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Innovation starts with your users…

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The best advice I ever received when I was looking to start a consulting business was this:

“To guarantee success, find a need and fill it.”

There is no value in creating products or services for which there is no need. On occasion, an organization will come up with a game-changing product and redefine a whole industry, such as RIM in the early days, replacing pagers with email anywhere, and Apple with its iPhone and iPad, which brought smart devices to the masses. But, for the most part, the businesses that thrive are those who have mastered the ability to identify a need and fulfill it.

It is evident that they excel at anticipating what their customers would need, and when. They have essentially put themselves in the place of the user, and walked through what a successful experience would be. Interacting with these organizations is uncannily intuitive. The website is informative, expectations are clearly defined, there are no unpleasant surprises, and if it is a product, you could likely hand it to a child and they would be able to figure out how to get started.

As you read this, I’m sure you are remembering your own experiences in dealing with companies offering this type of product or service. This may be anything from the great little restaurant you frequent or the car dealer you have bought a second or third vehicle from because you loved the service.

But not all businesses are thriving.

There are far too many companies, service organizations, and manufacturers more concerned with numbers, and specifically how high can their sale numbers reach in the next quarter, than they are with the experience of their customers in interacting with their products.

No one will deny that Apple has made a huge impact with the iPad. Even if you are not an Apple fan, you can’t deny the device is simple to use. I can hand mine to a 3-year old and she will flick and swipe at the screen like a pro to find her games and books.

I got an iPad for my parents (who are in their eighties). A week later, they wanted to buy a second one so they don’t fight over who gets to use it. These devices have opened up a whole new world of opportunity and discovery from the comfort of their La-Z-Boy recliners.

And the best part (for me), I have barely spent mere moments providing them with tech support. When you…

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