Had some great conversations with the workshop attendees on how PM teams are incorporating social media into their customer and market intelligence (including, but not limited to, requirements). Thanks to all who attended.
Interestingly, we spent a good deal of time talking about the type of questions people ask. In trying to make sense of both social media and PM deliverables, I made a distinction between problem-centric questions, which center on the customer, and product-centric questions, which (as the name implies) focus on the vendor's products and services.
In the technology industry, people are far more used to posing product-centric questions. Gradually, companies are learning the importance of the problem-related questions. However, it's easy to slip from one into the other. It reminds me of how I used to struggle with guitar fingering. As a novice player, I would concentrate for a while on keeping my fingers straight on the frets. Inevitably, as I started to think about other things (strumming, rhythm, etc.), I'd start to roll my fingers slightly to the side, which made it harder to hit the notes I was trying to reach.
For anyone interested in using social media as a resource for product requirements, persona development, use cases, and other customer insights, the workshop on this topic is scheduled for later this month.
The goal is to give you specific, practical guidance that you can use the day after the workshop. Therefore, I'm asking attendees to bring examples of their current challenges in gaining customer insights, from either a product management or product marketing perspective. We'll use those scenarios during some hands-on exercises.
Here's the link to the workshop, if you're interested. Space is limited, and based on the number of questions I get about this topic, it should be a lively session.
In this week's Heretech podcast, I spoke with Alex Bender of Archer Technologies about the role the Archer community plays in the development process, all the way through the release. If you click the thumbnail shown below, you'll see their process in graphic detail. While Alex and I didn't get into all the specifics of how they do it, we did cover most of their "social product management" approach in the podcast.
Among other interesting aspects of how they use their community as a resource for innovation and adoption, the role of partners really stands out. Of course, in the governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) space, you have an ecology of partners who are experts in things like Sarbanes-Oxley and risk management best practices. They'll tell you in plenty of detail why your product isn't really doing the job it should as a GRC tool.
In October, I'm doing a workshop in the Foster City office about social media for product teams. How can social media fill in the gaps left by traditional requirements? Which social media outlets should you use to answer particular questions? What skills and investments are required? What's the tangible business benefit?
A big part of the workshop is hands-on experience with the questions your team faces. Bring an example of a burning question that the product team needs to answer (e.g., What's the impact of dropping this feature? Is our product a good fit for similar business problems in other markets?), and we'll explore how to use social media to find substantive, useful answers quickly.
For more details, click here. Also, in a couple of weeks, colleague Laura Ramos is doing a workshop, "Making B2B Marketing Work," that chock full of useful content.
If someone had stuffed me into the trunk of a car and driven to a remote location in the Sierras, I could not have been more out of touch with the outside world than I was for a good chunk of the last week. As I mentioned earlier, I had two major projects to do on a short deadline, with barely enough time to finish them. Practically all other priorities went out the window, including (sadly) blogging and podcasting.
One of the projects covered exactly the same topic as a recent post, "Beware of the naked man," about differences in social media behavior across different demographic segments. The client wanted us to profile the same roles in different industries. Where did they go in Social Media Land, and what were they doing there?
The "inbound social media" research grew to massive proportions, then underwent mitosis to become three separate documents, because it's difficult to encapsulate the discipline of using social media. Like any new field, social media are fraught with both opportunity and risk.
In the particular application that I was investigating, social media as a new source of requirements data, people can commit the same mistakes with this new source of information as they have with the old ones. For example, important players in the product development process often make decisions based on the customer with whom they last spoke. An equally common temptation is to listen to customers who echo what you want to hear, and disregard the rest.
All three parts of the series on social media as a new source of requirements data are now published. The first shows how product teams can use social media to create reach more accurate conclusions than traditional sources of requirements (customer visits, enhancement requests, customer advisory boards, etc.) alone can provide.
The second document distills the lessons learned from attempts to use social media in this "inbound role" into a methodology, PLOT (persona, location, options, test). Since the choice of which social media can best answer particular kinds of questions isn't immediately obvious, I devoted the third document to that topic alone.
During the research for this series, it became glaringly obvious that there is a major dividing line in the type of information that product teams collect and analyze:
Some recent statistics on Twitter show how the reality can be more convincing that the hype. Do we never learn that the eye-rolling, "Oh my God it's going to change the world" enthusiasm for a new technology buries that technology's real success in an avalanche of hyperbole?
Google's announcement about the Chrome OS raises a whole lotta questions about the future of the operating systems market, or what an operating system really is, or how the Chrome OS fits into Google's larger strategy. As interesting as these questions may be, we also have very little foundation on which to answer them.
I have a much longer post here about the reasons why we can't reach any conclusions yet. Here's the short version:
Netbooks, which play a significant role in the prospects for Chrome OS, can be both a blessing and a curse.
You could say the same thing about the degree to which the Chrome OS depends on the Chrome browser.
Users may not see the compelling reasons to use this new platform, or even understand it fully.
Governments may not be thrilled about the implications for competition and privacy.
There's still a lot of murkiness about cloud computing in general that this does nothing to dispel.