As a software product manager, there is nothing more valuable than having concrete information about the market – customers, competitors, partners – all folks that influence the “external” world outside your office building. No one inside your office is buying your product, but then why do we make a lot of product decisions depending on “I think it should be this …“?
Here is what contributes to your customer “capital”:
1) Number of customer visits you have made to your customer locations to understand their business problems, how they use your products and their unmet needs that are not solved by ANY product (not just your own).
2) If travel budget is tight (like now), the number of phone conversations you have had with customers to understand the above.
3) You are on top of what customers are talking about online – discussion forums (your own or other), blogs etc.
I want to emphasize the word “customer” – one who has bought or is likely to buy your product. I want to specifically exclude analysts or such pundits who will falsely claim that they know the current customer problems and where the market is headed.
When you have earned enough customer “capital” and you are confident about the data you have collected, spend it. Share it with your “internal world” (your office) – educate them, make them aware that you are talking to real people who will buy your product. This will quickly stop future decision making based on “I think it should be this …”?.
What do you think?
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Image: Courtesy of blog.kir.com