Prior to my current role, I spent 25 years working in the federal contracting space. Almost all technology built in that world is one-off and designed for the specific needs of a customer. Often, those needs are complex and meeting them involves creating new technology. “Productizing” a solution is common trope around the Beltway among integrators of all sizes. Most of the time, attempts to do this never get past the whiteboard stage and those that do invariably fail to become anything the wider technology market would recognize as a product.
In my current role, I happen to work for a company that actually succeeded in turning a solution it built to support its original services-based business into a thriving software-as-a-service (SaaS) product. While this represents an anecdotal and statistically-insignificant sample of one, it has helped me understand the differences between successful products and those solutions that never quite get there. I also happen to manage the portfolio of SaaS platforms my company uses for its own operations, so I’ve had a good chance to observe commonalities among many products and contrast them with the solutions in the previous phase of my career.