A well-defined product can create an efficient and effective path to success, but defining a product in a digital world can be a complex process. At a high level, it involves understanding the product vision, strategy, roadmap and life cycle, alongside how to optimise user experience and what technology is needed to deliver it.
Though it might seem obvious to cover, it’s worth defining what we mean by a product. In the retail world, a product could refer to anything: the monitor you’re reading this blog on, the mouse you’re using to scroll or the ergonomic office chair supporting your lower back.
In the digital world, what the consumer sees as one product – like Uber, Amazon, or Facebook – is broken down into smaller components and looked after by individual product teams. Facebook’s sections like photos, newsfeed and user profiles are considered features by the user, and products by Facebook’s product managers and teams.
Products can also be broken down in terms of platform, with teams looking after individual components – for example, a product manager and team looking after everything for an Android app with another team assigned to iOS.
Product management is an integral part of supporting products to succeed in the market. It is a business process that involves planning, developing, launching, and managing a product or service, from ideation to development and go-to-market.
The role of a product manager
So who looks after these defined products in the digital world? Product managers hold strategic responsibility for developing successful products and achieving specific goals. How they achieve these outcomes is entirely up to them. Once the strategy is set, project managers are responsible for breaking down initiatives into tasks and executing development plans on time and on budget.
Ultimately, the success of a product is measured against performance metrics and a product manager is integral to achieving against set metrics. For example, an eCommerce brand might hire a product manager to increase the checkout conversion rate by 10% in the coming quarter. The product manager is responsible for conducting user research and crafting a strategy to hit that conversion target. The solution may involve initiatives such as redesigning the checkout process to promote a smoother buying experience or implementing rewards when customers hit spend targets – it’s up to the product manager and the development team to determine what will work best.
Product life cycle
Every product will sit in a specific stage of the product life cycle. This concept can be defined as the length of time from when a product is first introduced to market until it is eventually removed, going through four distinct stages: introduction, growth, maturity and decline. This impacts product strategy and needs to be a key consideration in setting strategy around investment, promotion, development and more.
- Introduction Phase: This stage is when a product is first introduced to the market and consumers. A new product will often focus on a market niche with little to no competition. The business will typically be losing money on the product and attracting ‘early adopter’ users.
- Growth Phase: A product has been accepted by the market and usage and sales start to improve with relatively thin competition. The product will become more recognisable and popular.
- Maturity Phase: As a product enters the maturity phase, sales and usage peak but businesses will see greater competition as their success attracts copycats. Companies may begin to struggle or find it difficult to compete in a saturated market unless they pivot and innovate.
- Decline phase: What goes up must come down – in this phase, sales and usage decline due to competitive pressure. Products that don’t adapt may lose relevance as newer innovators take the main stage.
Products are a part of everyday life in whatever form they take, going through a cycle of adoption to evolution or abandonment. The stage of the lifecycle will heavily influence the approach and activities to meet established success metrics.
Product management is an integral part of supporting products to succeed in the market. It is a business process that involves planning, developing, launching and managing a product or service, from ideation to development and go-to-market.
Continue reading the next blog which delves into effective product management and what makes a product manager successful.
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