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Last year I got excited when I saw news telling that there will be new mobile service at the skiing resort we were planning to go. You know, while seeing all the hype exactly ten years ago, it’s about time for those services to emerge. Branded as Levi Digit the promise in the story was to give relevant special offers, table reservations, maps and all other information to your mobile.

Now six months later, while actually being at Levi, the skiing resort, it was time to test what they had to offer.

It starts all quite fine. There are ads for the mobile service in the resort magazine as well as in the ski bus. Cool. I enter mobi.levi.fi – a bit too long address for mobile use, but it’s doable (no, m.levi.fi does not work).

First thing I notice is that’s all in Finnish. No English version available. Oh no. Well luckily I happen to understand this language, but the tourists don’t.

The list of the sponsors looks promising. The mobile operator Sonera must have made sure the mobile service is really cool, and hey, Carlsberg could have some location-aware special offers for great skiers!

“Sää” is Weather in Finnish. Let’s see what’s the weather tomorrow.

Not too bad for skiing weather. But this does not tell me should I go to the slope in the morning while it’s still in good shape, and whether I can still cross-country ski in the afternoon.

All right… let’s not make too quick conclusions. I try the remaining pages for general information and slope information. Must say I’m quite disappointed.

Conclusions are clear. This “service” is clearly done by an “ad agency”. No doubt about that.

Hey, remember our Mobile Wizard? What would The Wizard do? Let’s assume our Mobile Wizard for Levi™ would already be ready.

When arriving to the Kittilä Airport, the Wizard greeted me with a welcome message and directed me to the Airport Bus, which I of course could reserve and pre-pay with my mobile.

Mobile Wizard for Levi™ is a multi-platform mobile application for those visiting Levi skiing resort. It’s primary purpose would be helping tourists to take everything out of a vacation here. And for local businesses it would be the most important marketing tool ever invented.

Mobile Wizard for Levi™ features

  • All services a ski-traveller needs, in a single easy-to-use application (in her own language)
  • Wallet Wizard, leave wallet at the cottage (so you don’t lose it) and pay with your mobile
  • Friend Wizard, know where your friends are right now (and hide yourself, if you got lucky)
  • Hot Spot Wizard, know where you should be if you like things hot
  • Weather Wizard, including relevant user-generated weather reports for Downhill Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowmobiling and Bar Hopping
  • Reservation Wizard for restaurants and other businesses, including Coupon Wizard to get special deals and discounts (or VIP treatment!)
  • General information concerning slope and ski route condition, including User Generated Feedback
  • Event Wizard, with special benefits for Wizard users
  • Local Business Wizard, with Coupon Wizard  – find any business or service you may need

Technical speaking Mobile Wizard for Levi™ is

  • An application for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Nokia or even a for a browser
  • A multi-lingual for end-users
  • Manageable in each store with a single Apple iPad
  • Compatible with any skiing resort

So is this reality or a vision? If you run a Skiing Resort, or sponsor one, please contact us for to find out how to get this done before your competition does! It’s all about a transactional service, not “mobile marketing”.

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Launching with ‘good enough’ productization

Last week’s blog series ‘art of productization’ continues with more insights from Kati Riikonen, our guest writer in this week’s blog.

Yes, it’s true, ’good enough’ is not measured in the amount of features or the length of specification.  For productization, the key customer promise is a top priority it seldom requires all possible features to be showcased.

Often there is no need, nor it’s feasible, to do full productization journey before going out to market making mode.

The level of necessary productization is depending on many variables. Most importantly one should crystallize concrete goals for the post-launch actions. There are also big differences on targeted audience is B2B, B2C or C2C. In reality, the limiting factors for productization often tend to be time and money.

The following provides examples of productization check points for various types of launches.

Idea launch

  • Examples of next steps: Generate public discussion, idea exchange, testing the idea, scouting potential partners, gathering insights
  • Productization check list: None. Just go out and talk the way you do – all entrepreneurs should do idea launches every day!

Concept launch

  • Examples of next steps: Seeking for finance, crowd-sourcing for development or more insight, thought leadership, publicity, scouting for ecosystem partners
  • Productization check list: Initial customer promise, name and descriptor, differentiators, user experience and marketing assets.

Tip on naming: In B2C or C2C concept launch a legally protected name in early phase is a real asset. In B2B concept launch, it is more natural and often enough just to differentiate with customer promise and descriptors, rather than spend limited resources on the naming convention.

Tip on prioritization: In case of very limited resources, focus on the concept’s customer promise and end-user experience as top priorities regardless if it is B2B, B2C or C2C.

Commercial launch

  • Examples of next steps: Market and sell! Business development, marketing, scout, sign and train distribution channels, agents, personnel.
  • Productization check list: In case of B2C or C2C launch, the further the productization check list is completed, the more likely are scalable sales and operations to accelerate. Of course, there are always exceptions, but the fact is that agents and sales pros tend to sell what gives them the fastest and reasonable payback. Having all the productization assets at immediate disposal gives the team a head start.

Reminder: Productization process does not mean that it’s done in vacuum before going out to public. Direct end-user insight, dialogue and co-creation can – and often should – be part of the successful productization.

