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The Role of Analytics in Product Development – insideBIGDATA

In this special guest feature, Monty G. Myers, founder and CEO of Eureka Software Solutions, Inc., believes that if metrics are the vehicle that drives product development, analytics is the gasoline that provides the power. Without analytics, the information generated by metrics is just a pile of data. Analytics is crucial to product management for one significant purpose: product improvement. Analytics plays five important roles in product management. Monty is a software industry executive with more than 30 years experience, as well as a computer and software expert witness and legal consultant. Throughout his career, he has negotiated and performed hundreds of real-world software and technology contracts and statements of work involving complex software projects and licensing terms and conditions, including material intellectual property aspects. He has served as an expert witness for a mix of plaintiffs and defendants in more than 50 litigation matters.

Analytics is crucial to product management for one significant purpose: product improvement. Without analytics, product development would be reduced to a series of shots in the dark and product teams would be clueless as to how well their products were meeting user expectations.

The measurements taken by metrics and the insights provided by analytics enable product teams to make informed decisions about upgrading product functionality or adding capabilities. Without measuring and analyzing the results, they would have no idea if the revisions implemented are effective or even necessary. They would be flying blind.

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The five key roles of analytics in product development and management:

Product viability A variety of analytics tools can verify product concepts, helping developers test, learn, adjust and retest to speed up the product design and launch process.

Informed product decision-making Analytics has made decision-making more objective, reliable, and faster. While intuition based on experience and expertise can still play a valuable role in product development, it can – and should –take a backseat to objective analytics.

Product progress measurement Product analytics can inform team members about which features are working and which are not. Analytics plays a critical role in creating an accurate product roadmap that can tell you where your product is currently, where you want it to go (what you want it to be), and how to get it there.

User experience insights Product teams can use analytics to understand why users are buying their product and how they are using it.

Product development inspiration Analytics can jump-start innovation and help an existing product remain viable for an extended period of time. Quantitative analytics, used in conjunction with qualitative techniques, can provide a more holistic view of a product to help product management teams make the kind of focused improvements and adjustments that will help maintain that product’s value and improve its longevity.

Over the past decade or so, data generated by metrics and the analytical tools used to tease insights out of it have transformed product development and management. While some product team members may lament the demise of “seat-of-the-pants” engineering, the reality today is that without data and the analytics to understand it, effective product development and successful product management are simply not possible.

The new age of analytics

Advances in data management, cloud computing, and the wholehearted embrace of Big Data by virtually every industry and organization is ushering in a new age of product analytics. The data and insights it is producing is fueling a revolution in new product development processes and methodologies.

It’s now possible to improve product development and the chances of success by classifying and analyzing key characteristics of past product successes – attributes such as customer involvement level, sales force collaboration, and key metrics to model the relationship between product development factors and eventual product success. The trick is to collect the relevant product development attributes data and relate it all to product success in the marketplace. This can be a challenge because much of the data related to customer demand and response as well as competitive reactions reside outside the organization.

Still, the power of product analytics is reason enough to put it to work for your next product development project, despite whatever shortcomings may exist. Analytics are critical for telling you what’s going on with your products – from development, to launch, to customer satisfaction.

Product analytics can reveal the cold, hard truth about the capabilities and functionality of your product and how people really use it. Analytics gives you the most complete picture possible so you can build the best product possible.

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