Have you ever heard the term “nothing new under the sun”?
It’s actually a term used by King Solomon to illustrate that everything goes around and ends up happening again.
How does this term relate to product management? Allow me to illustrate.
New trends are constantly emerging in the product world, whether they are digital, cloud, or mobile apps, they seem to mimic, “nothing new under the sun”. They all follow the same structure of product creation — you have an idea, a process, create a prototype, and finally, you provide a deliverable. Has product creation changed in the last 90 years? Let’s see.
Imagine it’s the mid-1920’s. You are looking to purchase a new suit. You visit your local tailor or suit shop. The tailor takes your measurements for a suit jacket and a pair of pants. The tailor discusses the different fabrics available, color options, the time frame for making the suit, and the date the suit would be available for pickup. The tailor also indicates that the suit may need additional adjustments. Does this process sound familiar to product creation? It should!
Today, the consumer has three options for purchasing a suite. You can visit a local retail store to purchase an off-the-rack suit with the hope the suit fits. You can pay to have the same suit tailored or even have a custom suit made.
Custom suits today are costly and typically not for mass consumption. This illustration sets the foundation of how businesses still operate and conduct business today. One area that businesses will continue to focus improvement on is the evolution of product management. How can a company be more efficient? Are there new processes, procedures, tactics that a business can implement? What are they? Businesses will continue to push the envelope, new trends will continue to evolve, and businesses will adapt.
What will the next decade of product management look like? Will SaaS providers or application developers build solutions with the anticipation that someone will purchase their products or services?
Back in the 1920’s, a tailor would never have imagined designing suits prior to selling them. How do you design a suit without first knowing the customer’s requirements – jacket and pants size, color, fabric choice, etc…
2016 will be a year customers, whether internal or external to your company, will demand more from their employer or as a customer. How do you determine what your “customers” needs and wants are? In simplistic terms, it all begins with the basics — market research. Using tactics such as questionnaires, polls, telemarketing, and focus groups will unveil a plethora of information. The answers will direct your company into areas that you might have never considered.
To meet these demands, you’ll need to do two things.
1. Developing Things Current Customers Need
It’s called being customer-centric, and will most likely be a buzzword for several years. Keep in mind that this isn’t customer-focused (not a bad thing either as you’ll see in a second), but centric means that you are working to provide options for current customers to improve their lifetime value.
For example, you order a martini. The bartender asks you if you would like blue cheese, anchovy, or sundry tomato olives – adding value, providing options. However, your competitor only offers pimento olives – a standard condiment for a martini – no value, no options.
Customer-focused in providing a service to the customer’s needs and wants. For example, a customer asks the salesperson if they have a pair of shoes in a different size. The salesperson brings back the requested size. You provided a service to them. You retrieved a size they requested. Keep in mind, customer-centric means that you are working to provide options for current customers to improve their lifetime value.
Example: Your company created a vertical real estate SaaS product. One feature of the app allows for the real estate agents or brokers to view all their listings and open houses. It’s a successful product that your clients love. To illustrate customer-centric behavior, you would reach out to your client, inquire into any new features that would best enhance the user’s experience. The user may have a wish list of “I wish this app can do” or the developer comes up with additional features that the app “can do”.
2. Focusing on Customers (Existing and New)
Creating an atmosphere that is all about your customers isn’t just for the marketing team, but should be a metric for the product development stage.
Product development should never end with the release of an application. Ongoing testing, re-engineering and adding functionality should be an ongoing process. By continually enhancing your product, measuring the results, and adapting to user needs, the outcome could lead to higher customer satisfaction, increased user retention, increased productivity, and possibly an increase in sale. Don’t make the mistake of being so product focused. Keep an eye open to new ideas, listen to users opinions, create awesome apps that enhance your user’s experience. Otherwise, you may have a product that goes to the graveyard.
No one wants a suit that doesn’t fit.
Takeaway: For every product, you engineer or develop, make sure you have compiled the data, researched the vertical market, and ensure the product or service is ready for primetime. The easiest data to collect is from your current customers. They will provide positive and negative feedback. Continually increase their lifetime value while always keeping customers in mind.
Data Driven Solutions
If you’re working on your first product or in a new industry, you’ll have to do a little more legwork.
Over the next decade, data will (continue to) expand exponentially. All of this data will yield new markets and billions of dollars in untapped revenue for those who are willing to break out the soft measuring tape and find the right measurements.
The good news? Data is everywhere. With all of the places to gather data and gauge interest, there is no reason to build anything without a market. The visionaries will create solutions that will generate billions of dollars in untapped markets. Are you the next entrepreneur willing to break out the measuring tape and find the right measurements? Ask the tailor, he did.
Open Data is Crucial
A growing percentage of all the information being collected can be used by anyone. Companies, social media, and particularly government sources are making their data open for all. There is no end to the exciting apps that are being developed from very unlikely sources.
Best Place to Start: Data.gov. Research data in an industry you’re familiar with or have experience.
Potential Hang-Ups: Data overload. This article may help you sort through the vast sea of info.
Takeaway: Using open data and other sources for research and development will be a larger part of the market every year moving forward. Data is your friend.
Speed, Agility, and Quality
While there are multiple differences between developers and tailors, similarities can be derived. Both create custom solutions to problems that typically help people work and live more comfortably.
A seasoned tailor, who creates a flawless product, will never sacrifice time to deliver a piece of artwork – his suit. Often, by joining forces with an outside consultant, the standards are much higher. An outside consultant has a reputation to uphold. You only get one chance to prove your worthiness by never sacrificing quality, commitment, or delivery times.
Your products should be no different.
Over the last several years, developers have been exploring, evaluating, and modifying the application development process. Currently, there are two mainstream application development processes: Agile and Waterfall. Waterfall development was the de facto process. Today, more companies have begun the transition away from Waterfall to Agile development.
Agile and Scrum
A popular methodology in the development world called Agile is (in extremely short terminology) a system to organize multiple teams around development projects to ensure the highest quality work in a smooth and team-oriented environment.
Scrum is associated with Agile but is different from other agile processes due to its streamlined nature. Teams that use an Agile Scrum process (or variations of it) find that it can help uphold quality standards while having a better sense of the development time. At the same time, this process will help products stay under control and problems will be corrected quickly.
Here’s a quick look at a standard Scrum process.
Several larger brands are looking to speed up the process and output of products in their pipelines. The need for faster creation has motivated them to find qualified professionals to help create software in a fast and efficient way.
Takeaway: Find ways (including current methodologies) to increase the quality and speed you ship new products in the future, utilizing a quality third-party developer to accomplish goals.
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Koombea doesn’t make suits, but we help individuals, small businesses, and large corporations build software solutions for their customers.
Whether you need a program for your current market, open data, or just have an idea, we can help.
Send us a quick message and let’s start a conversation.