(Part One- Continues Next Week)

Where do really good ideas for new data products come from? Not surprisingly, I am asked this question a lot. Perhaps surprisingly, the answer isn’t all that complicated.

The best ideas for new data products almost invariably come from personal need. History shows that the data products that succeed most readily tend to be highly specialized in terms of content and user base – and they were typically surfaced by people who would use such a data product themselves, if someone else produced it. The person who sees the opportunities knows just how useful and valuable the new product would be, that nothing else like it currently exists in the market, and that there are many other people in similar roles in other companies who would benefit from it. Right there, you have all the ingredients for a winning data product, and I have seen dozens of them over the years, in almost every case started by someone with no data publishing experience, but who did have a deep understanding of the need for the data. As just one example, a recent news article talks about a professor, frustrated by the lack of information on sustainable building products manufacturers, decided to compile his own directory. Despite being published as a print directory, it’s already in its second edition – the need was out there for this information.

Why did a professor of architectural technology and building science decide to become a publisher? Likely because he didn’t feel he had any options. And that’s not surprising. For despite the intense interest of B2B media companies in new data products, not one that I know tries to reach out to its audience for new product ideas. That’s a shame, because in my experience it’s mid-level executives buried deep in large organizations who are the best source of these new opportunities. All you have to do is ask.