Here comes yet another post from Marty, this one is on creating non-technology products.
March 6, 2010
March 1, 2010
After a long hiatus, this is my return to wordpress. I am trying out posting this blog from my iPhone. Let us see how good and easy it is, and if it can incentivise me to get back into the habit of blogging, again.
August 18, 2007
August 9, 2006
After free hops, I’ve got myself a paid site http://www.sridharnathan.com. Henceforth, I’ll start blogging there at http://sridharnathan.com/blog/. As yet I can’t export these posts to my new site since the wordpress version there is older. Trying to get that upgraded, with my hosting providers.
August 7, 2006
With reference to all material about this, here’s what I realise about the customer benefit value chain:
Need -> Solution -> Product -> Brand
And here’s how I detail this value chain:
Need: What a user needs – expressed or latent need
Solution: Any answer, physical or logical, tangible or intangible, single or multiple, that helps the user feel his/her need has been met
Product: Indivisible component(s) of the solution that contribute to meeting the user need
Brand: The name with which world remembers the product(s) or solution(s)
What’s so special about this value chain?
More often than not, you see the evolution from Need to Brand. But very rarely do you see the evolution in the other direction. In other words, it’s likely that the descendant doesn’t exist but the ancestor does exist. It’s highly unlikely that the ancestor doesn’t exist but the descendant exists. The descendant is the smoke that comes out of the ancestor fire.
Each of the descendants evolves when there’s a critical mass of the ancestor. Take the software world for that matter.
Need: People wanted to communicate quickly with each other at workplace and outside of it. This was felt across a few offices which were evolved and in the cutting edge of business (universities, defence institutions, financial institutions etc).
Solution: Someone thought electronic mail will solve the problem. And she/he/they defined protocols for data interchange and communication among different systems (address header, smtp/pop/imap etc).
Product: A smart guy created a web-based email that could be used by people quite easily, with very little learning curve. This used the backend protocols etc that were part of the solution defined by other people. It also could communicate with other systems using the same protocols. Bingo! the world started getting in touch.
Brand: The product was bought by a biggie for a few 100 million US$. By that time the world knew the product by the brand.
Product Nirvana is when the Brand is known as the Product. E.g. “I have a hotmail“.
Solution Nirvana is when the Brand is known as the Solution. E.g. “Why don’t you google this and find out?”
Hemang was critiquing this post and mentioned that the more you milk the brand, it tends to become a ‘commodity’. How does one handle that? More of that in a different post.
July 31, 2006
This is a departure from the classic ‘Winner takes it all’, when applied to emerging markets that are dominated by an information-intensive age.
The most visible impact of the information age (PDF), according to me, is the levelling of playing field in a trice. And, if you look at history of successful businesses in this age, the ones that make winners out of its customers are the most successful – Microsoft (created a large number of successful companies building Windows apps, a large number of individuals and groups that learnt how to use a PC and evolve in life), eBay (created a new group of people who started businesses and made money from that) etc…
In essence, the company either explicitly or implicitly focused on creating winners out of everyone who was their customer. If they’d focused on taking it all, they may have been quite short-sighted. Imagine if Microsoft did not expose Windows APIs for people to build apps and decided to do it all by itself.
That led me to think that where efficient markets are at work, any player has to get its customers to rally around itself, since it’s net perceived value (NPV?) is the sum total of the value each customer places on it. And, unless the customer feels like a “Winner”, having sided with the ‘perceived winner’, s/he will not place high value on the company, which means, the company’s net perceived value will be low.
So, in the information age, the ‘Winners take most of it’!
Ravindra, my colleague passed on an interesting comment:
“To Win in a Market, create the Market”
July 6, 2006
I’m a fan of Martin Cagan’s Product Management Newsletter and find them quite precise and illustrative. He doesn’t regularize his newsletter as weekly / monthly etc, but writes as he feels like it and has enough meat to offer readers.
In his latest post, he writes about where Product Management should live, in organizations today. Given that Product Management acts as the bridge between market opportunity and company product portfolio, and is a very crucial function contributing to the art of making business decisions, this post comes as a nice awakening to the PM community (including myself).
