Als “Product Hunt Product #4 of December 2017” ist das sicher keiner der heissen Tips. Product Manual ist aber trotzdem für jeden Produkt-Manager eine Erwähnung wert, weil sich zu allen relevanten Themen in der kuratierten Sammlung dort etwas findet. Angefangen von der Definition von Produkt-Management über Benutzer-Interaktion (Umfragen!) und Prototypen bis zur Strategie-Entwicklung.
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One important aspect of the implementation of product management roles and organisation, is the engineering partnership. The other day I found Julia Austins article on the topic that also touched the realistic options. To re-cap, these are either market oriented or engineering oriented. Either of these have their Pros and Cons.
My few thoughts on these two approaches:
Product Management driven Product development – While this indeed seems to be the more traditional approach, in which a “Product Manager” collects customer requirements. Nevertheless, it’s not necessarily a setup that is favourable for Waterfall development, nor is waterfall something favourable as as such for software development. It allows an organisation to maintain the customer focus through a dedicated person, that is incentivised differently than engineering.
Engineering driven Product development – This is an approach you can read a lot about from big tech companies recently. It requires a team that is well into the field the product shall serve, which often enough is not the case. In particular large and diversified companies will struggle to give find the right people at the right time, whereas smaller, growing companies can hire for the sharply defined purpose.
An compromise approach is sure the PM<>Engineering partnership to overcome the shortcoming, and the responsibility to maintain a customer focus is on the PMs shoulders
Die Wikipedia definiert ein Produkt folgendermaßen:
In der Praxis wird ein Produkt viel zu häufig als ein Ergebnis verstanden, das am Ende des Produktionsprozesses steht. Eins der größten Hindernisse für die Digitalisierung ist dieser Gedankengang, denn damit wird die Möglichkeit einer Dienstleistung häufig ausgeschlossen.
Gerade im traditionell produzierenden Gewerbe ist die Erwartungshaltung häufig, man müsse Apps herstellen, wie Produkte von einem Band laufen. Der Kunde kauft aber keine Glühbirne, sondern beispielsweise die Möglichkeit einen Mehrwert-Dienst in Anspruch nehmen zu können.
Je nach Produktgruppe unterscheiden sich die Möglichkeiten für Dienstleistungen natürlich sehr grundlegend. Vom traditionellen Produkt unterscheiden sie sich aber all dadurch, dass sie mit der Auslieferung nicht abgeschlossen sind.
Digitalisierung ist umgekehrt auch kein Enabler für Dienstleistungen, das gab es auch früher schon. Aber Digitalisierung eröffnet Möglichkeiten Kundenfeedback zu sammeln, zu verarbeiten, in Kontext zu setzen und nutzbar zu machen. Jede folgende Generation eines Produktes kann mittels diesem Feedback besser gestaltet werden und jede Dienstleistung kann zu einer besseren Kundenzufriendenheit führen.
Wenn der Kunde sich verstanden fühlt.
Digitalisierung ist als Schlagwort allgegenwärtig. Trotzdem bedeutet es nichts anderes als grundlegende, marktwirtschaftliche Kunden- bzw. Marktorientierung. Lediglich die Geschwindigkeit, die notwendig ist, als Marktteilnehmer mit sich ändernden Marktsituationen auseinanderzusetzen stellt besonders große Organisationen vor eine Herausforderung.
Organisation wird in der Regel mit dem Ziel gebildet, um ein Produkt oder einen Service einer breiteren Kunden-Gruppe anbieten zu können und damit Skaleneffekte zu erzielen. Ein fertig entwickeltes, bestehendes Angebot wird in der Regel industriell gefertigt, von einer horizontal skalierten und auf das Angebot geschulten Salesforce vertrieben. Alle Abläufe zu Herstellung und Vertrieb genau dieses Produktes können gemessen und hinsichtlich Kosten und Gewinn optimiert werden. Das ist auch, was anerkannte Business Schulen in der Regel lehren.
Innovation dagegen findet häufig in einem technischen Zusammenhang statt, mit einem herangehen, in dem zwar die Idee und das Ziel feststehen, noch nicht aber alle Schritte feststehen die zu diesem Ziel führen können. In einem kreativen Chaos, das es erlaubt, werden auf dem Weg kurzfristige Richtungsänderungen umgesetzt, das Ziel stets vor Augen.
Es ist nicht in das Korsett starrer “Business Prozesse” eingebunden. Die bestehenden Prozesse sind in der Regel auch langsam entstanden, führen aber zu anderen Zielen. Organisation und Innovation finden mit unterschiedlichen Zielen statt.
Digitalisierung fordert aber beides von Wettbewerbern, die im Markt bestehen wollen und Ihren Kunden passende, innovative Lösungen anbieten möchten. Das fordert ein Umdenken in beiden Bereichen.
“Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast” is a quote that is often attributed to Peter F. Drucker, but was apparently coined by Ford’s Mark Fields. Whoever said it, both have plenty of business acumen to take some credit for the thought behind it. There statement has lot of truth in it, looking into corporate structures.
With the arrival of digitalisation it is more true than ever before. All verticals struggle with fundamentally changing markets, forcing them to innovate in technology and services, and strive for new business models. In this environment it is crucial to embrace change, which enterprise culture often outright rejects.
