Category Archives: Article

The complete product

There is a difference between core functionality and a complete product. The difference is success or failure in an organization’s ability to win in the market. Core functionality might get you in the door with an early adopter, but it doesn’t scale to the bigger market. So what makes up the complete product? Here are some attributes:

  • Packaging
  • Ease of installation
  • Documentation
  • Ease of maintenance
  • Ongoing user experience
  • Integration with 3rd party utilities
  • Sales support materials
  • Channel support materials
  • Technical support materials
  • SDKs and sample code (for platforms)
  • Development Partners (for platforms)
  • Demos

It is so easy to become excited about the proof of technology, and we should. And the next thing we should do is Continue reading

Old dogs and new tricks

For the 3 years, I worked on a new business unit inside an established company. Before that I was working on new product launches for another established company that was looking for new growth opportunities. In both cases, it was apparent that the core company did not want to embrace the change needed to allow the new venture to succeed. At the heart of the problem is that the new business unit / product division needs to use different tactics than the established business uses. The established business process have been refined and perfected over years by those who are now the senior management.

What makes these practices so valuable for the core business is exactly what makes them deadly for the new ventures. They minimize risk to the existing business by rejecting / killing other processes that might introduce instability. The new venture is by definition a risky process, if it is even a process at all yet. It is like our own immune system… Continue reading

“… and we allow the user to choose …”

At a recent startup event, I asked one of the founders to talk about their product; it was a consumer focused web application. During the description I was struck by the number of times she said “… and then we allow the user to choose…” I appreciated the freedom they “allowed” me, but I was exhausted!

What really struck me was the dual-nature of providing user choice. One perspective is that it exposes functionality and customization to the user, which sounds like a good thing. Alternatively, providing choice is just avoiding making a decision for the customer. I mean, ideally, I’d start to use the product and the experience would just be intuitive; I wouldn’t have to choose.

It is easy to see how a company gets stuck Continue reading

How disruptive is your idea?

The other day I was trying to convince my wife that it would be a good idea for me to go out on the town with my cousins while she took care of our 4 month old.

Sometimes you can get an idea across in a couple of minutes, maybe only in a sentence. Other times it seems like you just can’t get the point across.

Next time you have a new idea to share, try Continue reading

Free != Costless

I had coffee with my friend and mentor Neil Baron (blog) this morning. We were talking about methods organizations can use to drive adoption of new innovative products. At the heart of the conversation were tactics to identify the value that early adopters see in products, and how to translate these into benefits that the early majority will recognize and with which they will identify.

For some services and products, it makes sense to lower the price to $0, or “make it free”. If it’s free, and has value, why wouldn’t everyone take advantage of the offer? The thing is that even if the target customer is aware of the solution offered for free, they might not adopt. This is because there are still costs to adopting a solution. The customer still has to do something. Continue reading

True, Valuable, and Relevant

I was making spaghetti last week and thinking about customer research. I know, it’s not normal. Anyway, what I was thinking was how quantitative analysis can be true, valuable, and irrelevant all at the same time. And qualitative research can also be true, valuable, and irrelevant all at the same time.

Looking at my pasta I tabulated stats about the pasta. Continue reading

Product Stuck? Listen to your customers…

Last spring my company needed to make some important business decisions. We had been in business for a year, and things weren’t taking off as we had hoped. Our first thought was that we had the wrong product. We had the engineering know-how and could probably get the funding to enhance the product’s performance, but considering the opportunity and financial costs, we needed to be sure it was the right thing to do. Who could tell us what to do?

Qual Research

Customers are a wealth of information. Customers hold all the answers businesses need to grow, whether they know it or not. Continue reading

Quantitative Research: Make sure it is worth the investment

People really like quantitative research. You sound really smart when you can say “33% of iPod owners use their iPods less than once a month”, or “17% of white males between 25 and 45 who earn more than 60k a year own a game console”. Numbers are hard to argue with, and specificity implies knowledge.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research can be a lot of hard work. There are the basic things you need to do for any quantitative research like:
Continue reading

Consumer Research: There’s two kinds…

Consumer research is an important part of product line planning. Knowing what your target customer wants, and often more importantly, what they “need”, provides a robust framework for defining a product or service value proposition. Consumer research is not only valuable in product planning, and can help enhance attributes of your current products by better understanding who your customer is, and fine tuning the product positioning and placement.

There are generally two categories of consumer research: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative research usually involves in depth conversations with a small number of people, maybe 10 or 20. Quantitative research usually employs a research tool like a questionnaire or survey to get a statistically relevant read of a sample population, often more than 100 people and sometimes as high as 2000.

Qual vs. Quant
Continue reading

From Research to Lifecycle Management

In general, it seems that most of the products and services I’ve worked on followed this model

Product Concept Lifecycle

Each of these steps is important, though none of them are sufficient unto themselves to guarantee a successful product. Great research is useless unless it can be applied. Excellent development doesn’t matter if the team is working on the wrong product. A great definition does not guarantee a good product launch.To me, good product management is the coordination and integration of these blocks. Continue reading