What is a Proof of Concept and how does it build Digital Innovation?

What is a Proof of Concept and how does it build Digital Innovation?

Success stories start with good ideas, and good ideas are followed by a Proof of Concept.
See how a PoC can facilitate the path to digital innovation.

Digital innovation relies heavily on emerging digital technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data, 5G or machine learning. Because of that, it is actively changing the core of traditional IT. Technology and digital innovation are no longer viewed as catalysts for efficiency but as intrinsic elements of any business model. Just have a look at the top app development trends for 2021 and beyond.

Companies are realising that customer loyalty is no longer the (only) way to success. Customer needs are constantly evolving and there is added pressure to respond to the demands. And, with the need for growth and development—transformation, if you will—comes the need for digital innovation.

But evidently, digital innovation represents risks and challenges for any business. So, how can you kick-start digital innovation within your business in a way that minimises risk and creates a solid foundation for a successful project? Having had dozens of similar cases, we can confidently say the best approach will, at some point, involve building a proof of concept.

What is a proof of concept?

A proof of concept is a way of assessing the viability of a certain product for a specific business need. In other words, a proof of concept tries to validate whether an idea will work for a certain application. Although now used in most business contexts, “proof of concept” applies mostly to digital environments and comprises the basic framework of a software solution.

It differs from a prototype or a pilot, as the former is normally a test of how to deliver a product, and the latter has a much wider scope than a proof of concept.

Proof of Concept / Near Partner

A proof of concept is the skeleton of an idea, much like a draft. It helps decision-making regarding whether to move forward to the pilot, prototype or even beta version. It isn’t meant to leave the backstage yet, nor to be tested by customers, but rather as a tool for the company to understand if changes need to be made or if something needs to be adjusted. Finally, a proof of concept can tell if and how a good idea can make it to application.

For example, let’s say a business that sells electric vehicles came up with a longer range, higher priced model. For the managing team to know the viability of the new product, they can launch a survey asking their customers if the new car they came up with sounds great and if they’re willing to try and buy one, or if it is just too expensive and beyond their reach. They may even draft a few sketches and put together a short video on the flashy new car. This important source of customer feedback would then help steer the development team towards product acceptance.

As a tool, PoC is widely used to improve the consumer journey, among other aspects of the business.

The advantages of a proof of concept for businesses

Developing a proof of concept is a frequently overlooked step in developing a business idea. However, it is also extremely useful for companies and their process of digital innovation.

A proof of concept brings many advantages to the table at an early stage of development:

1. Risk mitigation

A proof of concept is a sneak-peek into the future. It tells a company if the project at hand is workable (for example, technology-wise), helps identify real-life limitations, identify gaps and loopholes, and decrease the risk associated with going full steam ahead towards a prototype.

2. Resource management

At the initial stages of digital innovation, a proof of concept is an excellent tool to help businesses understand if there are enough resources to build an MVP. It is also a way to ensure that company resources and funds are not being wasted with a doomed, or below-average, idea.

proof of concept and digital innovation

3. Investor onboarding

Investors need as solid evidence as possible before they get onboard with funding. Especially in cases of digital innovation, gaining allies is a stressful task. A proof of concept can help companies demonstrate expected ROI, elaborate a thought-through business plan and strategy, and also select the best software to move forward with.

4. Upper management

Even inside the business, a proof of concept for a digital innovation process is useful for stakeholders, heads of digital marketing, CFOs, and finance directors. When project managers propose a new idea, it is common for the upper management to have expectations of scalability, and if so, whether it is immediate. With a proof of concept in place, it is easier to manage expectations across the company.

5. Quicker decision-making

A proof of concept, as opposed to a prototype or pilot, has the important advantages of being quicker to create and less costly. In theory, it could be developed in a matter of hours or days, not weeks or months. This allows for important, time-consuming decisions to be made still in the proposal stage, and the rest of the journey towards digital innovation becomes smoother.


3 golden rules for a flawless Proof of Concept development

And while a proof of concept is a rapid outline of a certain project, some effort does go into it. These are the 3 main rules to keep in mind while striving for impeccable digital innovation:

  1. Agile is the way. The Agile method is your friend if you want to do things fast, efficiently and with consistent results. Agile prioritises software that works and allows for fast changes, instead of a fixed, immutable plan. Just like a proof of concept, paving the way for digital innovation.
  2. Low code is the foundation. It is difficult to separate Agile and low code development. And in the case of building a proof of concept, you shouldn’t. It is possible to create an entire software on low code, but you can also create the skeleton of an app very quickly. Low code also makes it much easier to implement changes and to test software. And the best part? If you start with a low-code-based proof of concept, you can easily move on to prototyping, to MVP, and all the way to launching a successful, customized, working software. Just get in touch with our team to find out how.
  3. The right resources. Although a proof of concept is the barebone of a project, a simple idea has a long way to go before it reaches that stage. It is important to find the right resources along with the tools, from the very early, concept, stages. In some cases, that might mean relying on a trusted external partner to beef up your internal team.


Choosing the right Partner in Digital Innovation: from PoC to success

Do you need help or guidance in building a solid proof of concept for your business? Or simply put the development in expert and experienced hands instead? At Near Partner we can help you in both scenarios. We have extensive experience with customers in various businesses. Check our success stories.

Not even sure where to start? No problem. With our OutSystems, Salesforce and Software Dev services, our team of developers will be happy to brainstorm ideas, point you in the right direction technology-wise, and explore a proof of concept that works for your business and market.

Quoting Elon Musk, good ideas are always crazy until they’re not, and we are eager to make your crazy idea become a success. Get in touch!

Patrícia Peixinho

Marketing & communication lover. Curious, imaginative, ingenious. Hungry for challenges and enthusiastic about life!