You see the ads everywhere: "Build your own website!" "Manage your own SEO!" "Setup your own custom email!" These products are everything they promise and more, but ignore some fundamental characteristics of a large part of their customer base, which presents a fantastic opportunity for ambitious entrepreneurs willing to take the leap.
What are self-service tech products?
The business model of many web-based products and services today hinge on providing the everyday consumer access to technology that previously was only in the domain of experts. These vendors do everything they can to make the user experience as simple and approachable as possible: beautiful and intuitive interfaces, ample training tutorials and resources, and multiple methods for engaging with customer support. All of this effort is put into ensuring that the customer can motivate, teach, and perform the activities of using these products all on their own.
What are the assumptions?
1. Customers can motivate themselves - It is possible to cook your own meals everyday, but few actually do that because there is a convenience and expediency that comes from going out to eat. The same logic applies here.
2. Customers have the time - These customers have long "day jobs" that require their utmost focus so they can provide for themselves and their families. Finding the time to learn and do the self-service work on their own is a big ask.
3. Customers can overcome mental hurdles - There is still a very large segment of the population that is tech-shy and considers doing the work themselves a non-starter, regardless of how easy you tell them it is.
4. Customers have the skill sets - Not everyone is suited to every job or task. Not everyone has an eye for aesthetics or modern user experience principles. Nor is everyone is suited for navigating head scratching systems configurations.
5. Customers have a strategy- No organization makes a significant technology investment without understanding their core requirements for the long play. Individuals should be approaching this products the same way, but don't.
These assumptions describe a large group of potential customers that could benefit from the products or services offered if it weren't for the fact that they have to do it themselves.
What's the opportunity?
Consulting is a age-old model for bridging the gap between needs and capabilities. A consultant specializes in one subject or related sets of subjects and then sells their expertise. The more they sell and apply their expertise, the better they become and the more business they can generate. Customers benefit from significant time savings and less rework from the efficiencies of having the work carried out by an expert from the beginning. There are plenty of consultancies out there though, so why aren't they jumping on this right now?
Self-service technology products are often paired with a freemium model, whereby entry-level version of the product are at low- or no-cost to the customer. The idea is that the customers will get a basic version of the product to road test. They would then pay to upgrade to more full-featured versions. However, for many people's needs the basic version would suit them just fine. If customers are paying next to nothing (or nothing at all) for these capabilities then it makes it hard for multi-national consulting firms to make the math work. That isn't the case for an individual with much lower overhead costs to start a business consulting on these products to the average consumer.
Where does iTechnologist come in?
We provide training and support to independent tech consultants who specialize in these self-service, freemium technology products. For those interested in an in-depth look at the business model for operating one of these consulting practices, start with our FREE Basic Consulting Course today.