As I reach the two-year mark of launching my fintech consulting practice, I thought it would be valuable to look back at the various client engagements to identify the requests that are driving new product innovation. Over the past two years, it has been encouraging to see my initial business hypothesis play out. All of my clients, ranging from a global B2B payments provider to a consumer security software brand (and many others in between), have shared a similar business challenge: how to identify, validate, and effectively launch innovative fintech products to take advantage of new market opportunities.
Turns out, all of my projects to date have focused on some phase, or phases, of the new product development lifecycle. However, it has been interesting to see which elements were most common. While I’ve had several extended projects that spanned the entire product lifecycle over multiple months, most projects typically incorporated a handful of discrete phases.
Competitive Landscape Analysis – What is the competition doing?
By far, the most common piece of work included in my projects is competitive landscape analysis, with this component being part of almost 100% of my projects to date. I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising, as understanding what products your competitors are offering is a critical factor to take into account for any new product strategy. In many cases, the competitive analysis also included an analysis of how these competitors are positioned in the market, which can then feed into customer research and go-to-market planning later in the project.
Product Gap Analysis – How does our product compare?
About two thirds of my projects have also included a product gap analysis, comparing my client’s product (or planned product) to the competition. Digging in to how the planned product compares to incumbents in the market not only helps inform the product development roadmap, but can also provide valuable input to market positioning as well.
Voice of Customer Research – What do our customers want?
Direct customer input is a critical element to effectively align product requirements and positioning strategy with the market needs. Not surprisingly, capturing this voice of the customer has been part of over half of my projects over the past two years. These projects incorporated structured qualitative research, typically one-on-one video interviews, to gather directional insight on customer pain points, potential product features, and positioning statements. Additionally, about half of the customer research projects have also included a quantitative component to drive deeper insights and effective segmentation through data-driven survey research. To execute the quantitative surveys and analyze the results, I’ve typically either partnered with a firm run by a past PayPal colleague, Al Barraza of Preference Analytics, or worked with the client’s in-house customer insights team.
Other Elements: Feeding Go-To-Market Planning and Business Models
Interestingly, other important elements of the new product development lifecycle such as a business model forecast and a go-to-market plan have been included in fewer than half of my past projects. I’ve found that in most cases, the client was looking for our analysis to provide critical input to their go-to-market planning, even if they crafted the tactical details of that plan themselves. Similarly for a business model, clients were taking our analysis as an input to help build out their corporate business model and other forecasts.
For most of my engagements, my clients have already identified an emerging opportunity in the market, but don’t have the resources and/or the capabilities to investigate and evaluate the potential. By providing deep customer, market, and product insights, the Fintech Strategy Group has been able to help a wide range of clients accelerate their initiatives and launch innovative products to take advantage of exciting opportunities.