The challenge of data-driven product management

Data-driven product management

We talk a lot about the ongoing shift towards data and insight literacy in customer facing roles, but what about product management? As the conduit between customers, developers, sales, marketing and customer success, product managers are increasingly using data and insight to fuel decision making.

Gone are the days when they relied solely on gut instinct and internal white-boarding sessions to hammer out ideas. Likewise remaining competitive means product managers can no longer be reactive, which in a B2B world can sometimes happen if businesses prioritise their development activities based largely on requests from individual customers for bespoke solutions, only later considering how the new product or solution can be rolled out to others.

In today’s data-driven market, Product Managers need to take an objective look at:

  • Usage data from existing products and services, to understand which features are delivering value (and which aren’t)
  • Purchasing trends, to understand exactly what type of customer has higher propensity to purchase
  • Buyer personas and the types of customer they want or need to attract
  • Market demographics – gaps in the market, market fit, size and value of demand
  • Specific problems each customer segment needs to solve and how the product can help them
  • User feedback on existing products and those elsewhere in the market
  • Wider discussions on social media, blogs and forums relating to the company’s products

Product managers play a crucial role in ensuring insights gathered from customers and the wider market are fed back into the company’s development processes – this will ultimately result in products and services that deliver more of what customers need.

Given this, it’s just as important for product managers to have access to market insights tools which allow them to monitor information and insights from a wide range of sources, as it is for sales and marketing professionals.

Armed with the high quality, up-to-the-minute insights on customer needs, product managers will be able to excel at the key activities needed to be successful, such as:

  • Road-mapping to organise and prioritise strategy and release schedules
  • Customer mapping to understand what problems need to be solved, and the type of customer to be targeted
  • Feature planning to understand which are essential to success, and which will complicate the process and should be deprioritised from the roadmap, or removed from the product if already live
  • Customer journey planning and user analysis to understand the impact of the product, how customers will use and interact with it, in what circumstances and how frequently
  • Sales and marketing planning to provide customer facing teams with the information they need to deliver an aligned and well-orchestrated promotion strategy

Product Managers have a vital role to play in pulling together the business and getting everyone focused.

A proactive, insight-driven approach ensures that they are focussing their efforts in the right places, developing and bringing to market products and features in tune with, and ahead of customer needs, providing the business with an informed view as to what’s required in the next quarter, the next year and beyond.

And finally informing marketing and sales planning and campaign development – all with a greater degree of confidence.