Meet Mappy, Happy, and Dappy: Personas for Blockchain Product Management

Meet Mappy, Happy, and Dappy

Most blockchain projects to-date have focused on building decentralized applications, known as “DApps,” (or “Dappys”) only to find that the technology, scalability, and usability of blockchain is not yet ready for mainstream DApp adoption. Impatient crypto speculators are known to decry: “where’s the usage?” when it comes to DApps. Within the industry there is widespread hope that DApps will begin to gain some traction by 2020 and everyone is waiting for the first must-have killer DApp to emerge.

A smaller set of blockchain projects have prioritized developing blockchain solutions for existing centralized businesses with large user bases. The counter thesis amongst this crowd is: DApps are part of an exciting future, but that future could take years to materialize and gain consumer adoption; meanwhile there are mainstream businesses with millions of users (we call them “MApps” or “Mappys”) who envision delivering more customer-centric experiences and developing competitive advantage by moving parts of their businesses onto public blockchains. In doing so, centralized businesses could drive requirements for blockchain usability and scalability to enable mass-market adoption.

Both groups believe in an increasingly decentralized future. The healthy debate is over which comes first: decentralized apps or decentralized app users.

It’s the age-old product management question of which matters more: features or distribution?

One of the world’s all-time greatest product managers, Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, comes down squarely on the side of distribution:

[W]e want to create great products that people love, that gives them moments of magic, it’s part of why we do what we do. But if you are not building the strategy of product distribution, into what you are doing, then you are relying entirely on a form of: running into a field with a large metal pole hoping that lightning strike, and that’s not usually a winning strategy.

(Greylock, November 10th 2016, 4

m:54s) — LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman.

No matter which side of that debate you come down on, building the right product for your target customers and their users is critical to gaining acceptance and distribution.

Towards that end, Francesco Pacella and I developed three personas that our product teams rely on every day at OST: Mappy, Happy, and Dappy.

  • Mappy is a mainstream application whose core code runs on centralized servers. The Mappy company is curious about dipping some toes into blockchain and putting some transactions “on-chain” to provide increased customer value, build user trust, and gain competitive differentiation. If it works, Mappy would look to decentralize more transactions over time. Mappy typically has a large existing user base and they’re interested in blockchain to the extent that it improves their user engagement and helps with their key KPIs, but they will certainly resistant to taking a step back on user experience due to integrating blockchain into their app.
  • Happy envisions a hybrid application that combines the benefits of Mappy with the “programmable money” features of blockchains like Ethereum. Happy is intrigued by the idea of having smart contracts govern business logic to boost customer trust and empowerment.
  • Dappy is on the cutting edge, developing a fully decentralized application whose backend code runs on a decentralized peer-to-peer network. Dappy is prepared to go all-in on blockchain, smart contracts, user anonymity, and even governance.

Mappy, Happy, and Dappy may sound like Scrooge McDuck’s lost nephews, but these personas represent three types of businesses, differentiated primarily by the degree of decentralization they are ready to embrace in the near term. Knowing which of Mappy, Happy, or Dappy you are building for, and understanding the key differences between them, is critical to building successful blockchain products that gain end-user traction.

These profiles serve as more than reminders. Product managers rely upon detailed customer personas to help them understand target customers so they can tailor solutions to their needs.

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