Category Archives: Market Trends
I am currently reading the book “Slow down to Speed up” by Liz Bywater and understand the importance of leading, succeeding and thriving in the fast pacing 24/7 world of Product Management. Sharing my thoughts to help Product Managers on how you can drive business to achieve complete digital transformation around product development and innovation.
I have been in the software industry as a product manager for the last 15+ years. It’s interesting to see how Product Management and Product development is continuously evolving. Now with Cloud computing and SaaS being the main business drivers for software efficiencies, companies need to pay attention to the details around the digital transformation efforts around strategy, decision making and execution to stay innovative. Understanding the current gaps in their product development process and addressing them at the earliest is critical.
I will cover some of the areas that a Product Manager or a Product Owner can make a difference.
Digital Transformation mindset to explore business problems
Everyone is talking about digital transformation on how it is important for every organization. But there is a specific structure that every company needs to follow if they want to be successful. There are a few variables that each company needs to put in place since Product strategy is a continuous process.
- Executives and senior level management need a new mindset that is flexible and open to exploring a business strategy that is a continuous journey. The strategy will have to be based on various different factors that are continuously monitored and fine-tuned.
- Product Managers and Product owners will need to do the following to have help defining a strategy and get buy-in from the executives on a regular basis.
- Gain knowledge about the macro and micro trends in the industry around their business. Understand the pros, and cons and how that would have an effect on the business needs.
- Maintain a continuous and ongoing dialogue and transparency with the customers to understand their pain points, their business needs and the changes that drive their success.
- Monitor the competitive landscape to understand the gaps and the innovation practices.
- Build partnerships that would add value to the business and can help address gaps.
- Design thinking to define and understand the market problems and brainstorming various ideas driven by outcomes on how the market problems could be addressed.
- Drive continuous experimentation on each idea to gather data on the business outcomes.
Decision-Making to build the right things
Decision-making is both an art and science. There are various frameworks that are available to help Product managers and Product owners in the decision-making process https://blog.usejournal.com/top-11-frameworks-every-product-manager-should-know-aad46dd37b62.
Irrespective of the framework that a company adopts, a data-driven decision-making process makes the decisions error proof and provides insights and learning to innovate. Remember data gathering is a continuous process just like strategy. Data helps you to make better decisions that are low risk but high business value.
Here are a few ideas on how to gather data
- Continuous data gathering through experimentation on ideas. Helps to identify the right market fit and defining business outcomes. Thereby helps to add value to your customers.
- Continuous data gathering through customer engagement with your product to enhance customer experience.
- Continuous data gathering from customer interactions and feedback captured as the voice of the customer.
- Continuous data gathering from sales around win/loss analysis.
- Continuous data gathering from customer success on product issues and improvements.
- Continuous data gathering from marketing around product promotions.
- Continuous data gathering from finance around product pricing
Execution to build and launch things right
Once the decision is made to build an idea into a product, the path to execution starts. The steps that are involved to trigger execution is to break down the idea into smaller and lean set of requirements that can be launched and continuously gather data and insights to improve the building process more efficiently. This is a collaborative effort that a Product Owner drives with engineering. Agile is the popular methodology that is quite common across all companies these days when it comes to how software is built.
This would mean that you take time to do the following steps
- Planning: As a product owner, break down the idea into a smaller subset of requirements and define the acceptance criteria that fit into an agile sprint and add that into to the sprint backlog.
- Prioritization: Leverage the data that you have continuously gathered earlier to prioritize the backlog on what to build next sprint and launch.
- Build: As a product owner, work with engineering to make sure the implementation addresses the requirements, meets the acceptance criteria around functionality, performance baselines and data is captured around specific KPIs.
- Launch: As a product owner, work with marketing, sales, and support to get the market positioning and the sales and support enablement right.
- Analyze Data: As a product owner, analyze the data to gain insights after every launch, fine-tune the KPIs to improve the qualitative data that you capture in each build. Based on insights that you have gathered from the data, go back to Step 2 to re-prioritize the backlog
Execution now is a continuous journey where you rinse and repeat to innovate!
Product Management is a continuous journey of the product you manage. Hence you need to “Slow down to Speed up” to stay current and relevant in the digital transformation age.
More and more organizations these days focus on customer success when it comes to their go to market strategy to win, serve and retain customers. It is key that you build and deliver products that engage, retain and delight them, especially in the early stages of your product. It is well known that it is easier to keep a customer than to acquire a new one.
