CTO to Product planning – What is missing?

Most large organizations have a gap between the CTO group and the Product Groups

55% of the companies struggle to bridge the gap between innovation strategy and business strategy (internet research)

CTO group’s perspective:

CTO organizations are focused on core technology and patents. They tend to focus on fundamental technology problems that products face and how to solution those and, on new technologies that give products the title of the “Firsts”.

For example,  often CTOs are wrestling with finding innovative solutions to how wireless technology in product X is leading to a large volume of consumer complaints. And to how Virtual reality (VR) that uses state of the art ABC technology can lead to the next “first” product.

Product planner group’s perspective:

On the other hand, product planners in a company are focused on creating product roadmaps with the following goals:

  1. Beat the number of awards I have last year
  2. Reduce cost
  3. Launch new versions with something new in it
  4. Something new that competition doesn’t have
  5. What is missing and how can this be fixed?

Individually both sets of goals for the CTO and the product planner makes sense. But then why do we see a disconnect between the two?

Most CTO ideas are not considered; Many new product launches fail

In my experience of talking to many large companies, I have found this to be true.

Often as set goals for each organization, we tend to forget the fundamental goal of any company – To build stellar products that customers need. With that goal in mind, we almost need another entity in between CTO and the traditional Product Planners to do the “Lean” work.

Introducing The Lean Product managers (LPM) group

I am a big fan of Eric Rice’s Lean startup and Sprint from Jake Knapp. These guys have taught the world how to figure out “Product market fit” without building the product.

With that in mind the LPM group should ideally interface between CTO and the Product Planners, working closely with customers and validating hypothesis and backing it up with data.

 

Output of this group will be a validated output that product planners can now take with confidence.

CTO output goes into one of the two buckets. Pivot or Proceed. They would also get data from customers on what works and what does not.

It is not about the best technology that makes best products, it is about solving the best customer problem makes the best product.

Let me know what you guys think? How does this work in your organization. Do you think this method would work in large organization?

Is it an i-pod?

Believe it or not, in India the term “I-pod” has taken a common name for an MP3 player.

In the common market, if someone asks you “Which i-pod do you have?”.

If you say you have a nano, shuffle, touch… he would be confused! But if you say that you have an Apple, Sony or a Philips i-pod he understands!

I wonder how this happened. How did the word ‘I-pod’ takeover the name for an Mp3 Player? Is it because Apple did not spread the awareness very well in India and the buzz spread through word of mouth? I wonder if the following could have happened:

Person A: What is an i-pod?

Person B: It is something that can play music!

Now when Person A sees an MP3 player he thinks it is an i-pod! 😀

Not sure if this is a boon or a bane for Apple! Yes, the word “i-pod” is now widely used, but not sure if that is translating to sales for them.

Anyways we are keeping a short name for our product. The hardware device will be called “TECI”, short form for Track Every CoIn. So that it is easy to refer it – “Do you have a TECI?” 🙂

Blog also posted at our company web site.

Having the right thing Vs Doing the right thing

 

Should you have the perfect business model to become success?

Should people like your product before you launch it?

Should everything be perfect before you think about starting a venture?

 

Here are my thoughts on this, please feel free to comment on it or add your own views.

1. Idea

It is not important to have the right idea. It is important how you execute it. As engineers we always focus on the idea, we wait till we get the best idea and then think about jumping into it. I feel that should not be the case. Even if you have a simple idea and you think you can do it better, then you should jump into it. Consider the case of Cane-O-LA, all they do is make sugarcane juice. The idea is so simple, people made sugarcane juice for years. But still we have a whole new venture out there with sugarcane juice!

2. Design

Once you have selected your idea, focus on getting the best design. When we are making a product you should not neglect the design. “First impression is the best impression”. You could have the most useful product but if the look and feel is not good, then it is hard for people to get started with it. Good design will help you overcome people’s resistance for trying a new product.

3. Engineering

For most of us this is our domain. Lets make no mistake here. Finally we are building our own product. It is time to bring the passion out. Make sure everything in the product goes well. Give your best here. There is no manager’s pressure to just finish the work. Give your best you can’t go wrong.

4. Packaging

We have learnt the hard way here. We have done repacking of ION, USB Charger. Never compromise on the packaging. Different things that can be done here. 1. To do what everyone else is doing. Follow a standard packing. 2. Make something totally different. But understand the minimum requirement of your product packaging. Eg: If you are a small electronic product make sure you have provision to hang the product.

5. Sales

Lot of times people will say no one will buy your product. I don’t believe in this. No one will buy your product if you don’t know how to sell it. The key is to sell it right. You need a good sales person if your product is bad or your pricing is bad. But for a good sales person it doesn’t matter. Again if you have screwed up in the above 4, then make sure to get the best sales person. 

Conclusion:

It does not matter if you have the perfect things to start or not. It is ok if you are not able to prove in the beginning that people will like your product or not. Just make sure you keep your passion together and do the right things. Things will fall into place!