4 Strategies for Making Your Product ‘Smarter’

Originally Published on Entrepreneur.com

“Smart” is the dominant trend in the area of entrepreneurship and innovation. In recent times, a plethora of new products have arrived that make an existing product “smarter” by incorporating sensors, connecting the product to their backend or adding intelligence in the product. Reimagining existing products to be smarter and better for the end user is a gold mine for innovation. Here are four ways to rethink your products and make them smarter.

1. Understand user intent and motivations.

Make your products smarter by making it listen and understand the intent of your user. What is the user trying to do at a given time or at a given location on a specific channel? By listening for signals that motivate the usage of your product, and accounting for how variations in these signals change how your product is used, you can predict and influence how your product should adjust to better serving the end user.

For example, a smart refrigerator can detect the contents, match it against the required ingredients for a decided dinner menu and remind the user to restock a certain missing ingredient.

2. Reach users at the right time.

You can make your products smarter by reaching the user at the right time with the right message, even if the user is not using the product at a given point in time. Making the product aware of the user’s environment offers the opportunity to craft a personalized message to enhance the user experience. You can then motivate and influence the user to use the product at the opportune time in the manner that is most beneficial for both the user and the product.

For example, a smart app can detect the user’s location in a particular grocery aisle and alert them an item they need to replace is on sale.

3. Enable good decisions.

Smart products help the user make the best decisions. By understanding the user’s context and their current environment, you can suggest alternatives, recommend choices or simply notify them of changes in their environment they might otherwise not have noticed. This capability enables the user to make informed choices and decisions, thus enhancing their experience and satisfaction from the product.

For example, by integrating traffic signals in a navigation system, the user can be notified of alternate routes when there are problems in their usual route.

4. Enhance user experience.

You can make your products smarter by enhancing the user’s experience, regardless of where they are in their journey with your product. If they are a new user, your product should help them onboard. If they are an active user, your product should make them more productive. If they are a dissatisfied user, your product should detect their dissatisfaction and offer the appropriate support and guidance to help them recover. In parallel, the product should learn from their situation and use this feedback in redesigning or refactoring the product.

For example, a product company that performs sentiment analysis on their twitter stream is able to swiftly detect user discontent and feed that into their support ticketing system for immediate response and follow up.

The ability to collect telemetry of how your product is being used, use sensors to detect the environment in which it is being used and use customer usage history in the backend to understand user intent has the potential to reinvigorate your existing products to be smarter and more beneficial for their users. Similarly, reimagining or innovating using the above principles offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to disrupt current products and markets and ride the “smart” wave to success.


Signals and Insights: Value, Reach, Demand

Published Originally on Apigee

The mobile and apps economy means that the interaction between businesses and their customers and partners happens in an ever broader context, meaning that the amount of data that enterprises gather is exploding. Business is being done on multiple devices, and through apps, social networks, and cloud services.

It is important to think about signals when thinking about the value that is hidden in your enterprises data. Signals point towards insights. The ability to uncover, identify, and enhance these signals is the only way to make your big data work for you and succeed in the app economy.

Types of Signals

There are three types of signals that an enterprise should track and utilize in its decision making and strategic planning.

Value Signals

When customers use an enterprise’s products or services, they generate value signals. The actions that are part of searching, discovering, deciding, and purchasing a product or service offer signals into the perceived value of the product or service. These signals examined through the lens of user context (such as their profile, demographics, interests, past transaction history, and locality in time and space to interesting events and locations) deliver insights into business critical customer segments and their preference, engagement, and perceived value.

Reach Signals

When developers invest in the enterprise’s API platform and choose the APIs to create apps, they create reach signals. They are the signals around the attractiveness and perceived value of the enterprise’s products and services. Developers take on dependencies on APIs because they believe that such dependencies will help them in creating value for the end users of their apps and ultimately themselves. Developer adoption and engagement is a signal that offers a leading indicator and insight into the value and delivery of an enterprise’s products and services.