Here is what Gartner says:
“80% of your future business will come from 20% of your current customers”
As a product manager I am always conscious of incorporating features that are customer centric and growth centric. From the get go, it is important to have a growth hacking approach to the product development. This leads to a better customer acquisition and retention product strategy.
Here are the 10 important points for a good customer success story board:
Provide self-service customer on-boarding, free trials, product evaluation and training. Empower the customer to evaluate the product. Offer online easy to use tutorials and self training for rapid learning. Educate the customer about the value proposition to assist purchase decisio.
2. Proactive Customer Service
In a highly competitive, constantly changing market there is a strong need to engage and provide superior customer service to your customers even before they make any purchase decisions.
- Focus on addressing the end to end product experience (download, install, configure, deploy and use) and not just making the download available.
- Articulate the benefits that the products will offer by solving their business issue and providing a realistic expectation on the ROI instead of focusing on the price and the competitive differentiators alone.
- Invest in resources that will tailor and provide better education and support to the buyers so the end to end experience of the product from purchase to deployment to maintenance is delightful.
3. Voice of the Customer
Understanding what your customers think, experience, and want is critical for retention and growth. Engaging customers to get feedback and responding to them positively will build more confidence and trust with the customers. Make the product sticky.
From the inception, ensure that your product captures usage metrics that help educate you about different aspects of your product and its usage.
- Product usage metrics: Track signups, logins, and application usage metrics. Capture the app version, the license type, content type, location data, environment data, events, error conditions, peak times of usage, etc.
- Business metrics: is the customers getting the end-result they expected by tracking their performance metrics like response time, application availability, authentication time, users per day and more
- Service utilization metrics: gathering data to see if the customer is fully utilizing the product features, how many product defects gets raised and against which feature.
- Customer rating metrics: Track customer happiness, their experience and their feedback. Gather metrics around sales bookings, churn, ROI and adoption metrics.
- Support and operations metrics: are there any outstanding support, SLA or invoicing issues, unplanned outages. Track the mean time to resolve a support incident, incident initial response time, affected users on a single incident.
5. Customer Experience Mapping
There are several approaches to experience mapping. Understand how customers flow through the organization and the challenges that customers encounter, opportunities lost versus gained, the customer value and cost, their adoption journey, and ROI are all important data points that can help in generating more leads at the same time facilitate to retain existing customers.
6. Customer Segmentation
Categorizing customers into market or service groups and providing services tailored to these segments for winning and retaining the right customers.
7. Customer Engagement and Retention based Marketing
Establish proactive customer outreach programs and tools for effective Communications and Openness thereby to foster better customer relationship and creating customer value and profit margins while preserving existing revenues.
8. Customer Loyalty Rewards
Provide Customers insights to review where their money is spent and consolidate their purchasing under loyalty programs featuring rewards that they actually want. For maximum appeal, offer customer-relevant reward options and a quick, easy redemption process.
9. Customer Win-Back Program
If customers did leave, reach out to understand what happened, tell them about the changes you’ve made to resolve the issues that led to their departure; share product roadmaps and future vision; entice customers to come back with a loyalty offer they’ll value—and then keep them with excellence.
10. Employee Customer Engagement
Last but certainly not least, happy employees are a crucial prerequisite for happy customers: the relationship between employee engagement and customer engagement is undeniable. It is vital to ensure that employees are educated, encouraged, and empowered to promote and enact customer retention strategy at all times.
For those who have worked and dealt with Middleware software in the past which provided services to software applications beyond the operating system, the term aPaaS should not be a hard to understand concept.
An aPaaS as per Gartner’s definition is as a PaaS (app middleware + cloud characteristics) designed to enable runtime deployment, management and maintenance of cloud business application services. It supports requirements for business application and application projects and is delivered as-a-service..
Middleware has been the commonly used term for on premise software that enabled communication and management of data in distributed applications. Middleware gained popularity in the 1980s as a solution to the problem of how to link newer applications to older legacy systems. The vendors who built and offered Middleware had a strategy of building a complete and integrated suite of middleware to allow our customers to develop, deploy, and manage applications. For customers the middleware software not only offered off the self features around building and hosting application but also the ease around the integration burdens which facilitated the ability to link applications together and provide more consistent access to information.