Feel free to post your comments & example cases!


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Check list for software and digital service productization

Recently I had an inspiring discussion with Kati Riikonen, a doer, who has been working with several companies from mobility, web and software development domains. We were exploring the needs, pros and cons of the productization of software and digital services. With Kati’s permission, I am sharing some experiences on the topic.

Fully productized service should roughly cover the following:

Pitch check list

  • Clearly differentiate from companies and competitor’s other existing services
  • Name with trademarks and legal protection
  • Short and clear customer promise
  • The elevator speech, a short and crisp 1-2 sentences description of the product or services

User experience check list

  • User experience design drivers and design blueprint
  • Product definition: detailed description of the functionality. This element can be a demo, specification, description or any other format

Assets check list

  • Marketing assets that can be distributed physically or digitally
  • Detailed sales guide, that can be distributed physically or digitally
  • Organized documentation of the service and its operations

Sell check list

  • Price, which can be told immediately and clearly
  • Distribution channel and sales people need to be able to sell the product within feasible investment of time & effort
  • Company’s own personnel and agents need to be able to tell with is being sold with few sentences
  • A client, who is about to buy the service or product, needs to be able to tell with few sentence what he/she is about to buy

Naturally one does not need to take the steps in the right order – we entrepreneurs seldom do! The above should be treated more as a reference.

Shortcuts work very well – often for a period of time. However, significant shortcuts can cause unnecessary resource needs later on. Here is an example:

The project had user experience elements well designed, but did shortcuts in most of the other areas.  User experience assets showcased the concept so well that the company was able to start sales mode immediately. It did not matter that the service did not even have a name – and it still does not have legally protected name.  It might sound an easy way to reduce the pain of productization, but now the company is facing an increasing amount of challenges with press and industry discussion. They are now spending a lot of effort and ‘air time’ to correct the misleading names and messages instead of focusing on their own pitch.

The next question is what level of productization is ‘good enough’ for public launches?

While waiting for the Part 2, post your experiences, questions & comments – thanks!

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I was recently listening to Mårten Mickos, in an event sponsored by SWOT Consulting.

Mårten gave an excellent presentation with the idea of “How would I build a global software company right now”. He almost immediately pointed out that it does not make sense to say “Finnish Global Software Company” as that would already be against the definition. It can of course be that it is initiated by the Finns. As his success and experience from MySQL is well known, it makes sense to pay attention to what he says.

There are both challenges and opportunities (accessible with specific strengths) in this field.

He listed the following challenges anyone building a software company (in Finland) will face:

  1. Finland is too small and too expensive. This can be overcome by either focusing or going into volumes.
  2. Finland is good in utilizing software, not so good in producing it globally.
  3. We are slow.
  4. The Finns believe too much in institutions. More sales work, less filling in forms for subsidies and grants.
  5. There is room for improvement concerning the will to really fight (to become successful). In some respects, life is too easy for many. True winners are those who learn to fight for the success!
  6. We believe (still) that we are a leading edge country (“We come from Finland, country of Nokia”). More humble approach would be good as well as partnering with foreign complementary people.

The Finns have many strengths, however, which could and should be utilized better:

  1. The working moral is good, better than in USA/Silicon Valley as is the management style.
  2. The quality of work is good, honestly. Even when nobody is watching!
  3. Well-functioning society, everything works. (Author’s comment: not without briberies some statistics show, it’s just different)
  4. Mad creativity in development, making Finns suitable for all kind of pioneer development.

Utilizing the strengths and becoming successful also requires:

  1. Being in the right time, in the right place. You also need luck!
  2. Going into one of the large markets (EU, USA or China) quickly.

Mårten also gave his view on the software market status as of now:

  • Consolidation is taking place. You have to either find a pioneer market or find a niche in the consolidating segments.
  • Convergence means there are no borders between web and mobile, one must be capable to operate in both.
  • Increasing complexity – select your target market with care.
  • Global growth – do your market research concerning the existing players with care.
  • Market domination game requires you to find weak point of the market leader and take advantage of that.
  • Utilize the Open Source opportunities.
  • Everything is in the Net, and so will you.

Mårten summarized all this by saying that one must be brave but humble, ready to conquer the world BUT aiming at carefully selected market segments and geographical locations with carefully selected go-to-market-plan.

There are, in my humble opinion, many good points in his presentation. There’s is always something to learn!

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I was recently listening to Mårten Mickos, in an event sponsored by SWOT Consulting.

Mårten gave an excellent presentation with the idea of “How would I build a global software company right now”. He almost immediately pointed out that it does not make sense to say “Finnish Global Software Company” as that would already be against the definition. It can of course be that it is initiated by the Finns. As his success and experience from MySQL is well known, it makes sense to pay attention to what he says.

There are both challenges and opportunities (accessible with specific strengths) in this field.