Demand Signals

When end users request information and data from the enterprises’ core data store, they generate demand signals on the enterprises’ information. These demand signals, within the user context deliver insights into the perceived value of the enterprise’s information along with context around the information (such as the source, type, freshness, quality, comprehensiveness and cache-ability). These insights offers a deep understanding of the impact of information on end user completed transactions and engagement.

Apigee Insights offers the expertise, mechanisms, and capabilities to extract and understand these signals from the enterprise data that sits within, at the edge, and outside the edge of the enterprise. Apigee Insights is built from the ground up to identify, extract and accentuate the value, reach and demand signals that drive business critical insights for the enterprise.

Security & Privacy in the App Economy

Published Originally on Apigee

As enterprises adjust to the new reality of business having moved beyond their core and legacy systems of record – to millions of mobile devices and social networks at the edge of the enterprise, to new distribution channels in the shape of apps which are often built by third party or partner developers – the question of end user privacy becomes increasingly important. As the app economy matures, it’s participants will have to quickly move from self governance to establishing standards or even regulation to address end-user privacy expectations.

Who is responsible for security and privacy when dealing with applications and APIs?

In the era of the browser, privacy questions were handled expressly between the website operator and the end user. The end user consented to using the products and services exposed through the website and had the right to agree to the policies set forth by the web site operator.

In the app economy, the value chain changes forcing a change in how privacy and privacy policy need to be managed and crafted. The question of privacy will quickly rise higher in the minds of end users as the app economy matures.

Who is ultimately responsible for privacy and policy in the app economy?

End users? API providers? App developers?
The answer is all of the above!

End Users

Privacy is really the control that a user has on their definition in an environment that they are familiar with and understand how it functions. The world of apps is a new environment that end users are only becoming familiar with and privacy best practices from the browser world can be found severely lacking in this new environment. Users will demand similar rights as they do in the online/browser world, including:

  • Understand and view the information being collected about them

  • The ability to choose what information can be collected and for what purposes it can be used beyond the immediate product or service

  • The ability to contest the accuracy of information collected about them

  • Understand the security of processes and systems used to store and process their private data


Through the ability of APIs and apps to reach new markets and end users across the globe, the enterprises might find themselves operating in completely new markets and geographic regions and therefore find themselves bound to the privacy regulations in several parts of the world. This means that enterprises will have to increasingly deal with different privacy rules and regulations for the same services and products. New products and technologies are required to operate in this new environment.

App Developers

The app developer who might not have been thinking about their end-user privacy expectations will very soon have to worry about how and what end user information they collect, store, process, and share. Preparing for success requires developers to be cognizant of privacy and security issues and utilize best practices while building their apps.

Developers should collect only the data required to offer the best experience to end users. They should not store user data without users’ permission. User data should be obfuscated or encrypted if possible, and so on.

As apps become popular, as usage increases and becomes more personalized, these requirements and considerations can be ominous and a distraction for developers. They too will need a new set of tools and technologies to help them deal with privacy expectations, consent, and data management solutions.


A whole host of factors including the advent of big data technologies, publicly available information sources optimized for consumption, sophisticated behavioral analysis for personalization, and the advent of recommendation and predictive products and services, end users will become more concerned about their privacy. They will demand a single point of contact and tools to understand their privacy considerations and control their information and its usage.

Is the app economy ready for this challenge?

Here are some steps that can be taken to get ahead of the problem.


  • Understand and provide to your end users privacy policies and data handling procedures for all services that your app uses

  • Choose APIs (and services) for your app that are highly reputed and offer best-in-class privacy handling and mitigation procedures

  • Enable end users to connect with services directly regarding their policy questions

  • Utilize cloud-based data storage providers that are privacy and security certified


  • Consider the entire value chain from a security perspective – from API to developer to app to end user

  • Build capability to distinguish between good and malicious apps that use your APIs

  • Detect malicious apps and take steps to block such apps and notify end users of these apps and help them deal with any privacy outages

  • Enable end users of apps that use your APIs to understand your data collecting and privacy policies