Adventures in Product Innovation: Using Art to Answer The IT Question From Hell

We have had the privilege of working with fantastic IT departments in Fortune 500 companies. Every once in awhile, we see a different experience play out where internal IT teams look at our software and think, “Oh, you guys have input screens and outputs. Surely, we can build that in house.  How hard can it be?” Because that view overlooks our software’s deep foundations in decision analysis and portfolio management, that story does not end well for the IT team. Of course, it can be challenging to get the IT department to see how the story will end before they commit to a doomed course.

In the summer of 2015, we had a very unique intern work for us. Puneet Sharma was in the Information Science masters program at UC Berkeley and had taken classes on ethnography. This was quite relevant to us as an ethnographic research background greatly aids us in better listening skills in product development. It turned out that Puneet had also taken a formal class on art. We decided to tap into that talent by requesting him to make a comic book for us.

“Adventures in Product Innovation” tells the tale of product sales conversations that get derailed when IT departments lose sight of the particular subject matter expertise that underlies SmartOrg’s innovation portfolio management platform. Puneet brought this story to life in a form that helps our prospective customers know that we have seen this movie many times, and we can help them flip the script to go straight to the happy Hollywood ending.

Now, when we get asked the IT question from hell, “Why can’t we build your software in-house,” we show this comic book as our answer.  It helps address a difficult question with humor and art.

If you have been thinking of working with us and are getting the same question internally, feel free to show this comic to your team.  You can also reassure your IT team that SmartOrg has taken a partnership-oriented view of IT. . Our intention is to allow internal IT teams to become co-innovators with us. Since they are much closer to their business than we are, we wanted to empower them to build custom applications quickly on top of our platform.

To make this easy, we have gone the extra mile and built our entire platform on top of an API that we have exposed through SDKs.  We have already put out a Javascript SDK that makes it easy to build front-end Javascript applications using our API. Our next SDK will be in C# and that will release in the new year. We intend to support other languages that enterprise IT teams commonly use. Please ask us for more information.