You can now relate the same middleware software capabilities to an aPaaS in the cloud that offers the following services
- Platform services
- Identity Services
- Integration services
- Business Process Management Services
- Development Tools
- Deployment Tools
- Management Tools
Why would anyone need an aPaaS?
These days cloud services is picking up lot of traction when it comes to SaaS, PaaS or IaaS. Refer to my earlier blog post ” Why Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model matters for both customers as well as vendors” as to the reasons why oth customers and vendors are investing in the rapidly evolving application platform.
Gartner recently published their first Magic Quadrant (MQ) for aPaaS with their focuses on public cloud enterprise aPaaS offerings. – See more at: https://www.gartner.com/doc/2645317?pcp=itg. It’s interesting to see how quickly the aPaaS market has evolved in a period of less than 9 months, now that Gartner now has a MQ for this space. Quite a few Platform as a Service (PaaS) vendors whose primary focus in 2013 was providing Platform Services are now posiioing and evolving their services to address the aPaaS space. This is a clear indication that PaaS market has matured and the revenue opportunities are shrinking. The PaaS vendors clearly see that the growth opportunity is to move into the application space and they need to innovate quickly to become market leaders.
An aPaaS infrastructure is a self contained environment that will offer the following
1. Build applications
The application platform provides you with all the tools you need to iterate quickly, and adopt the right technologies for your project
2. Deploy apps in minutes, with tools you love.
Reduces development and deployment time. They offer a way to rollout new application features into production has never been easier. Set up staging and test environments that match production so you can deliver functionality without fear, and continuously make improvements.
3. Scale the application to millions of users.
Tools and features that will help to scale your application at the same time ability to upgrade your database software in a few simple steps.The growth could happen over a year or overnight, but aPaaS will facilitate you to grow on demand to capture opportunity.
4. Integrate with various other applications
Provides additional software services like operating system, database, security and vulnerability management, API and integration infrastructure and more
Stay tuned, in my next log topic that I would like to explore is “What’s next after aPaaS for both vendors and customers?.”
For couple of years now, mobile innovation has primarily focused all its resources and time on the consumer market. In 2013 there are tremendous opportunities and market demand for innovative solutions and products that address the needs of a mobile strategy for enterprises.
In 2013, analysts have forecasted 1.2 billion smartphones and tablets will be sold worldwide, up from 821 million in 2012. With more and more enterprise encouraging the idea of BYOD for their users, having a mobile strategy is not an option anymore. It is a necessity for all enterprises.
What is it to have a mobile strategy?
Most enterprises now have aligned a strategy to address their mobile user needs to meet their business goals through evolving technologies. Hence creating a compelling mobile experience for their users is now becoming a competitive necessity.
Here is the standard requirements that companies have adopted around a mobile strategy so far:
1. Mobile Apps to provide easy and secure access:
Most companies have a mobile strategy starts with mobile app to accommodate the user driven IT world and provide easy access to content like the ability to connect to files and documents from smartphones and tablets as efficiently as they can from laptops and desktops.
The mobile apps could be a native apps to support and meet the needs of specific mobile devices, which are made downloadable through the app stores or they it could rich HTML5 based web apps. Refer to my earlier post for more on the benefits of HTML5 : Future of Web Applications as I see it.
Also, check out this article on HTML5 vs native app
2. Maintain control and security while providing a simple End-User experience
This would require the need to support a mobile device and access management solution to make sure they can enforce and control these mobile devices on who, how, where and what resources the users can access. Refer to my earlier post for more on Mobile Security – BYOD Trends and Needs
3. Support a Social-Business context through evolving technologies
Mobile users are using the mobile devices for their personal and their professional lives— whether they’re working remotely on mobile devices or at the home office. This means that tools around collaboration, file sharing, workflow systems, WLAN capacity, network bandwidth and other network resources should allow users to fully engage both on business and social terms at the same time. This would require enterprises to support a flexible model to support their evolving business needs through technologies to provide better, faster and secure transactions without compromising the privacy of these mobile users.
So far go good…It will be interesting to watch how this strategy will evolve in the future?.
