7 ways cloud technologies make digital product launches easier
Launching new products has been streamlined, with cloud solutions for concept testing, development, hosting, delivering, selling, and analysing
It truly is an exciting time to be a tech start-up. For starters, digital products don’t require having the clout of a large corporation to get launched.
Imagine what Apple went through when it launched the iPhone 7 recently. Given the short period between launching the 6S and the 7, all that effort to get its product out in a matter of months cost billions. Its research and development team alone spent $2.5bn in Q2 this year.
Launching digital products could be more forgiving. Just check out the number of people working from homes and garages putting out apps and digital content. Developments in cloud technologies are helping too. Here’s how the cloud has made end-to-end digital product management easier.
1. Big data can help test product concepts
A common pitfall in many ventures is focusing on features of the product, oftentimes skipping answering the fundamental question – “What problem or need am I solving?” Unless you’re the next Steve Jobs, it’s often wise to take note of what people think and need when you’re coming up with a product concept.
In the old days, this would probably mean holding focus groups and doing market surveys and research. While there’s no substitute to doing these, you could benefit checking what issues are trending in your target market through services such as Google Trends or checking out what’s trending in Facebook or Twitter. You can also scour forums and even Reddit for insights from consumers.
2. Platforms and frameworks speed up development
Thanks to the cloud, everything is now offered as-a-Service. This includes development frameworks and back-end services. Using these tools could help trim development effort and time especially if you are working with a bare bones team and tight schedules.
For example, mobile games now require features such as leaderboards and progress synchronisation online. These used to require developing a new web application outside the game itself. Now, with Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS), game developers can focus more on delivering better game mechanics knowing that a chunk of their development effort doesn’t need to be spent developing the back-end.
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3. Cloud hosting solves capacity issues
Putting up a web application or e-commerce website used to take significant infrastructure investments like data centre rentals or physical in-premises servers. Making such investments requires capacity planning to make sure that the set-up would have enough computing resources to deal with the expected traffic.
If the product has slow adoption, you might be looking at plenty of unused resources while waiting for growth. If the product becomes a hit, you might be looking at outages due to running over capacity. Cloud computing now offers Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) which offers quick scalability. With cloud hosting services like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, scaling your resources up or down can be done on demand when you need it.
4. Cloud services helps deliver products quicker and more reliably
Most digital product consumers are both demanding and fickle. If they want something, they want it quick or else. Outages and slow load times can easily turn prospects into lost sales so your system should perform speedily and have excellent up time.
Technologies such as content delivery networks (CDNs) speed up loading by caching content to locations near your end users. Load balancers prevent servers from traffic surges and can also have site fail over features that flip to backup servers in case your primary gets overwhelmed. CDNs and load balancing used to be done through hardware but network optimisation and security firm Incapsula took these solutions to the cloud, offering a cloud-based CDN service which can be set up conveniently.
5. Monetisation solutions provide options for revenue
Creating a good product is one thing, knowing how you’d make money out of it is another. There are several established business models that you can adopt to monetise your product through advertising or selling as a paid/premium product.
You can opt to earn by serving ads through your product. Google AdSense continues to be the leading ad network on the web and can be deployed on web and mobile applications. Or, your product can be a premium paid-for product either through a one-time fee or subscriptions. There are plenty of channels you can use to sell your product. Apps, books, audio, and video can be sold through the Apple’s iTunes Store, Google Play Store, and Amazon. Even Facebook allows you to sell through your Facebook page.
6. Social media helps you get the word out
Your digital audience will all be on social media so your online presence is key. If your product is an app, then you can also put in features that would link to users’ social media accounts to promote your product or your page. If you are selling content, then creating a community of users through a page where you could post excerpts and other curated content can boost your visibility. Twitter Marketing Automation tools like Narrow.io can help automating twitter growth and gaining momentum on social media. A tool such as Quuu Promote helps you spread your content on social media to get more eyeballs and presence.
7. Analytics tracks performance
As with any effort, you should be using metrics to see how well your product is performing. By employing analytics, you can monitor how much revenue gets generated, what channels are helping your sales, and who are (or aren’t) buying your product.
Services such as CrazyEgg which shows a wealth of information about a visitor’s behaviors and page performance can be implemented on your website through its heatmap tracking feature. Facebook has its own analytics for Pages so you can also check how your page, as a channel, is performing. With solid numbers, you can either continue what you’ve been doing or, if not, make the crucial pivot to shake things up.
The cloud offers a wealth of services that could help you bring your digital product into fruition. All you need to do is have that winning concept and power on through developing it until you launch. Just know that you can always work smart and maximise what technology has to offer to make life easier for your venture.
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