Welcome to the Tech for Non-Techies podcast

87. How to commercialise innovation

Success in tech consists of two parts: making great products and using them to build a business. No matter how brilliant an app or algorithm is, if people do not want to pay for it, it is unlikely to live for long.

This is why all tech innovators need to learn the core skills of commercialising innovation.

Listen to this episode to learn how Salesforce, Starbucks and Xero commercialise their tech products, and so you can apply their lessons too.

The top 3 questions you need to answer to ensure your tech product has business success are:

  1. How will this product help people make more money?
  2. How will this product improve customer experience?
  3. How will this product improve efficiency?

Always focus on the benefits that the product will bring customers, not its features.

Tell Sophia what you’re working on and submit your questions to her on [email protected]

Or reach her on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

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86. What is coding? The quick guide for non-coders

The terms coding and programming are ubiquitous, yet many non-technical professionals do not know what they mean in practice. Why are there different coding languages? What do developers actually do?

This is what you'll learn in this episode.

Learning notes:

  • Data is information that you can use to do something with. For example, your shopping list is information that you use to remember what food to buy when you go to the supermarket.
  • Technology is what you use to create, store or communicate that data. In our shopping list example, it could be pen and paper, or the notes app on your phone. 
  • In order to make software, you have to tell a computer what to do. You do this via a programming language. All digital technologies are created by using specific coding languages to turn data into useful outcomes.
  • Python Java, C++ and Ruby are the most popular languages  today. But, there are 256 coding languages in use today.
  • Binary code, also known as ...
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85. "Don't be afraid of the tech," lessons from a non-technical founder

Nasi Rwigema doesn't have a background in software, but that didn't stop him from building his tech platform: Umwuga, a social network for blue collar workers in South Africa. To his surprise, he found that figuring out what people want is much harder than learning about tech.

Nasi is one of Sophia's students from London Business School. He took her course three years ago, and used his knowledge, network and resilience to build his platform.

If you have an idea for a tech venture, as a founder or a corporate innovator, or you want to invest in tech businesses, but don't have a tech background, this episode is for you.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • "Don't be afraid of the tech and don't let not having a tech person hold you back," says Nasi. "Instead, focus on the customer and the problem you are solving."
  • Show traction from the start. This doesn't necessarily mean revenue or explosive user growth. It means doing whatever you can to solve the problem for the customer.
  • ...
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84. What UX designers do and how to work with them

”Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it's this veneer — that the designers are told, 'Make it look good! ' That's not what design is. It's not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works,” - Steve Jobs 

In this episode, you''ll hear from Sarah Doody, a UX designer who has worked for the likes of Vice Media and Dow Jones. Today Sarah runs Career Strategy Lab, a school for UX designers. 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • "User experience design is how you interact with a product, whether it's digital, physical or a mix of both," Sarah Doody.
  • When hiring a UX designer, think about the outcome that you want, rather than the process. E.g. Do you want a prototype to test an idea? Then you don't need the same level of attention to graphics as you would for a design you would give to developers. 
  • If you want to transition into a career in UX design, your experience in another...
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83. How tech companies bring new ideas to life

If you have an idea for a new product in a traditional business, you will probably have to work on an extensive plan before you do anything else.

This is not how it works in tech companies. When the likes of Airbnb and Slack bring new apps or features to market, they use the Sprint Method. It is a methodology developed by Google Ventures to bring new ideas to life and test them quickly and cheaply.

Learn how this works in this podcast.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The aim of a sprint is to test an idea for a new product to find out whether it is worth investing more money in. For example, you can use a sprint to test an idea for an app by creating a prototype. If users like what you’ve made, only then should you hire developers.
  • Each sprint should focus on one idea to test. Do not try to test multiple ideas in one sprint.
  • To figure out where the biggest risks in a new idea lie, ask yourself: if this time in a year, this project failed, why would it have done so?
  • A sprint...
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82. Intro to agile for non-techies

Agile is now a ubiquitous management term, but few people understand what it means in practice.