Cloud computing in the areas of Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a service (SaaS) were the words of 2012. Vendors like SAP, IBM,Microsoft, RedHat, Oracle, VMWare and Citrix all entered this space early on and now we see that these solutions are evolving into second generation products in 2013 (Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2013/01/14/the-second-generation-of-cloud-startups-is-here/#ST0T4K7MFbYxhGlA.99)
Now that cloud computing is making a huge impact in other market areas like big data, social and mobility, to help drive and support new business scenarios, we will see more and more hardware and software vendors embarking this journey around their products and solutions. ( See: Gartner: 10 critical IT trends for the next five years)
Benefits of the cloud offerings is often associated with reducing cost and increasing agility. While this is true, the more strategic role that cloud solutions can play for the customers and the vendors are in achieving operational excellence, product leadership, customer intimacy, and open innovation. Cloud computing is part of a long and powerful trend towards virtualization. Virtualization acts as a stepping stone for cloud which mainly helps to bring down the operation cost down, at the same time facilitate speed and agility in deployment and maintenance in the long run.
Given the above factors, the following are typical areas to consider when thinking of ROI when adopting a cloud strategy:
- Hardware costs – how much will this save in terms of the servers and storage devices.
- Maintenance for the hardware – will there be any savings ?
- Software licenses cost – usually the license post for a cloud solution is priced less than on premise. How much cost can be reduced per seat?
- Maintenance for the software – include both the vendor support and your internal support costs
- Facilities costs – can you lower the power, HVAC, building costs etc.?
- Productivity/efficiency costs– what is the learning curve, are the people who will use the new system more productive? what is the cost involved for training?
- Agility around new opportunities – are you able to respond faster, but cheaper, to opportunities that otherwise would have taken more development time and money?
Over the weekend the CBS 60 minutes program covered the approach of Design Thinking (http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50138327n) where company like IDEO incorporates human behavior into product design, an innovative approach that is now being taught at Stanford university these days to get the younger generation to think differently.
This made me wonder why innovation is not a topic that is strictly enforced by all product development companies. When it comes to the product life-cycle, innovation is a word that is loosely thrown around. Management tells their employees that they promote innovation but there is no goals or requirements that is tracked around innovation specifically.
Importance of Innovation
It’s a well know fact that ‘creativity’ is about coming up with ideas while ‘innovation’ is about bringing ideas to life. If product companies have to innovate they need to take risk with their ideas which requires time, investment and resources. Let’s take the example of Proctor & Gamble (P&G), an american multinational market leader in consumer goods. This isn’t accidental. It’s the result of a strategic effort by P&G over the past decade to systematize innovation and growth. Their product portfolio at any point of time is a result of dedicated focus on innovation. They will lose their #1 place in the consumer goods market if they do not innovate. Apple is another well know example who had dominance with its product portfolio because of its innovative culture that Steve Jobs always championed for. If Apple does not maintain its track record with innovation, the company will very soon lose its market share against other competitive vendors.
Role of Innovation in Software companies
80-90% of the big software companies these days take small and safe bets to innovate with their products. They mostly listen to their customers and their feedback and meet their needs by adding features and functionality to the existing products. They then tag that as their strategy for innovation. On the other hand, all the big innovations of new ideas are brought to life in software startups. Startups are backed by venture capitalist who fund them to convert the bigger and smarter ideas to transform them into profitable, commercial revenue generating product and services.
Overtime big software companies lose their product edge over competitors and to stay current in the market they acquire these software startup companies and integrate them into the existing product portfolio. Over the process of integration the products produced by larger companies lose their real value, the product becomes bulky and complex. Hence this strategy is not always effective. This need to change!.
Innovation as a Strategy
There are various well-known innovation frameworks and best practices that is already available, which enforces the importance of adopting the concepts of innovation at every step of the product life cycle. This should be the new way of thinking irrespective of whether the software products are developed in large or small companies.
In order to promote the cycle of innovation as the heart of a software product life-cycle, companies should enforce a strategy and promote a culture with specific goals that can be tracked and monitored around the product.
Here are some of the steps that can turn innovation into success for any product.
- Encourage free flow of ideas and reward them.
- Allow to share knowledge around the ideas across the company.
- Allow to interact with inside as well as outside the company resources who have the knowledge around these ideas.
- Educate and allow to seek knowledge around market and the technology trends.
2. Market research:
- Is there a need or desire for the product?
Is the size of the potential market adequate?
Will the customer buy the product?
- Will the product satisfy the market needs?
3. Competitive and Risk analysis:
- Will the product have a competitive advantage?
- Is the advantage profitable ?
- Do we have all the internal resources to build and sustain and make the difference?
- Can we get a buy-in from the top management and support it?
4. Revenue and growth:
- Are forecasted returns greater than costs?
- Are the risks acceptable?