He listed the following challenges anyone building a software company (in Finland) will face:

  1. Finland is too small and too expensive. This can be overcome by either focusing or going into volumes.
  2. Finland is good in utilizing software, not so good in producing it globally.
  3. We are slow.
  4. The Finns believe too much in institutions. More sales work, less filling in forms for subsidies and grants.
  5. There is room for improvement concerning the will to really fight (to become successful). In some respects, life is too easy for many. True winners are those who learn to fight for the success!
  6. We believe (still) that we are a leading edge country (“We come from Finland, country of Nokia”). More humble approach would be good as well as partnering with foreign complementary people.

The Finns have many strengths, however, which could and should be utilized better:

  1. The working moral is good, better than in USA/Silicon Valley as is the management style.
  2. The quality of work is good, honestly. Even when nobody is watching!
  3. Well-functioning society, everything works. (Author’s comment: not without briberies some statistics show, it’s just different)
  4. Mad creativity in development, making Finns suitable for all kind of pioneer development.

Utilizing the strengths and becoming successful also requires:

  1. Being in the right time, in the right place. You also need luck!
  2. Going into one of the large markets (EU, USA or China) quickly.

Mårten also gave his view on the software market status as of now:

  • Consolidation is taking place. You have to either find a pioneer market or find a niche in the consolidating segments.
  • Convergence means there are no borders between web and mobile, one must be capable to operate in both.
  • Increasing complexity – select your target market with care.
  • Global growth – do your market research concerning the existing players with care.
  • Market domination game requires you to find weak point of the market leader and take advantage of that.
  • Utilize the Open Source opportunities.
  • Everything is in the Net, and so will you.

Mårten summarized all this by saying that one must be brave but humble, ready to conquer the world BUT aiming at carefully selected market segments and geographical locations with carefully selected go-to-market-plan.

There are, in my humble opinion, many good points in his presentation. There’s is always something to learn!

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The new omatkaupat.fi service is turning the traditional concept of SMS marketing upside down. Instead of receiving unwanted messages from big brands, this service actually lets you (The Consumer) choose which shops you like – and receive their special offers. It’s like “business twitter”, it lets you select the local shops and services you want to “follow” ie. receive their offers into your mobile phone. You can also put an upper limit for the number of messages you get weekly.

omatkaupat.fi - suosikkikauppiaittesi tarjoukset tuoreena matkapuhelimeesi

According to a recent poll in the Internet, about 80% of the consumers would like to have relevant special offers from their local shops in their mobile phone. The most wanted offer type was a significant discount in a grocery shop, for example -30% discount when showing the received message in the shop (typically a time-limited offer, for example only this evening).

Omatkaupat.fi enables the shop owners send one-way campaigns as well two-way mobile coupons where the customer can reply to the message, for example in order to make a reservation. As creating and sending a campaign is easy (text message is quite short, and there is no need for an ad agency to get involved), it can be done on ad-hoc basis and more frequently. It can even be done from the mobile phone of the shop owner himself, practically any time and anywhere.

What do you think about this? What kind of special offers, discounts and invitations would you like to receive?

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Kasvufoorumi 2009

Kasvufoorumi 2009

The future of the Finnish Economy is in the hands of those software entrepreneurs who dare to innovate and build growth companies at these times. That’s the idea of Growth Forum (Kasvufoorumi in Finnish), an initiative of Finnish Software Entrepreneurs which in co-operation with several other organizations such as Microsoft, arranged a kick-off seminar last Friday in Helsinki. This is the second year this event is organized.

According to Mikko Alkio,  the State Secretary to the Minister of Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Employment and Economy, this is a unique collaboration in whole Europe. In no other nation have most of the key stake holders of the software industry joined the forces to build a new cornerstone of a new economic driver. Unlike some other politicians, he was also wise enough to admit that he himself is not actually the best person to advice how to become an entrepreneur and build a company. He claimed that the main reason for this is a  large house mortgage and no room for additional risk taking. In my humble opinion, this is actually often the reason to stay at a regular job instead of building a growth company of your own.

Another speaker, Mikko Kosonen from Sitra, also had an interesting presentation. One of the main things was the need for user driven software design. It is well-known that many (but not all) software is developed based on view of the developers, and less based on the actual and real user needs. There is light in the end of the tunnel, and it’s not the train. Memorize the word “Gasellizer”, an innovation by a group of sofware experts, and see what it is going to be this Autumn.

Concerning Mikko’s presentation, he also mentioned the need of new Service Innovations. That’s absolutely true. It’s no longer enough to engineer yet-another-cool-technology and try to find a use case for that. The future is in Service Innovations. This message is yet to go to the Finnish entrepreneur funding system, however. Trying to find funding for a Service Innovation (with focus on something else than the technology) is quite difficult as a typical answer is that “…it is just a service innovation, we cannot give support for that…”). In the future it should be the other way around, having “just a technological innovation” should not be enough, it should also be Service Innovation!

The Growth Forum will now continue with crowd sourcing model. All the software entrepreneurs were encouraged to join one or more of the task forces working on few pre-selected focus areas. Those focus areas are Teaching and Education, Research, Innovation, Growth Strategies and Capital Markets and International Sales & Marketing. I will personally join at least the Innovation group.

Let the forces be with this initiative!

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