About the project

We have collaborated with İşbank, giving extensive coverage to agricultural banking among the innovative products offered since 1924 as Republic of Turkey's first national bank, to validate a few ideas that had not yet turned into products. Our goal was to both understand the problems these product ideas provide solutions for and validate these problems and the solutions for the target audience. ImeceMobil is the embodiment of just one of these product ideas, which we validated with the Idea Validation Framework, a homegrown product of SHERPA.

ImeceMobil, quickly adopted and received good comments thanks to its emergence from an idea validation process based on user research, is also awarded to Silver Sardis in the Product and Service Innovation/Banks category of the Sardis Awards 2020, which focuses on the most innovative projects and outstanding marketing achievements of financial sector players.

Problem

Problem

We identified five problems to validate by deciphering the product idea on a lean canvas at the beginning of the idea validation project, with the goal of employing mobile technology in the aid of farmers with İşbank's vision of digitalization in agriculture.

  1. Difficulty accessing financial products and services
  2. Difficulty accessing the branch for banking transactions
  3. Difficulty in accessing accurate and up-to-date data, information and experience on farming
  4. Difficulties in financial planning for farming
  5. Difficulty accessing accurate information on agricultural legislation

Thus, if we find that the problems identified by the project team are valid for the users, we imagined that the proposed solution would effectively support farmers in process planning and obtaining accurate information (i.e. agricultural legislation, grants and support, etc.) in addition to financing agricultural activities.

Our approach

Agriculture, the most critical factor of global socio-economic change, is one of the sectors most affected by climate change and demographic developments. Almost all of the five global risks that seriously threaten the future of the earth, stated in the 2018 Global Risks Report published at the World Economic Forum just two years ago, are directly related to agriculture and food security issues. Business Council for Sustainable Development Turkey (BCSD Turkey) interprets highlighted findings on global risk reports published in recent years as a clear signal that nature has no (more) strength to withstand traditional farming activities and they call on the private sector in Turkey to take immediate action.

İşbank had a product idea that blended innovative technologies to solve a problem on a global scale by providing digital access to the right information and financial products that farmers need. As SHERPA, with the Idea Validation Framework approach we offered to the project owner, we have been a catalyst in deciphering, defining and developing a hypothesis from business goals to user needs, from the target audience to the product's feature set and measurement criteria. We assumed the role of a facilitator during the decision-making and then the production phases in the innovation process of a well-established organization.

Process

We collaborated with the İşbank team to determine our main strategy in the first step of the project. After having defined the main benefits and features of the new product idea, the problems it aims to solve and the target audience on a lean canvas, we picked the most appropriate methods via SHERPA’s methodology table for problem and idea validation. Once we agreed on the main strategy, we started the validation process.

İmece uygulama akışı İmece uygulama akışı

In the contextual interviews we conducted, we determined that the problems the new product idea focuses on are concrete in the lives of the users, and then we rationalized the prevalence of the same problems through face-to-face and online surveys.

In order to verify whether the solutions provided by the new product idea corresponds to farmers' needs, we carried out a fake-doors emailing campaign with a much wider user pool matching our target audience. When we evaluated the results according to the criteria we defined in the context of the Idea Validation Framework, it was obvious to all of us that the new product idea aroused high interest in the target audience.

The result obtained from the idea validation project sparked excitement for all parties involved. We rolled up our sleeves right away to design the experience of the new product. In collaboration with the project owner, we first clarified the feature set for the initial version of the product. Then we drew user flows and designed the navigation. Finally, we created the content map and designed the interaction first, then the user interface, and we transferred the project to İşbank with the satisfaction of being a stakeholder of a user-centered digital product that improves the lives of farmers.

Our services

DISCOVERY & NEEDS ANALYSIS
  • Production and Resource Planning
  • Project Scope Documentation
  • Requirements Analysis
  • Target Audience Analysis
IDEA VALIDATION
  • Lean Canvas Creation
  • Contextual Interviews
  • Face-to-Face and Online Polls
  • Fake-Doors Emailing
CONTENT STRATEGY & INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE
  • Feature Set Definition
  • User Flow Creation
  • Navigation Design
  • Content Map Creation
USER EXPERIENCE
STRATEGY & DESIGN
  • Lo-Fidelity Wireframe Design
  • Interaction Scenarios
  • User Interface Design

Problem validation:
mapping the new product idea to the accurate problems

What if the problem addressed by a solution that you think is a very good idea doesn’t exist in real life? All material and moral investment you make in this solution carries a high risk. Here, joining forces with İşbank, the basic approach we agreed on was not to work towards a solution without having validated the problem.

