Addressing a Problem, Not Pushing Technology

“How can we use the Apple Watch?”

“How can we leverage NFC?”

“Let’s do something with Apple Health!”

These are questions or comments that I hear from clients, friends, prospective clients, etc. All of these individuals want to start with a particular technology and find the solution it solves. This is the proverbial “square peg into a round hole.”

Define the Problem and the Technology Will Follow

At 3Pillar, we try to look at the problem you want to solve first before doing anything else. What is your pain point? What are your customers’ pain points? The problem identified will help lead us to the right technology solution. It might be what we have been thinking all along or it might be something completely different.

When NFC first came about, the industry wanted to push it down the consumer’s throat. How can we get NFC to stick? Samsung’s attempt was to show two Samsung devices could share pictures by tapping phones, or that you could connect wirelessly to a speaker by placing a phone on top of the speaker. The reason why it didn’t take off was because those solutions Samsung came up with were never real problems for consumers.

Want to send a photo? In all but the rarest of circumstances, texting or emailing it to you is more convenient than “bumping” phones with you. Or you could check it out on my Instagram or Facebook account. You want to connect wirelessly to a speaker? Try using Bluetooth and you’ll still have the freedom of being able to have the phone in your pocket – or your hand – rather than sitting on top of a speaker.

Real-World Examples

Another example of putting the problem before the solution is Google Now. Their problem was inaccurate dictation. The problem Google realized was users becoming frustrated with the voice dictation accuracy when users interacted with their devices via voice.

Stories like the fictional one below happened all too often:

User: “Okay Google. Call Bob.”

Google Now: “Okay. Calling Mom.”

User: “NO! Cancel. Abort. Stop. Oh, hey Mom! Sorry its been awhile. How’s Dad?”

To combat this, Google came out with Google 411. Why? To help everyone find the number to their local pizza delivery?

Google realized that they needed N number of times of different accents, male/female, pitches, etc. to say “Bob” versus “Mom” so that Google Now will be able to decipher which was intended.


All too often we see the big lights. We see the end game and not how to get there. I’m sure when Apple thought about mobile payment, they did not say, “We need to use NFC.” It would be safe to assume that they looked at various data transmitting technologies from beacons, to Bluetooth, to NFC, and beyond.

3Pillar constantly pushes our clients and prospective clients to think about the root cause. The main pain point. The problem. Once we can identify the problem, we can only then begin to think about the solution.

Brian Oh

Brian Oh

Product Manager

Brian Oh is a Product Manager at 3Pillar Global. He has successfully launched several products ranging from large scale SaaS products to quick turnaround iOS and Android applications. Prior to joining 3Pillar Global, Brian was heavily involved in the Federal Government sector with Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC, CGI Federal, and Ernst & Young for the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Administrative Offices of the US Courts, and Veteran Affairs, respectively.

Leave a Reply

Related Posts

Designing the Future & the Future of Work – The I... Martin Wezowski, Chief Designer and Futurist at SAP, shares his thoughts on designing the future and the future of work on this episode of The Innovat...
The 4 Characteristics of a Healthy Digital Product Team Several weeks ago, I found myself engaged in two separate, yet eerily similar, conversations with CEOs struggling to gain the confidence they needed t...
Recapping Fortune Brainstorm Tech – The Innovation Eng... On this episode of The Innovation Engine, David DeWolf and Jonathan Rivers join us to share an overview of all the news that was fit to print at this ...
4 Reasons Everyone is Wrong About Blockchain: Your Guide to ... You know a technology has officially jumped the shark when iced tea companies decide they want in on the action. In case you missed that one, Long Isl...
The Connection Between Innovation & Story On this episode of The Innovation Engine, we'll be looking at the connection between story and innovation. Among the topics we'll cover are why story ...