What is Business Agility?

Feb 11 9:28:51 by rgalen.com

I was approached to speak at a startup event for a local Business Agility Institute user group here in the Raleigh/Durham area. I was quite pleased to be approached and am more than willing to present an agile topic to the group.  But the request made me think… I’ve been engaged in agile approaches for nearly twenty years. So, I have quite a lot of experience with the core methods, practices, scaling, agile leadership, cultures, etc. But what the heck is “Business Agility” and what sorts of topics would that group be interested in? The answer escaped me and I realized I had to do some research. Basic Definitions Here’s what CA (Rally Software) had to say regarding a definition and 3 key aspects: A company’s way to sense and respond to change proactively and with confidence to deliver business value—faster than the competition—as a matter of everyday business. 1.     It’s making the customer the central focus of your organization 2.     It’s driving value faster, better, and more efficiently 3.     It’s transforming how your business operates to achieve successful outcomes

#1   21%      2
Onboarding for business: How to help groups of users find success

Feb 1 17:00:20 by contrast

Onboarding a company to your product is different from onboarding an individual user. It requires many people across departments to get setup and start seeing the value your product can provide. If you sell your product to businesses and haven’t designed your onboarding to support groups of people, you’re likely asking people to complete tasks they’re not capable of or lack the permissions to do. As your company grows and starts selling to larger companies, rethinking how your onboarding helps groups of people work together will have a greater impact than optimizing an existing step-by-step flow designed for individuals. Onboarding for one breaks down for many Your beautiful, linear sequence of onboarding steps might work well for individual users, but teams behave unpredictably. So as larger companies start using your product, instead of just asking “How many people made it from step A to step B?”, you might start asking different questions, such as: Why would someone in a group be unable to complete this step? Who in their company might be able to help them? What is blocking them from asking for help? We’ve asked ourselves these questions as Intercom has grown. Our customers have become increasingly diverse in size, which has impacted the order in which we previously expected common actions to be done. “Great onboarding acknowledges that different groups of people take very different paths to get started” Early on the vast majority of our customers were small startups and our onboarding reflected that – it was designed to help one engineer install a JavaScript snippet. But our customer base is no longer confined to small startups – we have to onboard companies there will be undoubtedly more than one person required to code, authorize integrations and teach teams how to use our products. We’ve learned that great onboarding acknowledges that different groups of people take very different paths to get started, and gives them multiple paths for them to progress as a team. Designing predictable steps for unpredictable groups The mistake most companies make is trying to model their onboarding as an ordered series of steps. They have a very definite idea of what steps should be completed in what order. This single linear sequence of steps quickly breaks down for groups of people. Not convinced? Consider you’re building an iPad app for a reception desk that lets guests sign in and notifies employees when they arrive. In order to be set up, a new customer might need to: Sign up for an account Enter a credit card to start a trial Authorize Google Apps access to get employees email addresses Add a legal document or NDA for visitors to sign Place the iPad in a stand at the front desk Completing all of these requires participation from: Someone with access to a company credit card Someone with administrative access to the Google Apps account Legal counsel Office manager(s) or receptionist(s) At a very small company, this could be just two to three people. At a larger company, it could be dozens. Let’s see what happens if you make the mistake of modeling these steps in a linear way. Sign up for an account Enter a credit card to start a trial Authorize Google Apps access to get employees email addresses Add a legal document or NDA for visitors to sign Place the iPad in a stand at the front desk If someone without a company credit card signs up, they’ll be stuck on step 2. The same holds for the rest of the steps – the potential for failure is massive. Who has permissions to connect Google Apps? Who knows our lawyer’s email? Who has the stand for the iPad? Who is it I can ask for the credit card again? “If the only person at a company who can complete your onboarding is the busiest person, with the least time, you have a problem” Modeled in this way, as a blocking sequence of steps, there’s only one person at the company who could complete every step, unassisted – the CEO. And if the only person at a company who can complete your onboarding is the busiest person, with the least time, you have a problem. We had a similar problem at Intercom as we grew. Early on, in order to sign up for an account, we made people add a code snippet or import data from a CSV or third-party service. In some ways, this was a good thing – we were able to show customers Intercom working on their own website or app right away. But it also meant we blocked anyone who couldn’t add a code snippet or import data from doing anything else. Once we changed this to allow anyone to create an account right away, and then add a code snippet or data import afterwards, more people were able to make more progress through our onboarding. Onboarding checklist for companies Since it’s hard to predict who will do each task, or which order tasks will be completed in, designing onboarding means designing for a moving target. It requires the humility to know that it will never be perfect. This is especially true for a growing company, whose customers are increasingly diverse and often get larger overtime. That said, we’ve found three strategies that work for dealing with the unexpected paths our customers take in the onboarding process. 1. Provide an escape hatch While you have a new customer’s attention, allow them to accomplish as much as they are capable of or have permission to do, right away. “It’s almost always better to let people keep moving and exploring” It’s hard to recapture this attention, especially to do something boring like enter a credit card or create an API key. So while you have their attention, provide ways for them to skip to other steps they can accomplish. Remember, it’s almost always better to let people keep moving and exploring. The conversion rate lost on one small step is made up by the customer’s overall progress and comprehension of what your product has to offer. 2. Unblock steps with invites You should presume that not everyone will have the ability or permission to complete every step, and provide ways for users to invite the people they need to help them. Prompting people to invite coworkers means asking the customer to give up some of their social capital – you’re asking them to ask another person for a favor, to take time to set up an account and learn something new. That’s why it’s important to provide some context – explain why someone is receiving an invite and what they’ve been asked to do. And while it might look old-school, providing links can give people more direct control over how they choose to invite others. 3. Identify and empower an onboarding leader Without organization and leadership, groups of people have a natural entropy – people disagree, have different priorities and get less done. Chances are, trying out your product is the last thing on the roadmap, and not even something everyone agrees on. “The solution here doesn’t always start with building more software or writing code” When someone tries your product, it’s your job to find a leader and empower them to organize their team around getting setup with your product. The solution here doesn’t always start with building more software or writing code. At Intercom, identifying and empowering an onboarding leader starts with our sales team. Sales teams traditionally try to find the “champion” in a company, the person willing to fight through obstacles to adopt a new product and close the deal. If you’re responsible for your product’s onboarding, you can learn a lot by finding out what questions your sales team use to identify champions, and also the resources they provide to help them convince others on their team. Flexible onboarding adapts as you grow When it comes to onboarding, it’s easy to think everyone will follow the linear paths you’ve wireframed. But groups of people rarely follow such neat paths. Instead, you should assume at each step of your onboarding that the task at hand may be someone else’s job. That way, you can build a flexible onboarding that adapts to different kinds of people, and support larger companies too. Excerpted from Intercom on Onboarding: The post Onboarding for business: How to help groups of users find success appeared first on Inside Intercom.

