organization. The article here is focused in on startup ideas, however but similar concepts can apply if you are leading new product category launch in a larger organization.Before you begin implementing new products, you must perform market research. Based on this research, identify the problems and how you can solve them. Following this model, you may find opportunities to significantly get into high growth market. Here are four key take away (4KTA) points that center on the concept of opportunity identification that you can follow as an entrepreneur.

1. Opportunity Identification If you were to imagine and ask what the biggest pain point that a customer may be trying to solve can in itself be a powerful way to enable innovation and identify opportunity for your product. It forces you to go beyond industry reports that analysts correlate with purchase and usage to nail down on frustrations and desires that motivate a product purchase and its use.The specific problems a customer may be facing and how they assess solutions is very circumstance contingent and the context underlying it. By asking a customer about what problems they have faced in past will get you something more closer to reality than asking what to do in the future as you are going to get guesses that are less than accurate. As you delve deeper into it, you find that there are so many opportunities in enterprise space that you can come across due to different pain points that exist in various industries. The question is how to zero in on the one that not only customers are willing to pay for but is also a high priority among the top initiatives. For instance, you may have heard that we love your idea or product and it solves one of our pain points but this is not a high priority item at this time. So how do you focus in on the one that is going to be in their top priority list in next one to three years? For instance, on speaking to the Founder and CEO, Abnesh Raina of Plumslice Labs - a start up with innovative product cloud platform for retailers and ecommerce, his experience on challenges that he noticed,based on being CIO at retail and other multi-billion dollar companies, was that there was an inherent need to bring retail product management processes available to match with the current global ecommerce systems. There were no solutions that could address those specific needs in the market. Many of the large retailers were still relying on home grown systems and spreadsheets and emails to manage product workflows and data. And several of them were still implementing basic systems around ERP, ecommerce and supply chain before they waited to solve this acute problem. For an opportunity in enterprise space, you need strong domain expertise in that particular vertical and individuals who have experienced that particular problem as they can appreciate it much better. There are many subtle nuances related to that particular vertical.

2. Validation The second step in your process is to have good enough validation for the opportunity identified. Granted that there is no absolute validation in early stages of product or concept development around the opportunity, talking to a number of prospective customers can help bring clarity to your thought process about this opportunity. For instance, before developing PlumSlice product suite, Abnesh and the team despite having extensive experience in managing IT divisions for large retailers, a clear and sound grasp of their problems and pain points, still decided to get plenty of outside validation. Team conducted multiple focus groups with many prospective customers to validate and ensure that the problem was across multiple companies and industries of similar nature. If there is a problem in enterprise space, assume that there are some other competitors who are also trying to solve similar problem. The question then arises what is the innovation in terms of cost, benefit and any other value additions that you will deliver to the customers in a uniquely differentiated way. This way your customers feel compelled to go along with your solutions than your competitors. Make sure to present the problem clearly and get strong validation upfront. Ask them for honest critique and find any possible holes in it. Get an answer if they'd be willing to pay for it and how much.

3. Embrace Complexity and Flexibility Most of the enterprise problems are complex in nature. The same problem across multiple companies may need a slightly different solution approach. You need to have the right team to understand the domain and complexity. You need to develop solutions that are configurable enough to accommodate the subtle differences. While some processes can be standardized, there will be several that will be unique that need to be incorporated in solution offerings. Extensive research is an essential step in learning about all nuances pertinent to that enterprise. Always remember what Albert Einstein said, "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"

4. Great Expectations Managing your expectation and customer's expectation is another key element. Expect that the initial customer sign up and implementation process may take longer than expected due to conflicting priorities that impact your customer's bandwidth to implement your solution.Be aware that things can change anytime due to external factors beyond your control.In the past, the typical implementations could take six months to two years. Nowadays, Software as a Service (SaaS)offerings like PlumSlice and others take from few days to few weeks only and hence, even more compelling reason for customers to adopt these cloud-based product offerings to remove their pain points as rapidly as possible.

In summary, the four key take away points for entrepreneurs to pursue a great product opportunity are focusing clearly on opportunity identification, validation, embracing complexity and being flexible and managing your and customer's expectations.

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