An Insider’s View on Product Management

May 17, 2009

Brand Hijacking

Filed under: Marketing,Social Media — Gregory @ 11:05 am
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Social network like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have opened a new area of opportunities for companies to promote their brand and manage their online presence. But they are also created a new source of challenges for companies to control and protect themselves in this inherently anonymous world.

Beginning of this year, 2 Dominos employees released a video on YouTube where they were blowing snot on pizzas at Dominos store. They are now facing felony charges. Last year, a person named “Janet” registered an account “ExxonMobilCorp” on Twitter and started answering questions on behalf of the company. In 2008 again, JC Penney became the latest victim of unofficial advertising – a video ads depicting fake sex was unleashed in the blogosphere.
The hijacking trend is not slowing down and represents a real danger for brands and corporations. Identity control will remain an issue on the web. Despite the fact that most social media sites provides strict terms and conditions to prevent impersonation, the temptation is too high and the copyright infringements prove difficult to enforce.

Consequently, companies should have an appropriate online strategy, monitor regularly their presence in the social media world and be ready to respond quickly to any “brandjacking” attempt. A preemptive action would be to register your company name across social media sites. This is especially efficient on sites like Twitter and YouTube where the username becomes the identity of the poster.

So now that you got warned, don’t get caught unaware!

May 10, 2009

Top 10 most annoying business expressions

Filed under: Product Management — Gregory @ 12:59 am
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The business world is addicted to buzzwords. They are everywhere around us – we can’t avoid them, no way to escape. Senior management is certainly the most to blame. Here is a compilation of my top ten most annoying business expressions:

1. Think outside the box. Easily at the top of my list. This is so “in the box” thinking.

2. At the end of the day. At the end of the day… it’s time to go to home.

3. Customer-Centric. Is that not what a business is all about?

4. Strategic planning. Planning alone must not sound impressive enough.

5. Pendulum has swung too far. This must be one of the fundamental laws of business.

6. Exceed customer expectations. The customer is definetely making a come back.

7. Foreseeable future. And, how far would that be?

8. Move things forward. What is it exactly that you have in mind?

9. Bleeding-edge. “Cutting-edge” does not cut it anymore.

10. Bandwidth. As “I don’t have the bandwidth to work on this”. My advice: better to leave “bandwidth” to network operators.

Anything else you would like to add to the list?

May 2, 2009

Should you listen to your customers?

Filed under: Business Strategy,Product Management — Gregory @ 8:18 pm
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Ford Model T There is a trend in today’s business to get closer to customers and let them directly influence product roadmap and features. Indeed, with the democratization of open communication and the internet, customer feedback programs are growing in popularity. Those programs are sometimes referred to as crowdsourcing and are adopted by high profile companies such as Dell IdeaStorm , Starbucks MyStarbucksIdeas and SalesForce IdeasExchange. Consequently, customers’ wishes, hopes and desires are getting added into products roadmaps with less and less scrutiny. After all, users should be the best judges for product enhancements. Without a doubt, incorporating customer suggestions into existing products is a proven approach to bring in incremental improvements and ensure customers retention. In fact, within the software industry, agile development methodologies have became all the rage in recent years and rely on the promise of constant customer feedbacks and iterative enhancements.

However companies should resist the temptation of taking this idea too far. Product managers must be careful not to confuse customer suggestions and feedback with the underlying bigger problem they are trying to solve. As Henry Ford famously put it: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”. Similarly, did anyone asked for the light bulb before Thomas Edison invented it? What about Sony’s Walkman? Keeping ahead of the competition and bringing to market the next relevant product take imagination and creativity. By solely focusing on present customers’ issues and existing solutions, companies unconsciously hinder their capacity to innovate, pay less attention to external industry trends and become more vulnerable to competition.

For companies, the key to a sustainable business strategy is not only to understand what customers want today and enhance existing product lines, but also to realize the limitations of this approach and encourage investments in longer term innovations.

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