#2   6%      1
Why Product Thinking is the Future for Product Management

Feb 12 12:30:00 by www.mindtheproduct.com

I believe the future of product management is product thinking. And product coaching is how we get there. I have worked with in product for most of my career. Building products for big corporates, small startups and scale-ups. Mostly I have been on the consulting side, meaning I have always had to hand over what I have built to someone else. What I have seen, is that both startups and big corporates have issues in understanding how to be more product-led without the right mindset and framework. Just adding more product managers, is not the answer. We are a nuanced bunch and I don’t think this is going to scale in the future The Hypothesis In 2015, Martin Eriksson wrote an article about the history of product management. He said: This may, in time, require fewer people called product managers in a company, but it puts even more emphasis on the importance of the craft of product management. Our understanding of our craft has come a long way since 2015. I believe that it is now a good time to evolve product management into product thinking. A philosophy, mindset, a common knowledge. But primarily, something that can be acquired by anyone in the organisation. The people in charge and at the forefront of this change will be product coaches. They will be the custodians of product thinking within an organisation, and tasked with getting people, teams, and organisations to become more product led through product thinking. In summary; product management will become product thinking, product managers will become product coaches, and this will lead to organisations being more product led. Design, UX, Agile Have Already Done the Hard Work I spend a lot of time looking at other industries for inspiration in how I can evolve my craft. We can learn from our peers and communities that have already made such a transition. The design, user experience, and agile communities have all evolved from a role and a skillset to something bigger. Design became design thinking through the great work of IDEO, creating a framework and mindset that can be used by everyone. User experience has gone from being a job to a requirement for any product. It’s now a measurement for how good a product is and of how well we do our jobs from a service, design, and product perspective. Agile jumped directly into claiming it was more than a way of working into a mindset, creating frameworks that have completely changed how we operate as teams and as organisations. Being agile is now also something not just a handful of developers can be, but a state that every organisation and team aspires to be. Even if they don’t fully understand it, they all want a piece of it. I see a big opportunity for product management to learn from these communities. Product management can become a “thinking” and a methodology that will be so intertwined with how we run businesses that it will be impossible to avoid. I have given a first go at defining what product thinking is and what I believe product coaching is, and the role it will play in the future of product management. First Part of the Hypothesis: Build the Right Thing, the Right way At Founders Factory, I’ve started to focus on giving businesses tools to try themselves and iterate, rather than holding their hands all the time. This means having more than just the founder involved in learning what product thinking is and becoming more product led. I want the definition of product thinking to encompass more than being the glue that keeps everything together. It should include both the hard skills of creating a strategy and understanding user experience and the soft skills of how to get the best out of a team and stakeholder management. My first stab at a definition is a set of core principles that I believe incorporates these criteria: – Being outcome-focused instead of output-focused – Focus on value creation for my business and for our customers – Thriving in uncertainty through problem-solving – Focus on creating a happy and empowered team and organisation Or it could be put in a sentence: “Thriving in uncertainty and problem solving to achieve business and customer value through scalable solutions and continuous delivery with an empowered and happy team.” Or maybe just something simple like: “Build the right thing, the right way.” This is my first version of a definition of what product thinking could be – a set of principles and a simple way to explain it. It needs to evolve from here, and that’s where our community of product people comes in. It should be a living thing, something we all can sign off on and evolve together! Second Part of the Hypothesis: Product Coaching For our craft to evolve and become more scalable, I foresee an organisation where product covers more borders than it does now. Not as a function, but as roaming experts in product thinking, helping everyone to think like product managers and whole organisations becoming more product led. My Coaching Framework At Founders Factory I work with all types of founders and different types and sizes of businesses. I’ve had to put together thoughts and frameworks for myself to scale my support as we grow our portfolio and grow the business.  