Hobbyists want tools. Businesses want solutions.
Hobbyists love tools because they find value in the experience of using them. Think of a carpenter who appreciates the feel of a perfectly balanced hammer or sharpened saw as he creates his bird house.
Businesses on the other hand don’t give a shit about tools. They want problems solved. Example: How do I upsell loyal customers and win back customers who have switched to a competitor?
Here are clues to tell if you’ve created a tool or a technology solution.
Clue #1: The product only delivers great results for expert users.
If your product requires business users to be subject matter experts in things outside their core job you’ve invented a tool. A tool might expect an accountant to know a bit about marketing, A:B testing, social media, copywriting, design etc. The achilles heel of a tool is that it is only good in the hands of a skilled person. I have a dozen poorly executed DIY projects at home to prove it.
Clue #2: Almost no configuration.
The hallmark sign of a technology solution is that it delivers business value consistently with little or no human intervention. Minimizing configuration minimizes errors introduced by inexperienced users and lets the technology function according to the design of its creators… presumably subject matter experts.
Clue #3: Wizards.
Businesses usually do not know how to solve their problems but they always know how to describe them. A technology solution lets users describe their problem to a wizard or wizard-like interface using terms that they understand. That’s it. The technology takes it from there and solves the problem. On the other hand, a tool requires users to know how to solve the problem and teach the tool how to solve it.
Stop building tools. Start building technology solutions.
… unless your target customer is a hobbyist.