In the problem validation phase of our project, we conducted contextual interviews with farmers all around Turkey, in accordance with the target audience defined on the lean canvas. After that, we tested the prevalence of the problems we validated in the interviews via a face-to-face survey attended by farmers who visited agricultural fairs held in Izmir and Aydın, in February 2018.

When we analyzed the answers of the participants to whom we asked questions in the context of the nature and scale of their agricultural production activities, their use of smartphones and the internet, the channels they use to obtain information about the production activity, and the problems encountered in agricultural activities; we confirmed that three of the five problems on which the product idea focuses are valid for our target audience.

  • Difficulty accessing financial products and services
  • Difficulty accessing the branch for banking transactions
  • Difficulty in accessing accurate and up-to-date data, information and experience on farming
  • Difficulties in financial planning for farming
  • Difficulty accessing accurate information on agricultural legislation

Solution validation:
evaluating users’ interest in the new product idea

How do you evaluate interest in a product that is not yet available? By "pretending".

In the idea validation phase of our project, we carried out a fake-doors emailing campaign targeting a much wider user pool matching our target audience. We explained the details of the product idea to the users without disclosing information that should be kept confidential, and we measured the users' interest in the product in two levels: the click-through rate of opened emails and the rate of email address entry/survey view through the form.

As a result, although the email opening rate reaching 17.1% was close to the lower limit of the standard value range, the click-through rate found a response well above the standards with 7.2%. When we evaluated the result of the fake doors emailing based on the number of emails opened, we picked out that 42% of those who viewed the email content where the product idea was announced took action to get more information about the product. This ratio was a good indicator that farmers needed an innovative solution in this area.

Consequently, we had confirmed through user data that the new product idea, which aims to provide farmers digital access to reliable information and applicable financial products, has a high value creation potential.

Designing the user experience of a validated product idea

After completing the validation process of ImeceMobil, we clarified the feature set of the first version of the product quickly and without experiencing any friction, and designed the user flows, navigation, interactions and finally the user interface and then delivered the work to the project owner.

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Designing the experience of a product addressing validated problems feels like a privilege by itself. Utilizing a decision-making framework has enabled all stakeholders to share common ground when making foundational design decisions and this alignment has resulted in a satisfying product for its end users, both delivering real value and embodying İşbank’s vision of technology-assisted agriculture.

Today, ImeceMobil is in the life of users to provide regional solutions against the biggest global risks with features such as agricultural weather forecasts and suggestions for the production activities, “Consult an Expert” (vets and agricultural engineers), market information, region and product-specific campaigns, Imece Card transactions, news and announcements, self-service application to financial products, information provided by Turkey Products and Specialized Exchange, notification of a claim for product and greenhouse damages, fertilizer recommendations, bidding marketplace, and income-expense calculation, as well as the special features directed at the fields of Beekeeping, Aquaculture, Sericulture, Medicinal and Aromatic Plants and Ornamental Plants.

Caner Önder
Caner Önder

Specialist at İşbank Commercial Banking Marketing Division

Today, agriculture is strengthening its place among implementation areas of new generation technologies. As İşbank, one of the core elements of our strategy is to bring agricultural banking up-to-date with the requirements of the new era and make it a field where technology and innovation are prioritized. In this context, together with our technology subsidiary Softtech, we have developed ImeceMobil, a mobile app for the use of all farmers. One of the most difficult issues in the ideation stage of the product was to understand the perceived value of the services we will offer on the user side and determine how we will package these services for the use of our target audience.

Thanks to the idea validation framework and comprehensible methods provided by SHERPA, we completed the validation process with minimum friction. By courtesy of the positive contribution of SHERPA team to the process and the level of ownership they demonstrated, we have achieved our goal much faster than expected for a big corporation like us and created ImeceMobil, a mobile app rewarded by its user base with fast adoption and a high rate of retention since its release.

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