- Does the product fit your overall growth strategy?
- Can it help us tap into additional markets?
- Can it help us to be market leaders and establish to strengthen the brand?
Fraud is a serious problem and requires new way of thinking to address this problem. Irrespective of the market type whether its financial services, online retail, point of sale or healthcare, fraud prevention and management is the biggest pain point for all customers these days.
In the security market to address Fraud, the real-time security intelligence along with the power of Big Data is spearheading the growth of solution vendors to innovate and differentiate their solutions from old-school security vendors.
Fraud causes companies to lose money in many ways. These days there is a greater need for a real-time solution to help to organizations automatically detect the anomalies with their users or system behaviours early on, which then can help to notify and take appropriate action This will prevent fraud and the loss of revenue.
Let’s take the example of healthcare to list out some of the well know challenges around fraud.
- Organized groups defrauding insurance companies through elaborate schemes against government-sponsored programs or private health insurers
- Patient medical IDs are stolen or duplicated for financial benefits
- User impersonation for prescription drug benefits and many more…
Meanwhile, hospitals and HMO pay a heavy price through fines and litigations if they don’t comply to all the Healthcare laws that are enforced by the government. So, they have to ensure appropriate checks and measures to prevent violations by their users/patients/doctors when they use the applications and systems.
Old school way of Fraud management:
Most companies have invested and adopted multi-factor authentication methods (ex: password, smart cards, One-Time Password (OTP), biometrics etc) as an only mechanism to identify and protect their users who are using their applications and systems but also a way to manage fraud. The picture here suggests a mechanism that they enforce currently to do a fraud evaluation.
These companies have quickly understood that multi-factor authentication alone cannot scale and address fraud issues since the bad guys have figured out a way to break through these multi-factor authentication mechanisms.
This is why there is a need for real-time intelligence security solution!.
Real-time Security Intelligence through Big Data
The challenges that makes realtime intelligence gathering the right approach to address fraud are:
- No single layer or a multi factor authentication is enough to keep determined fraudsters out of enterprise systems. Multiple layers must be employed to defend against today’s attacks and those that are yet to appear.
- No authentication measure on its own, especially when communicating through a browser, is sufficient to counter today’s threats. Additional fraud prevention layers must be utilized.
- Malware is the biggest immediate threat, malware-based attacks are spreading to multiple sectors and enterprises.
Like the picture shows, a typical user will make multiple clicks and will interact with multiple applications in the background through a browser before he gets to the shopping cart. This would mean there is a way for us to gather a lot more data and information about the user and analyse his behavior realtime
Here are come of the steps that will help us build real-time intelligence around the user behavior:
1. End point Data : involves capturing context of users at the endpoint which is his device. For example is he using the browser on a PC, desktop, tablet, smart phone. Capture the user’s IP, geo-location, authentication credentials and many more.
2. Session Data: gather, monitor and analyze user’s session (ex. http post parameters and other session attributes) and his navigation behavior on the browser. Compare this with his earlier navigation patterns to identify abnormal patterns based on his transitional history.
3. User Data: gather to monitor and analyzes user’s behavior to identify any anomalous behaviors during the transaction .
4. Context Analysis: Analyse the relationships among internal and/or external entities, systems and their attributes (for example, users, accounts, account attributes, machines and machine attributes etc.). Analyze the application logs, system logs, database logs and build predictive models for the user behaviour around applications and the systems involved.
The intelligence gathering and analysis in the above steps involves gathering the right data and also analyzing the data with an effective algorithm. This is where the Big Data plays a role to help build an effective and accurate model based on the user’s interaction with the application and system, that will help detect anomalies and prevent and manage fraud efficiently.
The secret to the success of such a Real-time Security Intelligence solution boils down to the quality of data collection and the advanced algorithms that addresses the 3 Vs of Big Data not only to build accurate predictive models but also support self learning for the solution to get smarter over time.
The awareness around Big Data is on the rise and is exciting!. As we all know in the technology space the word Big Data revolves around the 3 V’s, the Volume, Velocity and Variety of the data that is typically seen in all enterprises these days.
The blog on visualize the 3V concept is a good resource that provides a view into Big Data if you are not so familiar with have this question: “What is Big Data?.”
It’s 2013, the time is so right for all enterprises to pay more attention to their Big Data. With the right technology and processes around their Big Data, enterprises can now trigger new ideas around business growth in 2013.
