Empathy in Solutions Building

How building from the heart can catapult you to success

The world of tech can be sometimes be too technical for us. But it will always have its means to make our everyday lives easier, thanks to the developers.

With questions that can now all be Google-able, and statements that we can now say “there’s an app for that!” — it truly is the best time to be alive.

There maybe millions of apps and solutions available out in the digital world at our disposal, but a new study show that there are only an average of 25 apps a person uses every month.

Number of apps available in leading app stores as of 4th quarter 2019

Now the challenge for developers now is this – with the consumer behavior becoming too picky in terms of the apps that they welcome in their everyday lives, then you have the organizations with their choice of solutions, how can one keep up?

Empathy as Driving Force of App Success

Taking a step back, allow me to acknowledge one of the reasons why successful apps or solutions that we use still exists — Empathy.

Empathy [ˈempəTHē]

NOUN

the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

While the journey in creating a particular solution appears to be too technical, developer’s end in mind is to follow where people are having challenges with, through empathy, developers will need to put themselves in the shoes of their possible target customers, then write a solution from their perspective in order to satisfy the needs and bridge the gaps.

Define the Challenge you Want to Solve

Clarity is important, this is your value to your target customers. Out of all the challenges the world is facing right now, dig deep —do your due diligence and know the specific area or industry you would like to pursue. You can kick it off by answering the questions…

Why will they need your solution? Count the frequency of your possible use cases when they choose your solution — is it solving a problem they are facing everyday? Or at least a couple of days in a week?

Weigh your options as well, choosing a battle that’s close to your heart is something worth winning. You may also want to relate to the pulse of the people by means of checking where the consumer demand is growing.

Rule of Thumb: Keep yourself up to date with the market trends as it may directly or indirectly impact you and your startup in the long run.

Make a Brand Out of It.

Once you have identified the solution area that you will pursue, it’s time to brainstorm, build the image for your target audience and solution you are bound to offer.

This is quite a hard task because imagine, the vision is to on board thousands to hopefully millions of users and remember they have really high standards. A brand name that sounds off may impact your credibility.

Collaborate with Others, Partner with the Best

Involvement of others in the ideation stage of your project is crucial in building your solution.

Nowadays, you will be able to achieve your goals sooner than you think if you consider partnering with people who already have the skill and same drive as yours. Make sure to choose the best, and the ones you trust.

Rule of Thumb: building from scratch takes time and is not efficient at all.

Choose the Best Technologies Available for You

This will test your technical capabilities and your appreciation with the available technologies around you. There’s no need to build something from scratch, all you need is to evaluate what you think will best.

As you design your solution, visualize how it looks like in the perspective of users? How will the process look like? If I were to build my own app or solution, here are the things I need to prepare:

  1. User Experience Design — containing story boards and wire frames, consider this as the heart of your project. In this phase, I will need to envision myself as the end-user and ensure I am getting my desired output as fast and efficient as I could. You may even want to build apps that will support accessiblity for the majority of your target users.

2. Architecture Design — the blueprint of the project. As I am already involved in the ideation stage, I will have to work with the most trusted people within my network in designing how users will connect to the app, what technologies shall we involve? Are we going to involve existing platforms or build the app from scratch for further customization? It is ideal to have at least 3 alternative blueprints before moving to the next step — app or solutions development.

3. Cloud Solution Provider — where will I host my application? Top of mind options are Microsoft Azure, AWS or Google Cloud. Did you know that you can deploy apps and solutions in few minutes through hosting it over the Cloud Solution Providers? It would also translate to scalability for you when the demand for our app spikes and we will only pay for what we use, no need to buy hardware or assemble networks in the deployment. Everything can be done remotely.

4. Total Cost of Ownership — how much will the overall cost look like in maintaining our app in a monthly or annual projection? Through the services and technologies that we will involve in the project, we be able to predict it through the chosen Cloud Provider’s Cost Calculator.

Decide for What You Think is Best

As you finalize your Solution Architecture, always think of long term, what’s best for your end-users — experience wise and cost for you to build and maintain the solution as a secondary factor.

You may even start with free credits from Cloud Providers to get your hands dirty for the first month. This decision needs to be done collectively with the peers you have involved in your project.

Deliberate with an open mind, reflect from different perspectives and within then ultimately derive with a sound conclusion.

Final Thoughts and Some Action Items

A plan will remain as is if we do not act on it. Of course there is no perfect way to build an app or solution from ground up but I hope you were able to get some points to get you going.

On my three years working with a Cloud Provider like Microsoft, I was able to see for myself and even be involved on the ground on how the support system looks like on a local standpoint. How they are willing to fund a project development for startups and involve their internal resource people as long as the plans are sound and potential is huge — it’s actually a Win-Win situation for all.

If you are reading this and you’re from outside the Philippines, I can attest the framework is similar. I am happy to offer free 30-minute consultation if you are lost in the process.

If you have noticed, a big factor involved empathy in a handful of ways on my definition of Solutions Building — from understanding the needs of your potential users to collaboration with your peers and the broader through partner engagement. It is a driving force that will allow you to make it all happen.

Gab Villanueva is a Business Development Manager for Filipino ISV & Startups, trainer and consultant for Digital Transformation and Cloud Computing 🌥