How companies that are successful build products quickly, and continuously make improvements.
Introducing Continuous Product Design – An approach to continuously evolve digital products using a quantified and user-centric approach:
Our consumption patterns have drastically shifted in the last few years. With newer digital product launches every few days, and the rapid evolution of digital products, the features they offer change constantly. In the physical world, the lifecycle of products would be several years without any changes or iterations, whereas digital products see iterations every few hours.
This shift has become more prevalent in the last few years, and companies must keep up with this rapidly evolving phase, and move to a more continuous cycle of product creation.
What challenges arise for businesses that churn out digital products? – Many companies are not equipped to keep up with this fast pace of product evolution.
Just because companies are churning out products faster, does not mean that they are able to deliver releases that enhance user experience or cater to their needs.
Apart from a few companies like Google, Amazon and Spotify, most companies were not adequately prepared to move this fast. They are stuck with slower product cycles and products that do not meet their audience’s needs in a timely fashion.
The reasons for this are as follows – departments work in silos without sharing their data, they do not embrace risk taking because making mistakes is costly, they do not come together as a team to prioritise what’s next in terms of improving the product and the power to take decisions lies in the hands of a few senior level executives. All of these challenges cripple the ability of the organisation to continuously design digital products that are customer centric and evolve quickly.
An Agile Approach transformed the way companies designed products
What we now call Agile development has evolved from technical teams like the engineering and IT teams. They took a rapid iteration approach to product development which formed the foundation of the Agile Development Approach and transformed the way companies do business.
This approach helped companies develop software which would allow their engineering team to make rapid iterations to products and their delivery teams to release the products quickly.
This was a transformative phase for companies to continuously develop and deliver these digital products with greater frequency.
However Agile technology isn’t enough to ensure that companies deliver projects that meet customer’s expectations. This is because the impact of the product is not measured consistently by teams therefore creating a gap in information. Teams are disconnected from the impact of the products they create and whether or not customers are satisfied.
The way forward – digital transformation: Integrating facets of digital technology into all areas of business
To combat this problem of scattered information and lack of prioritisation, Continuous Product Design is a new approach that incorporates digital transformation into every facet of business. Agile approaches from technical teams get extended to all teams that are involved in creating digital products. It measures different user metrics at every phase of the product life cycle to deliver products that customers actually want. User data gets analysed consistently to ensure delivery of a high quality digital product in quick releases so that the product keeps improving.
This approach helps teams assess what needs to be prioritised first and quickly learn what is working and what isn’t by analysing customer experience and understanding customer impact.
If an iteration is not working, teams can quickly correct the course of product development and rectify what needs to be fixed.
This changes the way businesses interact with customers and the value and customer experience they deliver. This is the leading motivation for companies to implement a Continuous Product Design Approach. Companies that are adapting to digital transformation are able to create loyal and engaged customers that are more likely to be satisfied by the product. They also are more likely to have a better customer experience.
This has multiple benefits – if customers have a better experience, they are more likely to become loyal customers that are willing to buy the new products the company releases or buy software upgrades because they know that the update will deliver better value. This kind of trust is irreplaceable. Highly engaged customers that buy more frequently are also more likely to spend more per purchase. This is a huge asset to any business.
To achieve this, organisations need to fully adapt to Continuous Product Design. When companies embrace this approach, all teams become fully involved in the product roadmap, and are better aligned on the product goals. They are able to work together in complete sync to deliver products faster and better.
How can companies adapt to the Continuous Product Design Approach? The pillars of conducting and embracing a culture of continuous improvement are:
- Define customer goals using data, not assumptions
- Develop products faster while assessing and minimising risk
- Deliver new products with greater confidence
- Discover whether your product is delivering customer satisfaction and course-correct quickly
All of these pillars together will create processes that work together seamlessly. Organisations that make all of their team members feel equally valued, will be able to create a culture of collaboration where everyone feels equally responsible for the success of the product. Teams will be able to come together and map out a vision for the direction of product development.
The benefits are that; risks get mitigated, more important features get prioritised higher, the development team can make constant adjustments based on customer satisfaction, and deliver better iterations in a timely manner thus making updates for customers faster.
Continuous Product Design Approach requires a long term commitment to constantly innovate, and develop products that deliver beyond customer expectations by creating a continuous feedback loop between teams that results in better products for customers. All teams then work with the same insights and knowledge they need to make faster and more efficient decisions. It allows them to prioritise the most important software updates that customers need first.
This kind of an approach is especially useful in today’s fast paced environment of constant innovation because companies can take more risks and not be so afraid of failure. They can learn from their mistakes and empower every single person in the team to create products that deliver better value for their customers. They can then constantly be on the lookout for ways to create better customer experiences. It is a more data centric approach that relies on constant feedback and solution building.