Some of the exciting new strategies that enterprises should look at for their Big Data are:
1. Build advanced predictive models with the information that they already have around their customers and products to create new product and marketing services that will help to differentiate them from their competitors.
2. Data Mining that will help to understand their customers buying persona that will facilitate to capture new customers and markets.
3. Real-time analytics to understand the past behavior patterns of the customers which then will provide greater ability to satify the existing customers by providing personalized services that is relevant to meet their needs and wants.
Facebook hit the Big Data issues where they had to process huge amounts of structured ( ex. …)and unstructured ( ex. video, email, text) data half decade ago. Facebook joining forces with Yahoo then lead to the creation of Hadoop, a software platform for processing and analyzing epic amounts of data streaming across the modern web. These days the social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn have to deal with Big Data to keep their system operational. Guess what they are using to process and manage their Big Data. It is all done through Hadoop. Today we have eBay, and dozens of other high-profile web vendors are using Hadoop to analyzes their vast amounts of data generated during their online operations.
Reshaping the Business Model around Big Data
Most enterprise have Big Data that they have gathered in their data warehouses over the years. But they do not know how to use them nor do they know what the benefits that the various data that they have gathered over the years or the new data that they can collect will help. This is why business needs to spend more time to understand the importance of their existing data and think of ways that they can incorporate data which can help them to grow their revenue.
Let’s look at some examples to understand the value of Big Data in these specific markets. Mobile applications, tablets and smartphones are creating customers and services to consume and integrate structured and unstructured data from a variety of sources.
1. HealthCare Market:
Business objective: Providing, enhancing and streamlining how hospitals connect with and care for their patients. Develop and facilitate personalized therapies and diagnostics to the patients
Big Data opportunity : Incorporate a Big Data analysis engine to build predictive models against patients cynical history, genetics, blood work etc.models.
Why: This will facilitate the doctors to make best treatment recomendations in a timely fashion for their patients. This will help to offer the best care at the same time reducing the healthcare cost by avoiding unnecessary treatments to patients.
2. Retail Online Market :
Business objective: Revolves around connecting the merchants with the consumers in a more effective way such that the consumers can find what they want conveniently and effectively in a timely fashion. This would require merchants to know what the consumers are looking, when and where.
Big Data opportunity : Incorporate a Big Data analysis engine that builds predictive models that will help to make better decisions
- Build consumer models with their transactional history, buying pattern, interest in types of goods, browsing pattern, buying power pattern in $ amount etc.
- Generate a catalogue for the Merchants based on the type of goods, price, value and access.
Why: The predictive models will help to effectively connect the merchants with the consumer so its a win-win for all business entities.
3. Financial Market
Business objective: Provide a High-Performance Trading platform that is effective,accurate and reliable
Big Data opportunity : Advanced analytical engine that will allow for the analysis of complex data sets and the ability to connect patterns and relationships applied to analysing news, social media feeds, scanning incoming emails, or disecting company regulatory filings to generate predictable models
Why: This will facilitate the traders to make effective and accurate trading decisions that is profitable
Big Data Technology and Solutions:
With the 3 Vs around Big Data, enterprises will have to look at the technologies, solutions and data stores that will help them to be successful with Big Data.
Big Data Technology & Data Stores: There are lot of vendors that can offer products around Big Data software platforms and data stores. This was the first areas that got a lot of attention from vendors to address the Data management, processing and operational issues around Big Data. Machine Learning engines are still evolving which will help build accurate and a reliable predictive models . Because of the nature of volume, variety and the velocity with which Big Data has to processed it requires an accurate and a reliable model-building process which has to be automated through advanced algorithms to be effective.
Big Data Solutions: Right now most of enterprises are trying to build specific tailored solutions in-house to address their basic needs. The Big Data solution space is still a evolving and there is lot of opportunities for innovation and creativity The solution market for Big Data is still an untapped market.
The story is a bit different when it comes to realtime analytics. Enterprises clearly understand the importance of real-time analytics and how it provides a value to the current business. As a result there are vendors who have already built cool realtime analytical solutions that the market wants and that help enterprises reshape their existing business model.
Having been a product manager for the 10+ years for enterprise software, I have always watched and observed how the Product marketing teams handle product launches, their go-to market initiatives and the ongoing marketing programs around the Enterprise software products. It’s always one thing to build a kick ass software product which the market wants but the success of market adoption of the product and the ability of sales team to convert it into positive selling opportunities greatly depends on how the marketing is handled for the product. I see that in the Enterprise software realm more importance is given to the product quality alone (ex. features, packaging, UX, etc) instead on the importance of the product marketing to clearly identify, understand, serve and satisfy the market.
