The impact of the Digital economy on Product Management to date:
To understand the impact of the digital economy on Product Management, it is important to understand the impact of the digital economy on our purchasing patterns. Product Management and Product Marketing is changing because consumers are changing the way they purchase items. Simonsen and Rosen in 2014 suggest that historically consumers would rely upon prior references from marketing materials or product advertising. However, in this digital age customers purchasing patterns have moved to other references. These other references are:
- Written user reviews (Which best buy guides)
- Friend and expert opinions
- Price comparison tools
- Emerging technologies
The most powerful example of how purchasing patterns have changed is the shopping platform Amazon in a business to consumer (B2C) environment. When performing a search on Amazon when products are shown there is always a star rating to the right of the block on screen with numbers of reviews available. This is an incredibly important feature when shopping online as unlike traditional in shop purchasing where you can inspect goods you an only see the images of them on the internet. The review helps the consumer understand details of the product quality without having to inspect it.
This change in the way that products are purchased and reviewed has had a huge impact on the role of the Product Manager. Rather than having to rely on market survey’s to get an understanding of features that may be required in the future and whether or not customers may be willing to pay for them the customer reviews provide a direct insight into customer thinking, what they like and don’t like in a project, features they were disappointed that were not available.
In a Business to business environment (B2B) the Digital Economy has made working internationally far easier. Customer relationship management systems (CRM’s) like Sales Force provide a picture of the flow through the sales funnel that was previously unavailable. With the additional artificial intelligence (AI) capability of Einstein:
Using tools like this allows the Product Management team to assess how tactics used to increase leads are performing and why they may not be. If you compare this to 10-15 years ago this would only have been confirmed verbally by the business’ the products are being sold to. By being able to see what is happening with the leads being sent through to the other business units it is possible to assess and manage their performance and guage whether further training is required.
How future changes in the Digital Economy will further change the role of Product Management:
One of the challenges that Product Managers can face when working in an international B2B environment is giving product training to the number of customers who need it. Especially if you have a global coverage it can be a really tough, on time for you and your customers. How is this typically best achieved currently? There are a couple of methods which provide some negatives.
- Travel to each country in a region to deliver training to the individual business units.
- This is very time consuming and prevents you from being able to focus on other important tasks i.e. new product development, product lifecycle management.
- Very expensive arranging flights to various countries and also hotel visits.
- Arrange a single in a region training session which all the dealers have to attend.
- Again very expensive. Cost to dealers in terms of capital spend and also not having their sales force on the floor selling.
A way around this in the future could be using a form of augmented reality or virtual reality training courses which provide the sales teams with the content they require but allows them to interact with the equipment virtually as well to get a better grasp of its features and benefits. This would save time and resource as well as finance of arranging training in an international location. The cost of shipping product would also be reduced.
We spoke earlier in the blog about how customer feedback on sites like Amazon.com have impacted the way Product and marketing teams get feedback on products and their use by giving direct access to the customers. This could be pushed further with because of the increasing connectivity provided by the internet of things. If this could be combined with AI to provide feedback on actual usage patterns of products which can be sent back to the company via a mobile sim or connection to wifi. This type of information would prove invaluable to new product development or product upgrades. However, it must be considered that the collection of data in this way should be done with caution as there could be some ethical considerations which need to be made about how much and what data is suitable for collection especially with GDPR now in force.
The last topic we will discuss which has already been touched upon but could in the future be furthered is CRM’s with AI. It would save Product and marketing teams huge amounts of time on lead management and the assessment of the success of product promotional tactics with the enhancement of AI associated with a CRM. If the CRM could use AI and bots to manage the sales funnel and only pass on end of funnel mature leads to the sale teams this would be hugely beneficial to the whole sales process.
Thanks for taking the time to read my first blog. Please feel free to comment below.
Rosen, E. & Simonsen, I. (2014, February 04). How the digital age re-writes the book on consumer behaviour. [Weblog]. Retrieved from.
Stanford Graduate School of Business. (2013, December 11). Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen: Absolute Value[Video
file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ium7lqFEKZA&feature=youtu.be
Salesforce. (2019). Einstein Analytics Products. Retrieved January 19, 2019 from https://www.salesforce.com/products/einstein-analytics/products/
Dzyre, N. (2017). Lady in 3D modeling glasses. Retrieved from https://www.hongkiat.com/blog/augmented-reality-smart-glasses/