I devised 5 problems for people to work on. The problems weren’t as important as the interactions between the group members. The idea was to stimulate discussion from people that were completely foreign to each other and to exchange ideas. It was similar to the workshops that I had run for Next Digital and my involvement with Deloitte’s Innovation Cafe. Hopefully, they can use these workshop ideas for their organisations and products.
The process was that each group had a specific problem and was assigned a leader with experience in that area. For 15 minutes each group brainstormed, wrote down their thoughts and came back to present to the wider group. The leader for each group gave a 4 minute presentation with their results to the Product Camp audience.
Workshop #1: Launch a new smartphone for Nokia
Question: A well known OEM for handsets (Nokia) is fast losing ground in the smartphone race. What new phone/services can they introduce to regain market share? Led by Yoo-Jin.
I chose this question, because I have read a lot about this area and I use to run an Android blog. I knew the problems that Nokia was having to stay competitive. I’d also just finished writing an article for work on Android vs iOS the day before.
Top product suggestions:
- Focus on UX (be more like the iPhone – of course!)
- Get back to their roots – simplify the product
- Consider creating burners. These are throw away phones used by the drug dealers in the tv series The Wire!
- Create a simple product for kids – a phone with three buttons. One button for home, school and emergency. Apparently a similar type of phone used to exist.
Workshop #2: Brainstorm new features to monetise Linkedin
Question: Given that Linkedin has an $8BN warchest after their IPO, what features could they introduce to generate more revenue from existing users? Led by Nick Coster from Brainmates (ex-eBay product manager)
I floated between all the groups and this seemed to be the most intense group in terms of discussion. I knew the LinkedIn website fairly well from being a heavy user and following their IPO news. I also heard LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman speak at SXSW earlier this year and got to ask him a question during the Q&A session.
Interestingly, in this group of 10 people only one person actually paid for a Linkedin Subscription. There were some really good ideas that came out of this group.
Top feature suggestions
- Data mining was the key – ability to sell this data to advertisers and organisations.
- Creating organisation charts
- Knowing employees sentiment (are they happy)
- Ability to view an organisation’s turnover rate
There were many more suggestions, these were only a few. If Linkedin had these features, I’m sure they’d have a greater conversion from free to paid.
Workshop #3: How can we improve Gmail?
Question: How can Gmail improve its service? What new features could the Gmail product team introduce to make email more productive? Paul from Google Docs lead this workshop.
I know the Gmail product fairly well, and I assumed that others did as well.
Best Feature suggestions
- Game of gmail: Getting points or a badge to display you were a gmail guru to your network. You might be able to display this on your Facebook or linkedin profile and people could ask you questions.
- Quick Image preview
- Rather than Gmail priority inbox guess which emails were more of a priority, the user could set this up.
Workshop #4: Create new features for a photo sharing application?
Question: Instagram has grown exponentially over the past 6 months, acquiring more than 2 million users. What features could they introduce to start monetising over the next 12 months?
This was led by my friend Alvin Singh, Funkworks / ex Solution Architect @ True Local.
Top Feature Suggestion
- Ability to recognise brand pictures and provide a brand a feed of their pictures similar to the Twitter firehose API. These pics could then be livestreamed onto a billboard. The group gave an example that Coca Cola. Live Coke pics could be streamed onto the billboard at Kings Cross.
- Game scavenger hunt – Look for pictures in a city and win prizes based on completion.
- Licensing photos to photo publishers like Getty Images
Workshop #5: Generate more revenue from in-flight purchases
Question: Travel margins are decreasing, oil prices are increasing. So how can Airlines like QANTAS generate more in-flight revenue?
This was a really specific question, which I hear a lot of people in the travel industry talking about (margins decreasing). Fortunately we had a few people in the audience that had travel industry experience.
Top feature suggestion
- Massages: I heard the word “priority” mentioned!
- Group buying platform: Ability to auction off business class seats that were empty just before people got on the flight
- Ability to target ads at specific travellers
The workshops turned out better than I could have imagined. It was really hard getting people to finish up and get back into the room! I knew that with such a room of intelligent and experienced people, that they had the ideas.
This workshop format also encouraged some people that might not have had the chance to speak, because of the limited number of speaking spots available. It gave them the ability to voice their opinion in a smaller group setting, and let more people present in the 1 hour.
They only needed some encouragement to think laterally and I lit that fire in their creative minds.
Tweets from the audience