Challenges with Problem Exploration and Validation in the B2B Domain
ISSN der Zeitschrift
Digital Enterprise Computing (DEC 2017)
Gesellschaft für Informatik, Bonn
Developing new products and services, which create value for customers in dynamic business environments, is highly challenging. A deep understanding of potential customers and their problems is required before deciding which features or capabilities to develop. In order to gain a better understanding of the problems it is helpful to engage with potential customers, ask them about their pains and listen closely to what they say. Lean and agile product management approaches provide techniques for exploring problems, revealing the underlying problem-related assumptions, and validating problems. Until now, these methods have been mainly used in Business-to-Consumer (B2C) domains. There is a lack of reported experience and knowledge about challenges when applying problem exploration and validation techniques in the Business-to-Business (B2B) domain. This article presents a case study about a product development effort in a large IT company offering software-intensive products and services in the B2B domain. The objective of the study is to identify the B2B-specific challenges with respect to problem exploration and validation. Results from the case study show that the huge number of various problems and their variations in B2B contexts, partially caused by different company environments, makes it difficult to identify the most relevant problems and to align them with a suitable customer segment. By utilizing an approach that iterates problem exploration and problem validation, it is possible to create a ranked problem list that can support customer segmentation and guide the product development.