What is a digital product

What are digital products?

I asked various people in my environment what they mean by a “digital product”, including engineers, designers, testers, marketeers and film producers. I received the following answers:

“By this I mean a product that does essentially without any physical components. Software is the basis. That's why I don't see an e-book as a digital product, for example, because it is just the digital version of an analog product. "

"In short, it is a product that is used on IT systems, whether laptops, mobile phones or supercomputers, in order to fulfill a specific purpose."

“For me, a digital product is a product or service that contains an important digital component. By important, I mean that the product would not achieve its primary goals if this component did not exist. Example: Smart Watch. »

"It can be hardware or software, something that works discreetly and therefore has no analog properties."

Of course, this little “survey” is not representative. Nevertheless, the consensus of these answers surprised me. I would rather have expected the definitions to be less clear-cut and more in the direction of e-books, music files or online tickets. That most understand it to be the digital form of an analog product. But maybe I'm already moving too much in a bubble that deals very intensively with a new understanding of digital products.

Digital products: adding value, software-based, holistic

A digital product generally generates value in two directions: On the one hand, for the user, for whom it brings a specific benefit or helps to solve a specific problem. On the other hand, for the company, by directly or indirectly generating sales or contributing to another non-monetary corporate goal (e.g. reputation).

Complex interactions take place between the part of the digital product used by the user (front-end) and the overall system (back-end). Software is the very foundation of this product - it may or may not have an additional physical component.

Various areas are involved in the development of a digital product, for example strategy, design, development, testing, product management or marketing. A holistic view of the product and cross-team collaboration are crucial. This makes the development of digital products cost-intensive, but effective. Nobody benefits from a product that is first class from a technological point of view, but rather complicated to use and therefore unusable for the user.

Digital products in Switzerland

There are already some good solutions in Switzerland. The neon account app is an exciting example. With an intuitive onboarding process, customers can open their bank account within 10 minutes - digitally and paperless. In addition, neon is the first Swiss account provider to remove all card fees and exchange rate surcharges. This makes the card extremely cheap.

The Amigos social shopping app is another award-winning Swiss project. Migros customers compile their shopping lists via a web platform. Volunteers accept this order via the Amigos app. You go shopping and deliver the shopping home. Especially in Corona times, the app shows its value for the purpose of helping the neighborhood.

These are two prime examples. In the Swiss software landscape, however, digital products are too often thought of in terms of technology. The focus is on frameworks, tools or programming languages. Software is undoubtedly important, but it doesn't make a good digital product on its own. As mentioned above, a good digital product is more than just technology.

Design is also central, although design in this context means much more than just "making it beautiful". Design goes far beyond visual design. Rather, it is a mindset, a way of working and strategic methods that put the user at the center.

Photo by Daniel Korpai on Unsplash