Digital Culture 4.0: The MVP


Getting the show on the road in the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) is no easy task, but there are proven methodologies that work and embed not only a new series of processes, products, technologies but help to establish the Digital Culture 4.0

In so doing the 'hardened' operational guys move to utilize the information technology as it helps them do their job better, faster and innovatively.

But in this new data rich digital age, with so much jargon, what's the MVP all about and how is it an intrinsic part of the Digital Culture?

The Way We Do Things Around Here

While infrastructure and technology are clearly important considerations, digital transformation is as much about the people and changing the way they approach business problems and how they find solutions.

Over the last few weeks we've discussed the significant components of the Digital Culture 4IR / 4.0; Offense, Customer-Centricity, Data People and this week we explore the culture and approach of business and product development via the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Introducing a new technology or way of working into your business means re-engineering existing processes, changing existing interactions and training your users. It requires a lot of effort for the change to take a permanent effect. Furthermore, it's important to ensure the new technology is meeting all expectations, both internally and externally, along its journey.

How do you ensure that? By creating Proof of Concept (POC), then Prototype, running an MVP project, and eventually going live.

POC vs Prototype vs MVP: What's The Difference?

POC, Prototype, and MVP mean different things but often are used interchangeably. I explore the true different meanings.

These days, I'm finding it very common for people to become confused over the terms in 4IR development because it’s frequently assumed the product is the focal of attention. Well, in a Digital Culture, it’s not. 

So what does it mean when people talk about a proof of concept (PoC), prototype, or a minimum viable product (MVP) in industry? What’s the difference between these terms, and why do they matter?

It’s not always about the product stage, it’s more often about the maturity of the company.

At the centre of the transformation sits a customer problem, known or perhaps unknown until you present a better way to them. You suspect there are a number of B2C or B2B problems potentially out there and establish a cross-function focus team to explore all. Over time they arrive at a number of envisioned product, translated to mere equipments, devices, services or experiences that solve the various problems. They have simply developed a series of proposed explanations made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation. 

* Bubbles represent the associated costs.


As a result, every business starts at the proof-of-concept stage and truthfully when considering the 4IR, we leap back to the "start of time", even for a quick glimpse. As a progressive company, your Focus Team believes it has identified a number of potential problems or improvement areas with your product and now it is their job to prove they've identified a profitable working product of real value to the market/customer. 

The PoC isn’t the first version of the product, but merely the 1st step in the process, starting with the validation of Focus Team assumptions and business model. It can involve extensive market research or it could mean running a draft business with manual systems. Based upon the market feedback, it can demonstrate the demand and viability of the product. 


Having now seen that the Problem & Solution now has "legs" and gained some senior "buy-in", it's time to start thinking about creating the first version of your digitalized product.

The prototype is a first model of something, from which others advance. In the Digital Transformation, a prototype is the completed visual representation of how the product might look and interact. 

Once an experienced team has created a prototype for you, you can then share it with groups of prospective users and go through various rounds of feedback and revisions to optimize the prototype. Doing some final stage user testing and getting feedback on your prototype is crucial. 


Once you have your revised and approved prototype, you can start looking into development and turning your prototype into an MVP!

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a fully functioning and market-ready product that is developed with only the features necessary to satisfy the early adopters (your first batch of real consumers) and directly address the problem and opportunity in the market. Think of it as your prototype brought to life.

The real technique to an MVP is to have a lean and minimum function product as possible, in order to learn what features, functions, interactions, and experiences the customer actually demands, rather than guessing the demand.

4IR Transformation 

The underlying principle behind a Minimum Viable Product is to learn quickly with minimal investment. As you iterate and build multiple MVPs and MVFeatures to create the Minimum Marketable Product (MMP), the ultimate goal is to continually validate assumptions and respond to market feedback.

The Focus Team should ideally be incubated and allowed to focus, mix and communicate across the enterprise, continually failing, learning and eventually arriving at the very best solution for the market. And in so doing, the organization is included in the change and thus empowered to utilize as you continue to transform.

The journey through the 4th Industrial Revolution (Industry4.0 / IIoT) is one reliant on a changing culture where everyone adapts their way of thinking to the data and digital age. The journey and rewards leave no day without challenges.

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Best wishes, Andrew