May 7

What If God Were an App?

The following insights were gleaned from a presentation at INDUSTRY given by Jon Vars of Varo Money @JohnVDownload Product Management TACTICS eBook for more.

Early renaissance philosophy has more to do with product management than you might think? John recalls how four overarching themes taught to him in college philosophy classes actually extend into product management — and how the implementation of those themes can make the products and apps that we build almost “God-like.”

Philosophers in the Enlightenment were debating the existence of God and determined four qualities of God:

  1. Omniscience – all knowing
  2. Omnipresence – all places
  3. Omnipotence – all powerful
  4. Benevolence – all good

The quality of Omniscience comes from using data well and responsibly. We are in a new age of data collection. The companies of the future will need to use data to understand their customers’ past and future better than their customers may know. Using data in a way that also helps customers find answers themselves will help companies serve their products even better. The better we can protect our customers’ data, the more we can actually help them.

The quality of Omnipresence relates to a good app being wherever its customers are.  In this modern age, that means it must be truly mobile.  However, the definition of “mobile” is changing and entering a new phase. There were plenty of predictions about mobile smartphones that have already come true. Nearly everybody has a computer in their pocket and spends more time with that device than any other device they own.  But we will soon start to see things that weren’t predicted. And it’s important that we stay on top of how our customers’ lives are changing so we can adapt with them.

The quality of Omnipotence relates to your product being able to do everything your customers expect and more. That requires utility (being a “painkiller” and not just a “vitamin”), usability (eliminating as much friction as possible), and creating delight (matching emotional experience to expectations).

The quality of Benevolence relates to needing to do good to do well.  If you truly align your business to your customer’s success, it can become ssecond naturefor your business and products to live this quality. Of course, today — we can find many instances where this isn’t happening.  Many banks make which means they make a profit when their customers are doing poorly. But your customer’s success should equate to your success. And the use of your product should result in a better world for your customers and the people that surround them.

If you truly want your mobile app or product to be “God-like”, you must follow these laws and live these qualities.  You can push the line in certain circumstances, but you must never cross the line.  If you cross that line, you will begin to lose trust with your customers.  And for many customers, that trust can never be regained.

To view John’s full presentation, visit

Paul McAvinchey

About the author

For over 20 years, Paul has been building and collaborating on digital products with fast-growing startups and global brands, including AOL and WMS Gaming. Currently, he's a co-founder of Product Collective, a worldwide community of product people. Members collaborate on in the exclusive Member Hub, meet at INDUSTRY: The Product Conference, listen to, learn at Product Interviews and get a weekly newsletters that includes best practices in product management. In recent years he led business development at DXY, a leading product design firm in the Midwest, and product innovation at MedCity Media, a publishing startup acquired by Breaking Media in 2015.


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