We think deeply about our products and services that we create for the market. We build features, automations, UX, UI, and extensive training to support each one. Marketing studies are done and we present these to our perfect customer profile with invested and talented sales teams around the world.
There is nothing wrong with this approach, but as we achieve faster capabilities to generate products, and in parallel there is the elimination of the classic intermediaries in every business transaction. These together necessitate a new set of skillsets:
- Empathy of the customer
- Iterations reactive to market, human, and technology events
- Comfort with building extreme minimum viable products
Empathy to customer
No longer are we building products we want to build and demanding their use through sheer market dominance. The benefits that a customer gains from our product is the truer measure of a successful product vs the quantity of features shipped.
Product teams must appreciate the challenges of the consumer of their product and design accordingly. Are they a mom and therefore need technology that is 100% viable through voice commands, or are they a 2,000 person building and have to provide customer HVAC and interior experience unique that person’s defined preferred temperate and humidity specifications (no longer are sleep number beds enough, now the rooms adapt naturally to the specific human needs).This is care for the consumer has been growing more important and possible as we have been able to begin engaging with our end consumers directly. This proximity and data being gained from these close contacts means we can react, and react fast to make improvements.
Iterations reactive to market, human, and technology events
DevOps and Agile are growing up and the toolsets and automations that have emerged are allowing development teams around the world to make and deploy not just software based technology and but hardware too. The ability to create rapid prototypes that are viable (3D printing and other manufacturing) and ready to make circuit boards at scale are just the beginning in the physical world. We are seeing massive capabilities, JIT manufacturing, and more.
All together — faster development models, automation engines, and manufacturing create the opportunity for speed. Speed to build, speed to react, and speed to capture moments in time events.
Products always have reacted to the market. A trend in IOT, for instance, exists and suddenly companies channel engineering to respond. Start-ups also join in and over time viable solutions exist … over the course of years.
Now there is a new time line, and that includes human and technology events where these same engineering teams must and can react to these events. Human events — might be sports events; they might be BrexIt, or others. Technology events could be the release of a new type of technology or popular adoption. Examples here might be creating a Twitch supporting product, or seeing the popularity of SnapChat and steering products in that fasion. Wearables, AI, ML, VR, and blockchain all open doors of possibility.
Are you ready to provide benefits to your customers using these technology advantages?
Comfort with building extreme minimum viable products
To really meet these opportunities we have to be comfortable with trial and error. Lots of error. Lots of tests and a cycle rate that seeks discovery and proof vs subjective selection based on hierarchy and seniority in a company.
Those that succeed will not be monitoring for lowest failed deployments and products, but highest cycle rate of versions and tests. The aim is to embrace a culture of extreme minimum viable products and see if the benefits sought are gained by the consumer. Build a skateboard vs building a car. Then build upon it.
Features over benefits
In the end we need to train our eyes away from the bells and whistles we are so used to focusing on in our products. Speeds and feeds matter but they are features. They are not the customer benefit. The more you focus on the benefit the more you:
- Allow flexibility to achieving that benefit (focusing on the experience releases you from historic practices and “essentials”)
- Can better understand the use by your customer and then adapt those features to serve that user
Our desire in creating products and services is to bring joy to our customers and satisfy that need. Whether that need is known today or not. It is a mutual discovery process of us with the customer, together.
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I am a father, study of human behavior, strategist, cybersecurity veteran, and a coach and mentor on a journey to give more than I receive everyday. I lead teams globally, build products, and daily an executive for a leading company where I serve the largest companies in the world using the largest cloud deployments in the world impacting the financial services, healthcare, and fintech industries. I provide these publications and content through my media agency to deliver insights and advantages. Mindset, mental strength, mentorship, personal improvement, health, fitness, and humanist ideas are drawn from personal research and practice. Everything read and heard is my original works and my own perspective. All rights reserved for noted authors and sources. I produce research and strategy, as well as provide advisory services that include inquiries, briefings, consulting projects, and presentations on published findings as well as bespoke speaking engagements where I often keynote at conferences, seminars, and roundtables annually.