I have therefore created a coaching framework that I work with for every startup at the Factory. The framework consists of three main parts: – Uncertainty – Empathy – Resilience Uncertainty – for you Thrive in and for People to Embrace At the outset, I try to map the team’s knowledge of product thinking as a whole. This helps me to figure out how much time and what tools to give a founder and a business in order to be as efficient as possible in my job, but also to create a coaching plan for the company. We product managers have always prided ourselves in mastering the ability to thrive in uncertainty. However, how do we get whole teams and organisations to embrace it? Luckily my teacher girlfriend has books and research on getting pupils from the known to the unknown. To help with uncertainty I stole a theory called the Zone of Proximal Development, or “scaffolding” as introduced by Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976) from the teaching profession. For some reason, there seems to be synergy in the behaviour of 12-year-olds and startup teams. It’s simple. You map out the known, let’s say “I know how to make a lasagne” and what is unknown to you – “how to make the best lasagne in the world”. The Zone of Proximal Development is the area where you need guidance to reach the skills you desire. Or if you are a startup founder and you have reached a plateau and need to understand how to achieve better momentum, you might need guidance, or, in this case, product coaching. Empathy – How to Show and use More Understanding, and Install it in Your Team and Business Being empathetic is one thing, but how do you use empathy as part of your product practice? For me, it involves acquiring more knowledge about your business and your customers from a human perspective than one purely based on data. You can also use this to generate more empathy within your organisation as well, for your stakeholders, teams, investors, and so on. I use two main activities: – Empathy Mapping – Product Radical Listening Empathy Mapping is used widely in the design industry as a way to form a clearer picture of what we believe is in our customers’ minds Using the map, you can form an understanding of what customers say, feel, think, etc, and then map your product to meet those needs. You can also use it internally, mapping your team, your stakeholders, your investors, maybe your whole organisation. If your team was a person, how would they think, what would they say, and how can you help with their needs? It’s an excellent way to give everyone – you, the team, customers – a better understanding of each other in business. Product Radical Listening is a straightforward activity that over time can give excellent results. Built on Marshall Rosenberg’s theory about non-interruptive sessions – how to use it is explained in this blog post – you can practise this internally with stakeholders or team members who you feel need to show or have more empathy for what you’re trying to achieve. Set up a weekly meeting with the person you have in mind. You gather data from your team in the form of one-to-ones. This data together with data from customers in whatever way it takes (preferably comments, or interview answers). You then present this data to the person, and don’t allow them to interrupt or talk back. Over time, you will see a change in manner, leadership, and decisions, based on this activity happening continuously. Working with startup founders, this is something I see working very often. Founders are notoriously busy, but also working hard at fundraising, meaning there is little time to get a full understanding of everything happening in the business. Spending an hour doing this repeatedly has helped plenty of businesses and founders I’ve worked with to make better decisions. Building empathy takes many forms. A framework and a few activities will help you to get started and will lead to the whole organisation making better more product lead decisions. It can be as easy as having all team members exposed to customer data and access to stakeholders in the business to understand business goals. Resilience – Being and Creating More Resilient Businesses If you haven’t realised already, getting teams and businesses to become more product led is a repetitive and lengthy process. The best framework I’ve come across is similar to when you create self-organising teams, where the long-term goal is clear and the way to get there is by structured smaller tasks. If we go back to the lasagne, we have mapped out that your Zone of Proximal Development is that you need guidance to reach the skills of making the best lasagne. We need to break it into manageable items for you to get there, maybe watching three Jamie Oliver videos a week or signing up for a cookery course. Long-term goals and smaller tasks in a repeated fashion are how you create more resilience for yourself and for people you coach. For example, as I mentioned earlier, at work I try to get startups into a better place of momentum. Activities for reaching that goal can include playing with the cadence of your development. It might feel you’re moving more quickly if you work to a weekly schedule, while actually you can be more productive working fortnightly. Regular more transparent data sharing with the team and setting regular indicators and metrics are also great ways to create a sense of momentum in teams. Over time, the coaching effort will decrease as product thinking increases. The goal being you not having to be involved at all in the day to day, as they grow their knowledge and you can move your efforts and focus to other parts and people of the business. This is, ultimately, how we scale product management. Becoming an integral part in how to build the best businesses that will create more value for customers. By moving product management to product thinking, product managers to become product coaches and this leads businesses to become more product led. My ask of you I want us as a community to build on the knowledge we have to evolve into what I believe is the most scalable solution to the future of product management. Consider this the start and a hypothesis that will need to be validated, by us, and the businesses and customers we represent. The first step is to define what we believe product thinking is and how we can share it in a way that makes businesses excited by the prospect of being more product led. Excited to hear what you think, so please let me know either through the Mind the Product Slack channel (where I’m @sebsab) or in the comments below. Look forward to hearing from you. The post Why Product Thinking is the Future for Product Management appeared first on Mind the Product.

