Getting over the digital hump

Why’s nobody talking about Brexit? Unless you’re in the media or politics, of course. It’s certainly not what people are talking to me about. What a relief!

What I hear when I’m out talking to people we hope to work with, is that they are frustrated because they can’t get their digital products (be it mobile apps, smart apps or web apps) delivered quickly enough. I know, it’s mad. In a world when you can spin up a website for next to no money in minutes, I meet people all the time who struggle to deliver their digital and mobile ambitions because they can’t move fast enough.

These are often people working in big (big) companies. They’ve got the ambition, they’ve got the budget, they’ve got the executive sponsor. Yet they’re also struggling to move forward at the pace they want to.

Just do it!

Sometimes it’s just really hard to get started.

Industry analyst Gartner recognises that a new kind of mindset is required from professionals in relation to digitization when they write that “Digital business requires entrepreneurial risk-taking behaviour with technology.” (Gartner: CIOs need help to scale the digital business, May 2017).

I’ve seen this from the client-side too. In my experience of delivering large-scale digital banking products (as a client), the best advice I could give is this. Simplify your thinking. Love a process. Forget failure. Embrace learning. Take the first step, have a go.

When people try to reduce risk they tend to go deep into the detail, to move away from the abstract idea towards something more tangible and deliverable. It may not always be the best way. Quite frequently, I’m surprised at the amount of detail people go into when we first meet. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve often spent a lot of time thinking through the product or service they are going to deliver, right down to the colour scheme or some cool feature that’ll make the product come to life on iPhone X.

My favourite conversations (and those that leave the most room for creative and entrepreneurial thinking) are those where the desired outcome is clear, but how to get there is not. These conversations almost start before the start and help us to imagine the simplest way to find out whether what’s envisaged can actually work. They also mean we can start without a huge amount of risk in term of cash outlay.

Embrace process!

Often, the process can be your friend. A sound framework can help you to develop your ideas and thinking in a manageable way. The process can help you get rid of bad ideas early (like your line manager’s insistence that you need to develop your first SmartWatch app). The process can keep you on track, and it can help you to pivot when something better comes along.

Forget about perfection!

Worrying about delivering something perfect just eats up time. Don’t worry that the first version of your product is a bit rubbish. It’s not a failure. Only you and your mum are ever going to see it! By the time the world has your product in the palm of their hands, it’s not going to look like v1.0. Don’t just take my word for it. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, would tell you that if you’re not embarrassed by your first product release, you’ve released it too late.

The point here is that doing something is better than doing nothing. You can’t get feedback and begin to iterate if you haven’t made a product that you can share and learn from. Ideally, your process will quickly get you to a place where you can build a prototype and let your new customers see it, use it, and let you learn from their experiences (good and bad).

Sometimes, though, the first step can be the hardest. Often that’s why the people I meet are frustrated. They simply want to deliver quickly, but they can’t gain momentum. They can’t get over the hump.

If you need help getting your project going, to move more quickly (or if you work in the media or politics and fancy a chat about Brexit), get in touch.

A cup of tea?

At Chelsea Apps, we have 8 years’ experience in creating digital products. Getting things going fast is always important for our clients and we always deliver.

Why not drop in for a cup of tea and a chat at our Bournemouth office? We’re happy to share how we can help you get over the digital hump.