Change Management has been a topic in management and HR for many years, and never has been so fundamental to organisational success as it is nowadays. Technology is converging at a breathtaking pace. The Internet of Things, as an example, requires electrical & mechanical engineers to cooperate with computer scientists and data analysts to produce a product a usability engineer designed jointly with a designer. Fundamentally different schools of though define the success of a product, and even consumer and enterprise grade of products converge in their appearance.
At the same time, the technologic ecosystem has outgrown individual organisations capabilities. Partnerships with technology vendors require management while intellectual property needs defence at the same time.
Organisations develop anti-patterns like “Silo Thinking” or “Not invented here” syndrome. While these cultural behaviours are tolerable in less dynamic situations, their effect can quickly go out of bounds and create a substantial counterforce to any change infused through external factors.
Embracing an open ecosystem and building on technologies developed outside the own organisation are fundamental to innovation. This open mindset is a prerequisite for any change into agility. Any strategy aiming for change ignoring these behaviours will be eaten by this exact culture. For breakfast.
Again. Having read the few words from yesterday, it’s probably difficult to follow. So, let me try a bit more structured to write up on the points I was trying to make are:
- Product and Service Business are different cultures.
- Both have established methods.
- Digitisation requires Digital Transformation.
- Digital Transformation won’t happen without a conscious decision.
- Digitised Products need to consider both.
Product vs. Services Business
This is the part with the margins. While the first lives off high enough margins in the retail chain, the later lives off customer satisfaction, with basically very thin margins.
Things require a stock and supply chain. A service requires time to response and time to resolution. Or response time, for interactive services. And so do physical projects require different management methods than services do.
Digitisation requires Digital Transformation
Putting a chip in it is not the single answer to achieve Digital Transformation. It requires to combine product and services business and that process is the actual transformation people are looking at.
Digital Transformation won’t happen without a conscious decision
Very much as #3, just putting a chip into a product will not be sufficient, because the product will work so much different than before and the customers expectations will not be the same either. However, it requires a component that contradicts traditional management behavior as well as financial expectations. Therefore, somebody high enough will have to take a decision and carry it until Digital Transformation happens.
Digitised Products need to consider both
And so, finally, a digitise product needs to be managed with services and the tangible parts in mind. While a product is produced, a service is operated. The product will have development cycles that are much longer and the supply chain needs to be managed, while at the same time the service attached to the product needs to work to the customers expectations and evolve much different.
Now the family left me here for the afternoon, I have some time to exercise blogging and put down a few thoughts on my recent job. To write in a cosy environment, a lit the fireplace at the house we are staying in. The result is as favourable as you may imagine. Only the missing bear fur could add to the feeling. The role in marketing, “Product Management”, hasn’t been that cosy recently, for a few reasons, that are more related to corporate behaviour than to individual contribution.
While I will need to avoid mentioning the actual product I am still working on, and it’s probably difficult even not to have any references, the below still tries to explain the tensions that exist in the world of traditional industry, moving towards a digitalised service business, in which tangible products get marginalised.
The primary reason for me, an computer engineer, having spent all his life in service business and so to say “in the cloud“, to come to a marketing oriented role is to design and develop – as in business, not as in a computer programming – a connected product. The Internet of Things, if you want to. Whereas many companies have Things already. But they want to offer smarter things, that’s why everything gets connected. Now connectivity has to offer many benefits over traditional products, but they’re not the primary value proposition the customer pays for. The customer still pays for the product. And in the market, any customer will ask for the smartest product available. Just like I wanted to light a fire. One that was good and warm, and keep my cosy. And to do so, I had to collect some pinecones, that would easily catch fire. It was bothersome, but necessary.
The things industry is not very familiar with service offerings. It’s actually something fundamentally different from the internet or services industry. To put it boldly, what a customer expects from a product: something solid. And what a customer expects from a service: something that is available anytime. (Like, literally, in the middle of the night!). While Things are sold physically and can be produced on stock, a service cannot be hold until the customer asks for it. Value through a service is created by making something more convenient. I’d have paid somebody to cut and carry the wood required to light a fire. But I had to do it myself, and that was not only tiring but also heavy work. While, as a customer, the thing I’d buy is the wood, I would spend a premium for somebody to do the work. To add the service. Probably not much, but hey. The same happens for businesses. While still everybody produces products, the more convenient products are in the customers favour, only at a small margin, though. Just to make an example, just recently Oracle, a business to a majority based on the sales of products, databases, announced to acquire Accenture, a consultancy service, to add services to it’s portfolio. Others have doubts this merger makes sense, exactly for the above reason. Margin driven things companies will have a difficult time appreciating low margin service as part of their portfolio.
Just like me. I wanted to sit in front of a warm fire when spending my time without the family. It’s very clear I’d need pinecones and wood to get that, and I’d pay for it. However, if some other guy selling wood sells cut wood and carries it to my house for a fee, I’d probably appreciate that more convenient offer. But that decision has to be made very conscious, and people responsible for the service in that organisation can’t be measured on financial goals as their product colleagues, but customer satisfaction.
Docker announced version 1.10 past week. The new release contains more than 100 improvements over the previous version. New features include better resource management, a more flexible docker-compose file format and improvements to security. These are in particular through user namespace isolation, implementation of seccomp for syscall filtering and an authorization plugin to restrict access to Docker engine features.
We’re pleased to announce Docker 1.10, jam-packed with stuff you’ve been asking for. It’s now much easier to define and run complex distributed apps with Docker Compose. The power that Compose brou…