#3   3%      1
Functionize raises $16 million to automate software testing with AI

Mar 5 14:00:44 by venturebeat.com

San Jose, California-based software automation startup Functionize has raised $16 million in a series A financing round led by Canvas Ventures.Read More

#4   125%      3
Why SaaS growth isn’t just about acquiring new customers

Feb 12 18:00:11 by contrast

Unless your business is transactional, nurturing your existing customers should be just as important as acquiring new logos. The way I see it, closing a deal is just the first step. It’s what comes after – onboarding, upselling and cross-selling, renewal – that determines your customers’ ability to grow with your product and, consequently, the fate of your own growth. The cost of selling SaaS can be pretty high. The median SaaS startup takes 11 months to make back the money spent acquiring a customer. In other words, you need your customers to be satisfied and willing to pay you for nearly a year. Otherwise, you’re losing money on every customer you acquire, which will cause your company to flame out. “If you want to achieve sustainable growth, you have to keep your customers around for as long as possible” That’s why I think it’s so important to have account or relationship managers on your sales team dedicated to building relationships with customers. It’s a difficult job, but an important one. By being a trusted partner to your customers, a good account manager supports your business in three ways: Expansion: Growing accounts that are spending a low amount but have high potential. Retention: Maintaining accounts that are spending a lot and are at the top for growth. Contraction, i.e. monthly spend stability: Fighting to keep customer spend at the same level. If you want to achieve sustainable growth, you have to keep your customers around for as long as possible. The plain truth of the matter is that companies built on recurring revenue can’t afford to treat customers like they’re disposable. This post was excerpted from “The Sales Handbook”. The post Why SaaS growth isn’t just about acquiring new customers appeared first on Inside Intercom.

#5   17%      2
Allianz stockt Startup-Fonds auf eine Milliarde auf

Feb 20 10:23:40 by t3n.de

Die Allianz hat ihren digitalen Investmentfonds für die Beteiligung an hoffnungsvollen Startups auf eine Milliarde Euro mehr als verdoppelt. Nachdem das ursprüngliche Kapital von 430 Millionen Euro inzwischen in 15 Beteiligungen komplett investiert ist, stockt Europas größter Versicherer das Kapital des Allianz X-Fonds auf, wie der Dax-Konzern am Mittwoch mitteilte. „Die Mittel werden für zusätzliche […]