Martin starts with analysing the prevalent structures in organizations today, where PM is part of Engineering or Marketing. When coupled with Engineering, the PM tends to become a custodian of the PRD versions while coupling it with Marketing, the PM is likely to be more concerned about Product Marketing.
His assertion is, PMs play a role in converting market opportunities into tangible and saleable products & services. This means, having a say in the investment decisions of the company, which implies access to the executive team, without being colored by the influence of technology, delivery pressures or sales & marketing.
Interesting thoughts. I tend to agree with most of these. In my own experience, I’ve observed that in smaller startups and technology product companies, the Product Manager could very well be wearing the Engineering hat too (I did that in my previous job, working with a Technical Architect or a Principal Engineer). I had colleagues who came from programming / development backgrounds and assumed Product Management ownership. We were fairly successful at churning out high quality products for an international customer base.
Nevertheless, as companies grow bigger in size, product efforts become specialized. In such a context, the Product Manager has to be the torch-bearer of the User Experience that can significantly impact the saleability and acceptance of a product, more so in the case of a consumer-targeted product rather than a business-targeted product.
June 2, 2006
Blogging this post from Madurai Airport, waiting for the delayed Indian Airlines flight to Chennai 🙂 The internet connectivity is provided by BSNL Wifi, enabled and available free-of-cost for users within the Airport! This is AWESOME!
I was in San Francisco and Frankfurt last November. Both airports had the sign 'Wifi Enabled'. Open the Browser and a online-payment-in-$$/Euro shows up. Unless you pump in some money there, you can't use those Wifi connections. Whereas, in Madurai, it's FREE!
Interestingly, non-physical connectivity (internet/wifi) seems to be faster than physical connectivity (airplane) in an emerging market like India. Some trend to take note of?
Another trend is, as living conditions and city conditions evolve from a lower tier city to that of a developed/big city, hitherto assumed commodities become luxuries or branded goods, while luxuries, comforts and conveniences become commodities.
May 17, 2006
I’ve been working on the Job Search Engine for Yahoo! India (http://in.jobs.yahoo.com) since the early part of this year. The site is currently in Beta and we’re improving on a variety of different and new things for the product.
All along, we’ve tried to focus consistently on delivering the core value of the site – which is, to make it easier for the job seeker to discover the most relevant jobs across the universe of jobs for Indians and in India.
Sometime early this year, IAMAI, the Internet and Mobile Association of India published a research study on the demographics of the 6.5 Million Online Job Seekers of India. Get the Report (PDF) It talks about a strong growth in the online recruitment industry, from the Rs. 145 Crores, in 2005-06 to Rs. 241 Crores, in 2006-07! Now, that’s a neat 60%+ growth, and how? On the internet usage part, Email, Surfing and Search are the top 3 activities among the surveyed group. Next in rung are News online and Chatting.
We’ve seen Naukri go on TV with their Job Show, Monster India coming out with a face-lifted product, Career Builder starting Indian operations this year. One can expect to see interesting action in this space.
It will be interesting to see how vertical searches, Yahoo! India Job Search and the other search engines entering the various verticals, play out in these growing markets. My view is that for the person who’s serious about search (and I define ‘serious’ as “An intent to complete an activity – get right info, start/finish a socially valuable transaction”), is likely to be a user of the Vertical Search products, rather than plain jane web search.
Talking about Vertical Searches, web searches are still likely to be “entry points” for most searches. Take this example of a simple search for ‘bangalore chennai flights‘. The first result is something from FareChase, Yahoo!’s travel search product. Now, given the kind of information that search engines usually collect, it’s going to be a neat entry for vertical search results to bubble up the top of keyword search where vertical-content is most relevant.
We live in interesting times 🙂
April 26, 2006
- The Customer: Who operates in the market environment and who brings in more revenues to your business
- The Competition: Who are fighting for the same money that you are fighting, and are all out to woo the Customer
- The Corporation: Who provides you the environment to carry out your business
Like the 'Fire Triangle' (Oxygen+Combustible Material+Source of Heat), absence of one of the C's in business makes 'strategizing' redundant.
But, in the typical Corporation, strategizing is an effort that's carried out with such aplomb that the essence is lost and there's more focus on the means than the ends!