Regardless of industry expertise, a single person should never determine the future of a product. Too often, an industry veteran with a good idea becomes a leader looking to build the product they never had. But, they don’t turn to research to understand what that product should be. They use their experience, relationships and now executive authority to produce product requirements. For some, it works.
For most, their rhetoric leads to data-less decision making.
At one time I was involved with a newly acquired company flush with financial backing and a team of bright-eyed developers, sales staff and product owners. All whom were ready to make these products the next paradigm shift in an immature marketplace. A perfect opportunity to create a product of real value.
Products should be the voice of your customers made manifest.
But, we made all of our product requirements from interactions between the CEO’s old Business Manager (now an advisor to the new owners) and a potential customer who wouldn’t be utilizing our full product range. The entire product was built around the opinions a potential customer and an industry insider’s casual understanding of our technically complicated products. The executive staff was reassured because these advisors are experts in this market, right?
After nearly a year of overtime, the team put forth a product that was the culmination of thousands of hours and millions of dollars of development. Our customer advisory board – comprised of actual users – was less than impressed. Nearly half of the product team with entrenched product knowledge quit. This left the sales department wondering if they were willing to try and brave the market with a sub-par product.
There are many examples like this out there, and for some reason the business world continues to reinforce this behavior. Experience is valid, and advisors and industry experts can help shape a product and company for the better.
But an agnostic, data-driven strategy for product development is as important to the success of your product as a solid development team, strong leadership or financial stability.
Investing in market research and effective user research provides clear, unbiased guidance to those who will be building your organization’s future. Armed with the right data, your product and engineering teams can do amazing things. Product owners will have confidence in their interactions with development. Development will be happy knowing that what they are building will help customers achieve their goals. It’s a win-win.
Wield your research well and the rest of the product lifecycle will follow in turn.
Accomplice specializes in creating consumer experiences for today’s brands – from digital to physical spaces. Visit our website to learn more about the Accomplice team.