#6   30%      1
Working with Design Thinking, Lean and Agile

Feb 28 18:00:54 by www.sitepoint.com

Design Thinking is the latest buzz phrase to have taken over the business and technology world. In seems like the phrase is popping up in nearly every context. A few years ago, Lean UX was all the rage, following a few years focused on the Lean Startup. A few years before that, every tech company I knew was rushing to implement Agile development processes. Experts like Lou Rosenfeld are already making predictions about what new approaches are coming next. It’s not that any of these approaches have become less useful over time, but people are experimenting with new ways to build products and successful techniques to get attached to as “The Next Big Thing” that will prove to be a magical solution for everyone. The problem is that in the excitement of discussing something new, we don’t always connect the dots of our existing methods and people can be left confused as to how to best implement things all together. Read on to better understand Design Thinking, Lean UX, and Agile, and how to implement elements of each for your team. Before we get too far, let’s take a step back to understand each approach. Agile Let’s be clear: Agile is a software development approach. It was born out of frustration with traditional “waterfall” software practices, with a long period of upfront requirements gathering and design work, then a long development stage of implementing said designs but without the ability to understand or respond to changing needs. The outcome was that teams were spending a long time building things that people didn’t really want or need, and companies were struggling. Software developers started experimenting with new ways to build, and came up with a set of shared values and principles to guide teams to do better work. The official Agile Manifesto was released in 2001, and called for valuing: individuals and interactions over processes and tools working software over comprehensive documentation customer collaboration over contract negotiation responding to change over following a plan The Agile Alliance has also defined 12 detailed principles to follow, but does not prescribe any particular processes, so dev teams often end up using specific frameworks, like Scrum or Kanban, to help them figure out how to organize, plan, and execute their work. There’s a strong focus on teams’ independence to self organize, so no two Agile teams look the same, even within the same departments or organizations. In theory, Agile approaches not only play well with UX practices, but actively require ongoing UX research to constantly understand the changing needs of the customers. However, in practice, teams can get caught up on trying to release more working code faster, and it can be hard to dedicate any time at all to conducting research or focusing on design decisions. Agile teams often struggle with how to best incorporate UX team members and their work into their practices. Lean UX Lean UX was born out of the struggle that so many teams had incorporating UX best practices as they adjusted their development processes to Agile methods and attempted to speed up time from idea to implementation. Lean UX is the umbrella term for altering traditional UX methods to fit faster timeframes, which often means shifting focus away from detailed deliverables. But beware: you may also hear about Lean and Lean Startup, which often get conflated but do have specific meanings and distinct elements. Lean is derived from manufacturing best practices and focuses on general business and management practices to reduce waste and maximize value. Lean Startup is a broader business and product development approach that suggests incorporating periods of experimentation in order to reduce waste and risk. The terms aren’t mutually exclusive but nor are they interchangeable. Back to Lean UX: the core idea is to alter traditional UX design methods to become faster. Rather than spending a lot of time thoroughly designing and documenting each element, the team is meant to quickly and collaboratively visualize ideas and gather feedback as soon as possible, from both other team members and stakeholders and the users. Jeff Gothelf lays out the following Lean UX process: concept, prototype, internal validation, external validation, learn, iterate, and repeat. This process mirrors the “regular” UX process but each step is shortened. Let’s say a team is working on integrating a new feature. The team might first have a quick whiteboarding session to flesh out the core workflow. Once the group agrees on a direction, they can show a low-fidelity design to users and incorporate the feedback found during a joint sketch session where they sort out more interaction details. You’ll notice this example doesn’t have any fully functional prototypes or detailed test reports, but Lean UX isn’t an excuse to skip steps. Rather, it’s an invitation to do just enough to build a shared vision and get feedback, scaling up and back different tools or methods as it makes the most sense for your specific context. Lean UX also doesn’t suggest you completely abandon documentation, nor that the experience decisions are taken away from UX professionals. Rather, it suggests that the whole team is involved with the design process so there are no surprises or unforeseen technical challenges. Feedback is collected early and often, and if changes need to be made, they can be done quickly and easily before much time has been invested in final designs. The post Working with Design Thinking, Lean and Agile appeared first on SitePoint.

#7   21%      1
5 strategies to drive your next wave of growth

Feb 14 14:51:17 by contrast

You often hear great talks about the founding story and how to drive that first phase of growth. At SaaStr, I talked about what happens after that, how you can drive your next phase of growth. When you are starting a business, or joining a new one, you are excited and full of ideas. You probably have a goal in mind. It might be to launch a new product, to define a new category or to hit $1M in revenue. “What you thought was the finish line was actually just the starting line” You work hard and get there, which is amazing! You hit your goal – you launched that new product, defined that new category, hit $1M in revenue. But it turns out, that what you thought was the finish line was actually just the starting line. It turns out there is a lot more work to do. How do you keep growing? Over the years, I’ve learned a lot through both successes and failures, and these are my top 5 strategies in scaling SaaS businesses from $1M to $500M in revenue: Expand your market. Figure out how your product can solve the problem you originally solved, but for a broader set of customers. If you only serve your initial customers, you are stunting your future growth. If you start by serving smaller customers, the best way to expand upmarket is to do that one step at a time. Build your next big product. Your next big product is probably right in front of you. Find it by watching what your customers do, not what they say. Ask yourself: What other important problems do your customers have? Which could you solve well? Find product market fit again and again. It is something you need to keep focused on and find over and over, for every set of new target customers you go after, for every new product you want to create and for everything you’ve already created and every customer you already have, every year or two. Decide your platform play. We live in a deeply interconnected world. You will never win if you choose to go it alone. Your customers don’t want you to go it alone. They want you to work with all of the other things they already use. As you get bigger the reverse is also true: they want all of the other things they use to work with you. Build your team. You can’t do it all yourself. Invest time to build the team to take you to the next level. If you are hiring for a role that you aren’t super familiar with, or at a scale you haven’t been at before, learn and benchmark first. Then apply Lean Startup Principles to hiring by putting people in the role. Have them do the job you want them to do for a day. That way, you both know what you are getting into – it is better for you and for them. Check out the slides from my talk below or on SlideShare: If you want industry-tested advice for growing your company, especially beyond the first phase, download The Growth Handbook: The post 5 strategies to drive your next wave of growth appeared first on Inside Intercom.

