Elsevier\nAs CTO of Elsevier, a global information solutions company, Dan Olley is responsible for the traditional IT functions of infrastructure and business automation. However, that only represents about 30 percent of what his technology organization does. The rest is focused on software product development. \u201cWith an ever increasing percentage of Elsevier\u2019s revenue coming from online products, we have had to reinvent ourselves to compete with the world\u2019s best product technology companies,\u201d Olley says.\nHow does an IT organization that finds itself responsible for product innovation reinvent itself to become a world class technology division? That\u2019s what I asked Olley when we last spoke. As the output of our conversation, I am proud to present six easy steps to product innovation.\nStep 1: Know the problem and how you\u2019ll measure success: \u00a0\u201cIt\u2019s amazing how many times people say, \u2018We\u2019re going to build this great new solution,\u2019 but when you ask them what problem they\u2019re trying to solve and for whom, they are not always quite so clear,\u201d says Olley. Defining a product or feature by the problem it\u2019s going to solve for a defined group is the key. \u201cWe bring customers, and potential customers, into our ideation lab and test ideas with them before we build anything.\u00a0 We work with them to define the real life problems they\u2019re experiencing and how we can help them solve them. When we truly understanding what success looks like for our current and potential customers before we start, we can build products that deliver tangible value. This is something you can\u2019t do in a vacuum; you have to get your customers involved.\u201d\nStep 2: Talk to non-customers:\u00a0 When organizations are expanding, extending or upgrading existing products, they always talk to existing customers, but this is not enough, says Olley. \u201cMany of our online products started life as new incarnations of more traditional offline products. Existing customers tend to tell you how you can improve what you currently do. This is important, but innovation often comes when you ask the people who should be customers, who have the problem you are setting out to solve, why they aren\u2019t customers today. Existing customers give you enhancements; non-customers provide you with whole new areas of functionality.\u201d\nStep 3: Prototype with your existing and potential users:\u00a0\u00a0 Once you can articulate the problem and how you\u2019ll measure success, \u201cBuild early, build quick and play it back,\u201d says Olley.\u00a0 \u201cWe do lightweight wire-framing long before we start full scale development.\u00a0 We need to know if we have it right before we get started.\u201d\nStep 4: Go live with a minimum viable product:\u00a0 \u201cYour first version should be a minimum viable product, the least functional version that you can deliver while still solving the problem,\u201d says Olley. \u201cYour users will tell you very quickly what\u2019s wrong with the solution and what else you need. If you build something bigger than a minimal viable product, you could be adding functionality that your users don\u2019t need.\u201d\nStep 5: Deliver through small multi-disciplined teams: \u201cThrowing projects from one group to another will not cut it when you are innovating with revenue generating products, says Olley.\u00a0 Olley co-locates developers, UX experts, architects, and selected customers into a small team with a common understanding of the problem, the vision, and the commitment to deliver as one unit.\u00a0\nStep 6: Do some reconnaissance: \u00a0Olley has an advanced technology team that is out in front of the product development groups, evaluating new technologies well before the development team is ready to apply them to a new product. \u201cWe are breaking in new technologies before we need them,\u201d Olley says. \u201cWhen our product groups are prototyping a solution, we have already evaluated, in a general sense, the set of technologies they will use.\u201d\nSo there you have it!\u00a0 Six easy steps to product innovation. Follow them faithfully and you too can become a world class innovator!\n\u00a0\nAbout Dan Olley\nDan Olley is the Chief Technology Officer for Elsevier. He joined the RELX Group (Formerly Reed Elsevier) in 2004 as Technology Director for RBI UK, heading up online product development, and has held successive positons since then. A leading champion of agile development and cloud based technologies and solutions, Dan led the early adoption of many such technologies, which paid off, providing technical flexibility and agility for rapid transformation. As part of the executive teams within RBI and now Elsevier, Dan continues to drive organic online product growth across the portfolio. Prior to RELX Group, Dan held technology and product development leadership roles with GM Financial, Wunderman Cato Johnson, and IBM, as well as a number of UK and international software organizations.\u00a0\nAbout Elsevier \nElsevier \u2013 is a world-leading provider of information solutions for science, health and technology professionals, allowing them to quickly find the answers they seek. Elsevier accomplishes this by partnering with experts around the globe to develop world-class content, and delivering it in ways that fuel discovery, drive innovation and improve health care. The company is headquartered in Amsterdam, and employs more than 7,000 people across 24 countries.