For some products, agile is THE BEST system, for others, it is THE WORST.

Listen to this week’s episode to find out what it is, how it works in practice, when to use it and when to avoid it.

You’ll hear how WhatsApp used this methodology to release its first product, and learn how to use it yourself.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • There are two methodologies to make things: waterfall and agile.
  • Waterfall came from manufacturing and construction and emphasises planning in order to release a perfect product. For example, if you’re building a house, you need to plan ahead and only let people move in to live in it when it is complete.
  • Agile methodology is an iterative process, used by software developers. Simple changes get released frequently, in response to user needs or technological changes. The product is by definition never complete, because it is always changing.
  • ...
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81. Technology is just another business tool. Don’t put it on a pedestal.

It’s easy to put the tech sector on a pedestal, as we’re constantly bombarded with its power and profits. But “technology is just a tool to affect business outcomes,” says prop tech entrepreneur Sebastian Rivas.

Sebastian runs Andes STR, a which uses machine learning algorithms to find property investments for short term rentals. If you want to invest in a property and rent it out on Airbnb, Andes STR will find the investment and manage the rental.

Sebastian started his career in finance, and created a smart plan to break into tech. Listen to this episode to learn how he did it.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Technology is a tool used in business to improve efficiency, user experience and productivity, but it is not an end in itself.
  • Being tech savvy and understanding how technology influences business outcomes is a must have in today’s working environment, almost no matter where you work. Even your coffee shop has an app!
  • “The biggest...
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80. Why 2022 brings even MORE opportunity to non-techies in tech

The tech sector is massive and is set to get even bigger in 2022. As it matures, the number of non-technical roles increases.

Listen to this episode to prepare for the non-techie jobs boom.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • According to research by Glassdoor, 54% of all jobs in tech companies are for non-technical roles.
  • As the tech sector matures, it becomes more open to non-techies. When a tech start-up grows into a business, it needs the human infrastructure of a business: marketing departments, legal expertise, procurement help and so on.
  • Peloton is a great example of a tech company, whose non-technical component makes it truly special. The bikes and treadmills are great, but the instructors, the community aspect and the branding is what makes consumers buy and love the products.

To learn the core concepts you need to succeed in tech as a non-techie, sign up for:

FREE TRAINING: How To Speak Tech For Leaders   

Live training and Q&A on 26 & 27...

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79. Why human insight will drive success in tech in 2022

No code apps and outsourced product studios mean that there is more opportunity than ever for non-technical founders and traditional businesses to get into tech and succeed.

But, as more companies enter the market, they’ll be competing for a finite resource: our attention.

Listen to this episode how to make the most of this opportunity and avoid costly mistakes.

Learning notes:

  • The prevalence of No Code apps and outsourced product studios is driving down the cost of building apps, sites and algorithms.
  • As more tech products enter the market, marketing costs will increase. This means a boon for Facebook and Google, and also for professionals who know how to attract and engage new users.
  • Jobs that will benefit from this boom include User Experience designers, who know how to make habit forming products, Community Managers and Strategic Partnerships experts. None of these roles require coding, but they all require an understanding of how tech products get built and who does what...
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78. How to review your year with UX Designer Sang Valte

career strategy ux design Dec 21, 2021

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action” - Peter Drucker. 

As 2021 comes to a close, it's useful to reflect on what worked, what didn't and how your industry evolved

In this episode, you'll hear from Sang Valte, Senior UX Director at international design agency Jellyfish, and Design Standards Board Member at General Assembly, about how he reviews his year and how the UX changed in 2021.

Questions to ask yourself for your end of year review:

  • What have you gained in your health & wealth? Where have you lost? Sang thinks of wealth in relationships, friendships and knowledge, and health in terms of financial health, mental health and physical health.
  • What have you done to further your skills in your career this year? Good UX designers must work to remove bias from their thinking to truly understand the users they make products for, says Sang. To sharpen critical...
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