DEFINITION OF PROOF OF CONCEPT.
You may have wondered what proof of concept (POC) is if you have seen investors mention their worries to entrepreneurs pitching for investment for their products or services not having proof of concept; especially for emerging markets. So the question is what is proof of concept?
Proof of concept is simply a testimonial that an idea, product or services can work. An idea can be said to have a proof of concept when it has been tested and confirmed to have a practical potential.
Proof of concept, also known as proof of principle provides validation for product viability, and presents the opportunity for improvement at the same time. Proof of concept could include product acceptability, marketability, pricing and financial viability. It provides for clarity and opens up for exploration of ideas for a better development and marketing of a product.
Though proof of concept has some semblance with prototype, it’s important to note that it doesn’t mean that in many fields. In most cases, POC precedes prototype. POC confirms that a concept has potential while prototype is the trial version; a model or an early sample of a product. This being said, proof of concept could mean prototype in software development where demonstration is required.
EXAMPLES OF PROOF OF CONCEPT
POC has different approach and could mean different things across different business fields, and we are only going to be looking at that briefly.
- In business development, proof of concept allows for potential customer(s) to try a product to offer opinions and suggestions that will help the business owner to improve on the product. The opinions and suggestions will also present in clear terms financial viability, helping him to make the right budget. What proof of concept mostly achieves in business development is to ensure that the business owner(s) has full clarity on the potential of his product and possible ways of improvement. It defines the road map. A typical example is a barbecue seller who gives his potential customers meat to try for free to hear what they have to say to define the way forward.
- In filmmaking, trying out a new idea in the shooting of films. Introduction of new backgrounds or technologies that has never been tested or proven before is an example of a typical proof of concept.
- In digital security, an act that shows the vulnerability of a system and how it can be protected without developing a complete working program for this purpose.
- In software development, the series of processes engaged to provide solution to address technical problems by providing efficient software is part of proof of concept. This could be a configuration to show that a particular technology can achieve a certain purpose or the development of a software that integrates devices for optimum function. The peculiarity of proof of concept in technology or software development is that it is practical and demonstrative. In order words, a prototype is needed especially to pitch to investors.
- In healthcare, proof of concept has different phase. The first phase is pre-clinical trial where the drug shows its interaction with humans or animals without actually trying it out on them. The next phase relates to early clinical development and typically refers to an evaluation of the effect of a new treatment on disease biomarkers, but not the clinical endpoints of the condition. Early stage clinical trials may aim to demonstrate Proof of Mechanism, or Proof of Principle, or both. A decision is made at this point as to whether to progress the drug into later development, or if it should be dropped. The final phase is when the drugs are tested on animals and humans. Though this phase is also divided into categories, the endpoint is to use the drugs on animals or humans to ascertain and evaluate its risks or benefits and whether further improvements are needed. Nonetheless, whatever the findings and evaluations are, it’ll still be subjected thorough verification by a government instituted body like the FDA in the United States. Every country has their own drug agency that runs these verification.
Proof of concept is an important element in product development as it guides makers in making the right decisions and taking the right steps in the development of a viable product.
METHODOLOGY OF PROOF OF CONCEPT.
The best POC is carried out with the potential customers not individuals who do not understand or use the products. This is the only way this exercise can be successful. As a software developer, you don’t want to test the potential and marketability of a product with people who are alien to it.
Every business or product has its target consumers and the right way to ascertain a proof of concept or proof of principle is by running trials with this individuals.
Without conducting this exercise properly, a product has a high risk of failure; this is why it is advisable for this exercise to be carried out ahead of full production and launching of products. It saves unnecessary loss of funds and product failure.