Three Key Considerations for Enterprise Products in 2019

Easy as 1-2-3, we hope, but Clay Christensen of Harvard Business school was right when he said capitalizing on disruptive innovations is hard because we are strapped to business models and processes that helped us succeed in the past.

So much is changing for product managers going into 2019! None of us can ignore the almighty cloud as an animating force in technology. None of us can sidestep the reality of consumption-based pricing models. And we can’t reach for success if we don’t give customers what they need, how they want to buy it.

Here are three focus areas for 2019 that I think will help you turbo-charge the long-term strategy for your enterprise products: Data Analysis, Cloud Performance, and Customer Success.

1. Data Analysis

There’s no doubt about it… data is gold for any business. According to a 2018 study by Forbes magazine, only 12% of executives reported the appointment of a Chief Data Officer in their 2012 survey. By 2018, that number had grown to 63.4%!

  • Product usage data is a mine of valuable insights into the voice of the customer.
  • Customer support data talks to you about quality and overall customer experience.
  • Sales and CRM data is rife with insights on segmentation and competitive pressures.

Why not manage the usage and utilization metrics for your cloud and subscription products and look for what they are telling you? Take those data insights you have from your cloud-based services and show key trends to your decision-makers with some high-impact visuals.

Governments and regulatory agencies increasingly want to know what data we collect and how we use them. This environment makes a perfect business case for every oversight-sensitive firm to connect or consolidate its data silos and evangelize the use of actionable data across company rank and file.

How can you best leverage your data this year and monetize it to the extent possible?

2. Cloud Product Performance

Product performance is critical for anyone playing in the cloud today. Your gamut of considerations should run all the way from mobile access strategy, privacy, and scalability to application/data security and accessibility across on-premise, hybrid, and/or multi-cloud deployments.

How will you cover these considerations while maintaining a customer experience that is intuitive, seamless, and consistent across deployment models? And while you are at it, can you also personalize and integrate the new product in customer environments to maximize penetration and accelerate adoption?

Business leaders must weigh and balance these differentiators against the usual conflicting forces: choice of architecture, development/maintenance costs, geographical scale/span, customer segments, and vertical applications or features. If you can nail the sweet spot for all of the above from the get-go, you will be able to build, test, and deploy hopefully at the speed of light!

3. Customer Success

When technology is purchased as a service and deployed in the cloud, you earn stickiness and customer loyalty by showing customers their “time to value”. That time is defined by outcomes measured against the customer’s financial and/or operational metrics, not just by traditional metrics (ex., deployment time, total cost of ownership, or mean time to resolution). So be sure your product or solution is engineered to deliver two things foremost:

  • An accelerated, well-instrumented deployment experience that achieves the desired outcomes
  • A way to measure and visualize the ROI (an outcome in itself)

Your “say-do” on outcomes will hinge on knowing early where things may be going wrong, and receiving autonomous triggers when progress towards the outcomes is slow or stalled. If you instrument the product to do these things, you will have a great grasp of how customers are using your product, if they are falling off or “giving up” on the platform, and how you can bolster or accelerate adoption.

Brainstorm on ways to make customers successful in a way that scales. Salesforce Trailheads, for example, shows users how to get to the “first-level value” in the shortest possible time. User conferences are a great way to grow your user community and showcase how peer groups are achieving outcomes using your solutions. Cisco’s Live, Salesforce’s Dreamforce, and Tableau’s user conferences have all become “go-to” venues for power users.

What we need in 2019… a holistic technology solution hat!

Cloud and new pricing models are the business brain-twisters of today. To tackle them and succeed, we must think well beyond the usual “features” and “speeds and feeds”. The three considerations I’ve shared are a good starting point for the next startup unicorn. 

What considerations are top of mind for you?

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