POC vs Prototype vs Pilot

Unfortunately “Proof of Concept” (POC), “Prototype”, and “Pilot” are used interchangeably, though I think they mean different things and serve very different functions.

Successful projects should implement all of these consciously/deliberately. There should be a process around how we apply them, how we collect results from them and how we apply the results in the decisions we make.


Proof of Concept (PoC)

A Proof of Concept (POC) is a small exercise to test a discrete design idea or assumption.

For example, If we have two systems which need to communicate with each other through a developer might develop a simple “Hello World” type application to test if this communication works.  The focus is not performance, scalability or fault tolerance.

in PoC just test the viability of an idea!


A Prototype is a more fleshed out system that tries to simulate the full system.  Prototypes are used to test the viability or usefulness of a system or subsystem. The idea is to provide an experience to the end user to be able to visualize the experience of using the complete system

Depending on what you are testing, you will have prototypes with different level of capabilities.

Key point about building prototypes is that if you have spent time and money building it then you got to use it.  Take it to customers, take their feedback, incorporate it!


Pilot, is often a full production system with a goal to see how the product will be used by users and to refine the product before a broad market push. Pilot should be all about Metrics Metris Metrics!!!

Before starting a pilot, you should know why you are doing it, what do you want to measure, how will you measure it, how will you collect the data.  A good product manager should have a plan to incorporate enhancement ideas based on the data coming back from the pilot.

POCs, Prototypes, and Pilots are all important part of implementing a good product. With the right process and clear goals a good product manager should incorporate POCs, Prototypes, and Pilots in their product roadmaps.

Patent Granted – A Method and System for Click-Thru Capacity in Electronic Media

Better Late Than Never!!!

Patent Target: Content Systems and products (Data transparency and auditability for content – from raw data collection to customer desktop delivery)

Executive Summary: Data (numbers) customers often see on our products have gone through significant amount of calculations. Complex calculation using data taken from different documents are required to come up with the correct results. Using this patent customer can click on a number on our product and see the formula with actual values used – if the number used in the formula was also derived through a calculation they customer can that formula as well (recursively), until customer gets to the raw data. (The raw data could be a set of numbers from multiple 1,000+ page documents like annual report, research report, court filing etc.)

Technology Implementation Summary: Standardized a way for content systems to represent complex proprietary formulas by extending MathML and integrating it in the content and product delivery systems.


Radical and Incremental Innovation

Yes, Old topics die hard! I was re-reading about some old articles about types of innovations, and measuring effectiveness of different project investments and thought of posting this to wider community to get some help & feedback.

Radical / Disruptive Innovation Incremental / Sustaining Innovation
Provides entirely new set of usage features and experience, and/or provides significantly better performance and/or significantly reduces cost Relates to enhancements or small improvements in the existing products or services
Example:  Zipcar car sharing service Example:  Avis car rental preferred members can skip lines and go straight to a car
Radical change can significantly change the basis of competition in the favor of the innovator Incremental innovation can be small cost cutting or adding content or feature improvements in existing products or services


The diagram shows the cycle of the Radical and Incremental Innovations.

Incremental innovation is most common form of innovation in most companies, the reason it’s so popular is because it has reduced risk and faster time to market in comparison to radical innovation. I think, once a company has an established product it usually has built up considerable amounts of human capital and competencies so it continues to devote time to making it better or reducing costs. Which in turn opens doors for new competitors/innovators.

  • How do you protect your firm/product from new competition?
  • As we are doing 2016/17 planning what split are you seeing in investments in the two innovation types?
  • Do you have process to track and measure ROI from Radical and Incremental innovation investments?

Lastly if you don’t mind can you share an example of a radical innovation in your group/company.

Winner of Innovation Challenge 2011 – NYSE Closing Bell Ringing!

The four-person team from Wharton was selected by Syngenta as the winning team because of their original ideas, realistic implementation and projected business impact.

“We saw a lot of impressive ideas from the teams who worked on our challenge,” says Alex Prohodski, Business Development, Syngenta North America. “It was tough to choose a winner, but the Wharton team deserved the prize. Meeting them in person and hearing even more of their ideas while we were in New York together confirmed that even more.”

Hard to describe the experience in words!