#8   11%      1
Product/Market Fit is Failing Because of Your Company Structure

Feb 5 12:23:00 by www.mindtheproduct.com

Did you know that 42% of startups fail because no one wants to buy their product? For corporations, nearly 80% of new products fail each year for the exact same reason. So why are we still developing products no one wants? Product experts have tried to tackle this issue but they gloss over the impact a company’s structure and leadership team have on product/market fit. And variances in industry and company size add complexity to this issue. For many consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, product teams report to marketing, sales, finance, or strategy leads. Whereas, startups and SMBs (small to medium-sized businesses) frequently position their product teams in their own department. Who owns Product/Market fit – Marketing, Sales, or Business? Between us we’ve spent many years at CPG corporations, and we’ve experienced product/market fit owned by sales, business, and marketing leaders. In larger organizations, these three structures have their own issues. When product/market fit is under sales, there’s a tendency to follow the retail buyer’s agenda because they’re motivated to close the sale (think: Walmart electronics line buyer). If your company has strong buyer relationships, you’re placing a lot of trust in those individuals to do what’s best for your company. If your buyers constantly change – which is normal in retail – it’s very risky to rely on buyers to guide your product development. It can be very hard not to push the buyer’s agenda when developing CPG products because of how challenging it is to even get CPG products to market. When product/market fit is owned by business leaders, products are judged by how quickly they can turn a profit. When you’re beholden to shareholders, you’re not inclined to incorporate qualitative research or iterative feedback resulting in products that function but don’t delight consumers. Finally, when product/market fit is owned by marketing, perceived product value frequently drives product development versus research insights. When market and user research isn’t focused on consumer needs, insights can be too broad or irrelevant. Additionally, marketing teams have the tendency to over support existing profitable product lines while new products struggle for research and funding. Different Teams, Different Priorities. But are Those Your Users’ Priorities? When product/market fit is owned by sales, business, or marketing leaders, product teams are forced to execute on biased user needs and market research. As most product teams have experienced, the hardest part of building a user-centric product is prioritizing the product’s value and building viable features and experiences. This sets up product teams as soldiers on an internal battlefield, trying to fight through each cross-functional team’s competing motivations and priorities and how they affect the product value, timing, quality, cost, and market need. Sales teams will fight to build a product that meets the feature or costing requirements set by the buyers. Walmart may want X while Target wants Y, but who do we build for? Usually, the largest account wins because profit – and sales commission – is king. What happens if the research shows consumers want a features that decreases the margin? Business leaders might play it safe and recommend a test run (lower volume order). In stores this has its own challenges because lower volumes make it harder for products to stand out. Finally, timing is a major concern for marketing teams. Consumer engagement and market trends force shorter lead times that can be unrealistic for design and engineering to execute (especially in quickly changing industries like consumer electronics, retail and services). Structuring Success – Identify a Product Leader to own Product/Market fit As companies identify these structural issues, it’s no surprise that a Chief Product Officer is joining C-Suite teams in record numbers. Some of the most successful companies, including Google, CNN, Uber, and Forbes, have recently appointed a CPO. While every company doesn’t have the luxury to hire this position, they can make changes or bring on resources to mitigate structural issues: Internally promote or hire a senior-level product person to own your product development strategy and prioritize cross-functional team needs. Partner with a product management consultancy to manage your product/market research and set up repeatable processes to manage the product lifecycle. Implementing these changes doesn’t mean ignoring product/market fit input from sales, business, or marketing. Rather, it allows those teams to focus on what they do best: sell more products, grow the company, and market the value of your company and products. If this sounds all too familiar, then it’s time to challenge CEOs to stop building products users don’t want. How? Structure your company with a product leader who owns the product/market fit. The post Product/Market Fit is Failing Because of Your Company Structure appeared first on Mind the Product.

