Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a common technique employed by startups and companies creating new products. The logic is simple: Add the minimum number of features and limit scope so you have a product that works and shows the potential to early adopters. The hope is that users will help guide the future direction, so features can evolve in such a way that drives future revenue and growth. Ideally the MVP period doesn’t last too long, and the product features start to evolve; otherwise customers can easily get frustrated. This is one potential downfall of MVP; there are others. Often companies hope that their users will guide the development efforts with insightful and innovative ideas, so development efforts can be minimized. In reality, this probably will not happen. Early users may have insight into adopting new technologies in their business, but this assumes that users are technical and knowledgeable enough to do that. Will their experiences generate ideas that translate to valuable features appealing to a wider customer base?

There are two sides to the MVP value argument, namely that you innovate via customer feedback or that true innovation is the product of visionaries. Neither is completely true, although you might get lucky. I prefer an approach whereby we understand our customers’ needs and problems via quality research and communication. We then marry that with our best architects, designers and visionaries sprinkled with a deep understanding of the industry and technology. Success in terms of valuable and compelling solutions will likely come only from research and understanding – what is often called doing the hard yards. However, in the era of disruptions, even that might not be enough. We must continually test our vision against reality and what our customers either want or need as new business challenges and technology changes evolve.

Often companies hope that their users will guide the development efforts with insightful and innovative ideas, so development efforts can be minimized.Paul Wade, Vice President of Product

I’m extremely impressed with SAP as a company and they are a great example of a company that listens and learns; they continually assess and evolve. Their software-defined ERP concept rapidly took a dominant position in a competitive marketplace and has continued to evolve with great new concepts such as in-memory databases. More recently, the system of record has adapted to become a platform for digital business. They are betting big on cloud strategies, and with security concerns disappearing for cloud computing, who’s to say this won’t be highly successful?

With this strength in the marketplace in mind, SMA Solutions set about evolving our own SAP integration. It was clear from research that our customers wanted more control and greater integration between SAP tasks and those happening elsewhere in the business; in other words, non-SAP tasks. Stronger control over child processes and automated recovery were also key data points in our discussions. The result is super-strength SAP automation which has come to market at just the right time to offer highly advanced automation capabilities to existing customers and to entice new ones. We may just have taken what was once our MVP (our SAP integration) and evolved it to potentially be our Most Valuable Player (MVP).