Yamaha Group

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A Peek Into Product Management

4/12/2013
RevoBlog
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As one of the Product Managers here at Revolabs, I am always looking forward, and trying to figure out where the (wireless) audio market is going.  Which features do we need to add, what will be the next big requirement?  It is a difficult art form to get this done right – and I am the first one to admit that pretty often I can be wrong.  I don’t see this as a problem though; I see this as an opportunity.

As a Product Manager I should not be the one driving the features and requirements in the first place.  So while I may have an idea, it may not always be the best idea of what the product should do. However, my opinion doesn't matter.  The market defines where the product needs to go – that's why it's call a “Market Requirements” document and not a “Product Manager’s Requirements" document! I am simply managing, collecting and prioritizing all the ideas and requests that come in from our end users.  This is how most of the enhancements of the product are identified.  I monitor the market, trying to understand where it is going.  
 
And this does not only include the microphone market – Our customers are installing a communication solution where the microphone is one part of it.  Audio Conferencing in small and large rooms, video conferencing in small and large rooms are applications that have been around for quite some time, and we improve our microphone and audio solutions for these applications with every new release of our product.  
 
But where is the market going next?  My crystal ball often fails me in this category.  If you would have listened to me 25 years ago, you would know that the internet was dead on arrival.  That was based on my experience with modems sending and receiving data at the speed of 2,400 baud (and that was fast at that time).  I think I said earlier that I am often not right in my predictions.  Don’t ask me for investment tips!
 
Now, how do I get it right then?  The only way for me to make sure that our next generation of products will be successful is by listening to you.  The users need to define what the next product will be.  Sometimes I get the information through our Sales and Sales Engineering team – they are working with you on a daily basis, and get your feedback and input.  But don’t start calling them just now to tell them your newest requirement.  They are also filtering the feedback before it comes to me, and color it the way they see it.  
 
Often I call it the “requirement of the day”, because it was the one thing the sales person heard that day, and it is now the most important feature missing in our product.  Only if a “feature of the day” repeats itself after a few days or weeks, maybe from another sales person, then it becomes a requirement.  From there it still has to work its way up to get priority for implementation – but the seed was planted, and there is a chance that this requirement will be implemented.  I just need to hear it often enough from the market.
 
You might ask yourself the question, "How do I have the right to decide which requirement get to move forward?"  And "Why did we not follow up on your requirement?" Unfortunately, not every requirement can be implemented.  Otherwise we would have a round square triangular microphone that is black silver white.  I can go on and on with requirements that are just contradicting each other.  I know that each one is valid, but at some level a compromise has to be made.  And a decision on which requirement can be implemented, and which will have to wait.  That actually goes to the biggest restraining factor in any company I worked for.  Wouldn’t we all love to have infinite resources?  The last step in the process is prioritizing the requirements based on how many of our customers will benefit from us implementing one requirement over another.
 
But coming back to the collection of requirements – the best way for me to collect requirements is to get them directly from you.  No filter (beside my own, which I try to suppress), nobody in between to color it their way.  I love to talk directly to users, resellers, installers, consultants, and everybody else who is involved in the decision to buy our product, the ones who install it, and the ones who use it on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, I don’t get out as often as I like to seek the conversations with you. I promise that I will try hard to spend more time on the road, and hopefully talk to you!  I already spoke to a lot of you at ISE in Amsterdam and at Enterprise Connect in Orlando.  I will be at Infocomm in Orlando and I am looking forward to talking to you.  But don't wait that long if there is something you want to give me on the way for our next product releases - you can always reach me via my email address hstoltze@revolabs.com.  I will be happy to hear any idea or suggestion you have!
 

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