#9   7%      1
Why Daimler moved its big data platform to the cloud

Feb 20 11:00:50 by techcrunch.com

Like virtually every big enterprise company, a few years ago, the German auto giant Daimler decided to invest in its own on-premises data centers. And while those aren’t going away anytime soon, the company today announced that it has successfully moved its on-premises big data platform to Microsoft’s Azure cloud. This new platform, which the company calls eXtollo, is Daimler’s first major service to run outside of its own data centers, though it’ll probably not be the last. As Daimler’s head of its corporate center of excellence for advanced analytics and big data Guido Vetter told me, that the company started getting interested in big data about five years ago. “We invested in technology — the classical way, on-premise — and got a couple of people on it. And we were investigating what we could do with data because data is transforming our whole business as well,” he said. By 2016, the size of the organization had grown to the point where a more formal structure was needed to enable the company to handle its data at a global scale. At the time, the buzzword was ‘data lakes’ and the company started building its own in order to build out its analytics capacities. Electric Line-Up, Daimler AG “Sooner or later, we hit the limits as it’s not our core business to run these big environments,” Vetter said. “Flexibility and scalability are what you need for AI and advanced analytics and our whole operations are not set up for that. Our backend operations are set up for keeping a plant running and keeping everything safe and secure.” But in this new world of enterprise IT, companies need to be able to be flexible and experiment — and, if necessary, throw out failed experiments quickly. So about a year and a half ago, Vetter’s team started the eXtollo project to bring all the company’s activities around advanced analytics, big data and artificial intelligence into the Azure Cloud and just over two weeks ago, the team shut down its last on-premises servers after slowly turning on its solutions in Microsoft’s data centers in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. All in all, the actual transition between the on-premises data centers and the Azure cloud took about nine months. That may not seem fast, but for an enterprise project like this, that’s about as fast as it gets (and for a while, it fed all new data into both its on-premises data lake and Azure). If you work for a startup, then all of this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for a more traditional enterprise like Daimler, even just giving up control over the physical hardware where your data resides was a major culture change and something that took quite a bit of convincing. In the end, the solution came down to encryption. “We needed the means to secure the data in the Microsoft data center with our own means that ensure that only we have access to the raw data and work with the data,” explained Vetter. In the end, the company decided to use thethAzure Key Vault to manage and rotate its encryption keys. Indeed, Vetter noted that knowing that the company had full control over its own data was what allowed this project to move forward. Vetter tells me that the company obviously looked at Microsoft’s competitors as well, but he noted that his team didn’t find a compelling offer from other vendors in terms of functionality and the security features that it needed. Today, Daimler’s big data unit uses tools like HD Insights and Azure Databricks, which covers more than 90 percents of the company’s current use cases. In the future, Vetter also wants to make it easier for less experienced users to use self-service tools to launch AI and analytics services. While cost is often a factor that counts against the cloud since renting server capacity isn’t cheap, Vetter argues that this move will actually save the company money and that storage cost, especially, are going to be cheaper in the cloud than in its on-premises data center (and chances are that Daimler, given its size and prestige as a customer, isn’t exactly paying the same rack rate that others are paying for the Azure services). As with so many big data AI projects, predictions are the focus of much of what Daimler is doing. That may mean looking at a car’s data and error code and helping the technician diagnose an issue or doing predictive maintenance on a commercial vehicle. Interestingly, the company isn’t currently bringing any of its own IoT data from its plants to the cloud. That’s all managed in the company’s on-premises data centers because it wants to avoid the risk of having to shut down a plant because its tools lost the connection to a data center, for example.

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