If you look back at Microsoft and what Bill Gates did to take the company to where it is today, Microsoft became the market leader not because of better products they had then but because of better marketing. Look at how consumers are fascinated with Apple products these days. It’s because Apple has done an excellent job in understanding what its consumers want.
We all know that the ultimate marketing secret weapon for all products whether its consumer based products or enterprise software products, is to make the consumers/buyers/customers understand the Unique Selling Proposition(USP) of a product. But as per the old school of thinking the USP always revolves around 4 Ps which is Product, Price, Place & Positioning. Based on my observation of the consumer products and comparing that to Enterprise software products, continuing the USP marketing strategy on the 4P approach for Enterprise software will not been very effective in the long run and definitely needs a paradigm shift.
The paradigm shift around marketing Enterprise software should now involve emphasis from Products to Solutions, Place to Access, Price to Value and Positioning to Education. The new school of thought calls it the SAVE approach of Product Marketing (see the latest Harvard Business Review magazine article “Rethinking the 4 P’s”)
Here is what Product Marketing need to do:
- Instead of focusing on defining the product features start to highlight what are the solutions that buyers/customers can build with the product to address their business issues. This would require a good understanding of the buyer’s persona and what their pain points
- Focus on addressing the end to end experience that the buyer/customer will have to get access to the Product instead of focusing only on the packaging and downloading aspects of the product
- Articulate the benefits that the products will offer by solving their business issue and providing a realistic expectation on the ROI instead of focusing on the price and the competitive differentiators alone.
- Invest in resources that will tailor and provide better education of the product to the buyers so the end to end experience of the product from purchase to deployment to maintenance of the Enterprise software is a pleasant experience for the buyer and the customer that you are targeting in specific markets.
Sooner the Product Marketing team adopts the SAVE way of thinking, the better it would be for the overall growth and success of Enterprise software products!!.
The article in the recent HBR magazine on how How People Really Use Mobile opened up my mind to validate how I use my smart phone on a daily basis. This also made me to look into this topic further to see if I could connect the dots between the mobile consumer behavior and the technology product gaps that I specifically see that we need to pay attention to in the mobile space.
How are consumers using a Mobile Device:
Based on a industry research study called “Seven Shades of Mobile” conducted by InsightsNow for AOL and BBDO, the data show that 68% of consumers’ smartphone use happens at home. For a typical mobile user the common activity is not shopping or socializing but engaging in what researchers at BBDO and AOL are calling it the “me time.”.
Also checkout some additional interesting facts and case studies about brand messaging through mobile apps in this webinar “Seven Shades of Mobile: The Hidden Motivations of Mobile Users
What are the Technology product gaps for the mobile consumer market?.
The mobile growth trend is here to stay. If you want to know how big the mobile market is, take a look at the stats here. Based on the “Me time” data from I mentioned above, it is important that the technology vendors pay attention to the market needs in the following technology space so they can build value added solutions and products to address the market need of the mobile users.
1. App Development Tools
- Mobile consumers will use mobile apps to purchase goods and services, do banking and billing, to do in-store kiosk transactions, support mobile portals, apps for education and training, apps for games and entertainment.
- The app development tools should be simple and flexible so the apps are built once and can be used on multiple mobile devices to support portability and interoperability.
2. Security Tools
- Mobile user’s identity and privacy will have to be safe guarded at all times. So the security tools/solutions should protect user’s identity information as well his data on the mobile device and during transactions over the network.
3. User Management and Metering Tools
- Better management tools will help to encourage mobile users to get comfortable and help improve their confidence to do more business transactions on the device.
- Metering Tools that will help users to track, analyse and monitor their data, transactions and quality of service over a period of time.
4. Advertising and Messaging Tools
- Need better tools to engage and educate mobile users to the brands, value and benefits, accessibility of products and help with personalize data based on consumer’s usage trend and habits.
5. Data Management Tools
- User data could be of several forms like the identity data, application data, their search data, user’s contextual data, etc. This data will grow overtime and needs to be managed effectively so they are backed up and archived timely so no data is lost and can be will be used as a knowledge base for future use.
Time to innovate and be creative!