Product Strategy Recommendations

July 09, 2022

I took an online course and learned the frameworks and concepts needed to create sticky, memorable product experiences. The firm I choose to apply to is Thought Machine, a product company. It has built the core banking product, transforming the banking industry and empowering banks to offer innovative services to their customers.

It has substantial growth and raised $200M in the recent Series C funding round with industry-leading VCs and leading global banks, including Nyca Partners, Molten Ventures, JPMorgan and Standard Chartered, bringing our total funding to $350M at a £1bn+ valuation. Thought Machine works with several banks from Tier 1 to Challengers, such as Atom Bank, Curve, Lord Banking Group, Monese, SEB, Standard Chartered, TransferGo, Arvest, ING and JP Morgan Chase.

Thought Machine products is Vault, a ledger on cloud-native platforms (including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure) with no legacy technology. Through Smart Contracts, Vault can be configured to run any retail bank product with flexibility, such as current accounts, savings, loans, credit cards, and mortgages.

Levels of the product

A framework that explains how a product is more than its function - the best products include a core product that meets a psychological need.

Augmented Product

  • All data is transmitted in and out of the Ledger in real-time, providing rich data streaming for AI and reporting.

  • Banks can manage anything from international currencies to crypto and reward points.

  • Payments processing platform that enables any bank to run all payments for every method, scheme, and region in the world

Actual Product

  • Modern core banking platform in the cloud uses state-of-the-art infrastructure

  • Product Library, a catalogue of more than 200 pre-configured financial products, such as current and savings accounts, loans, and mortgages.

  • The platform is built around an API-first architecture, giving banks the power to connect to services and technologies from other vendors.

Core Product

  • Reducing capital expenditure for on-premise hardware and significantly reducing their carbon footprint.

  • Enable banks to innovate and offer new financial services to their customers.

  • With Vault Core as Universal Product Engine, banks can run any product they wish

Competitive Landscape

Examples of each level of competition – narrow, form, need and substitute – for the product.

Narrow

Products nearly indistinguishable from yours, with the same core and actual product.

  • Mambu
  • Termenos
  • Finastra

Form

Similar actual products that compete for wallet share but aren’t perfect substitutes.

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365
  • 10x
  • FIS MBP

Need

Similar core products that meet the same need for the user (may be different actual products).

  • Legacy systems, such as IBM mainframe

Resource

Products that compete for the same customer resource (i.e. money, time, attention, appetite).

  • Excel
  • Fiserv
  • Silverlake

Niche Evaluation

Assess the product’s niche based on Professor Alter’s four criteria of a strong niche.

Size

How many people have that need?

Global retail core banking market to be worth just over £6bn globally.

Identifiable

How would you identify/tell whether an individual has that need?

  • Newly open banks with a new digital bank license
  • The legacy system needs to migrate to a cloud platform

Accessible

What channels should you use for marketing to individuals with that need?

  • Management consultant who works in the bank
  • Partner sells in the banking ecosystem

Predictable Behaviors

What buying or usage behaviours do people that have this need exhibit?

  • Banks who want to complete with other banks and differentiate their financial products

Friction Audit

List every point at which the customer interacts with the product, areas of friction in that touchpoint, and how Thought Machine could remove that friction.

Phrase: Pre-Purchase Customer Touchpoint: Accessing risk Friction: Banks are risk-averse and not willing to change. Solution: Introducing Agile Methodology

Phrase: Pre-Purchase Customer Touchpoint: Joining demo sessions Friction: Banks with out of dated knowledge of technology Solution: Introducing modern cloud architecture

Phrase: Pre-Purchase Customer Touchpoint: Making decisions Friction: Bank decision-maker have a close personal relationships with others Solution: Making friends with the decision-maker

Phrase: Purchase Customer Touchpoint: Signing Contract Friction: Complex legal documents on software license Solution: Simplify and standardize the terms and conditions of the service agreement

Phrase: Purchase Customer Touchpoint: Writing Statement of Work Friction: Banks may not have the complete requirements. Solution: Engage early and provide a technical estimation

Phrase: Purchase Customer Touchpoint: Forming teams Friction: Lack of talent resources in the bank to join the project Solution: Bring in system integration partners.

Phrase: Post-Purchase Customer Touchpoint: Product installation Friction: Banks have difficulty installing the product. Solution: Provide expert service for support

Phrase: Post-Purchase Customer Touchpoint: Product documentation Friction: Banks developers have difficulty understanding how the product works. Solution: Provide enablement training and a self-service learning portal

Phrase: Post-Purchase Customer Touchpoint: Production support Friction: Banks need to ensure the stability of the platform. Solution: 7x24 product support available and triage by severity levels

Product Innovation

The sweet spot of incremental innovation is the intersection of articulated needs for unserved customers or unarticulated needs for served customers. Below is a list of target customers’ needs:

  • Out-of-the-box core banking service

  • Flexibility and easy-to-use configuration layer

  • Hosting options of private and public cloud platforms

  • Scalable solution that meets high demand and throughput

  • Better integration with other banking systems

  • Better reporting and data analysis

  • Data protection and privacy of personally identifiable information (PII)

  • Operational resilience to minimize production incidents

Priorities of the three initiatives and recommendations

Delivering on the revolutionary potential of the cloud core banking technology

#1: Focus on narrow niches, such as shariah compliance banking products, and leverage our platform flexibility

#2: Build an open-source integration library with other banking systems as augmented products

#3: Friction audit and make the product easier to install. Offer a SaaS solution with no installation effort required.

Any questions about the proposal? Please get in touch with me on Linkedin: https://linkedin.com/in/victorleungtw.


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Experience in software development, application architecture, and deploying cloud solutions for enterprise customers. Strong hands-on skills with a Master's degree in Computer Science and business acumen with a master of business administration (MBA) in Finance. Certified in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure, Kubernetes (CKA, CKAD, CKS, KCNA) and Scrum (PSM, PSPO) with experience in building banking products from scratch. Connect on Linkedin

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