When the Game Changes: Pivot Like a Pro With Product Analytics

Our Board Chairman and Co-Founder Matin Movassate recently shared his thoughts with Gary Drenik of Forbes on the value of customer insights in times of rapid change and the key market trends that are driving the analytics space forward. The content below is an excerpt from the Q&A with Movassate in this Forbes article

GameStop has struggled due to competition from digital distribution services, making it difficult for Robinhood to predict an event like the retailer’s stock short squeeze. What proactive steps do companies need to take to prepare for a dynamic rate of change in their digital product?

When anticipating rapid change, companies don’t have the luxury of waiting for macro-indicators to stabilize. They need to be “sensing” micro-trends and ensuring those insights are embedded at every level of the organization. The easiest, most direct way to do this is to utilize a tool that 1) automatically captures the data on every user interaction on your site and 2) makes that data easily accessible across the organization.

By definition, the trends that will surprise you the most will be the ones that you don’t expect, or that come from unexpected directions. It’s your company’s ability to register and adapt to micro-trends — those 3 days when everybody is all-of-a-sudden a stock trader — that can make or break your business.

Realistically, this can only happen when you’re capturing data automatically and in real time. And it only works when you’re collecting everything. If you’re only looking at the things you expect to matter, you’re going to be blindsided. If you’re tracking everything, you can stay attuned to signals that may arise in unexpected places.

What are the outputs for early or growth stage companies that use product analytics to track customer behavior as they scale?

For early-stage companies, the challenge is to iterate quickly and build a viable product. For growth-stage companies, it’s to take your small group of customers and expand it rapidly. Doing both of these right requires constant testing and iteration — trying something, seeing how it resonates in the market, and moving from that information. Product analytics gives you immediate insight into how well your experiments are working, from the user-workflow level on up.

As your company grows, it can be difficult to keep track of every customer interaction, especially when a single user may interact with your company on mobile, desktop app, through email, and more. Simply monitoring desktop usage used to be enough, but according to the Prosper Insights & Analytics March 2021 Monthly Consumer Survey, over two-thirds of adults now use mobile payment apps. This number will only grow.

Luckily, it’s now possible to automatically collect data at all of these digital interaction points, and to automatically stitch that data together to get a full view of the end-to-end customer experience across all channels. Product analytics is the best tool — period — for doing this. It’s the only tool that can measure user behavior in all these cases and tell you what’s working and what isn’t.

Product is quickly and increasingly becoming a central part of a company’s business – what trends are driving this forward?

Over the last decade, we’ve seen product organizations all over gain more influence and more budget, and we’re starting to see the CPO becoming a key position across industries. Three trends are driving this forward. 

First, the increasing digitization of the business world is giving people access to a wider range of solutions and decreasing the costs of switching between them. Because of this, the products that demonstrate their value the fastest are starting to win

Second, it’s now much easier to purchase a digital product without having to talk to sales. This shifts responsibility from marketing and sales, who can sell a vision, to the product itself, which has to sell itself, usually by delivering results immediately. 

Finally, product as a discipline is starting to develop a shared set of practices for using data and staying rigorous when making decisions. As a result, product teams are now able to quantify the business impact of their work and show how their efforts directly increase revenue. The more product leaders are able to document the dramatic impact they have on the bottom line, the more influence they’ll get.

How would you characterize the shift the product manager role is experiencing as more than half of customers expect companies to accelerate their digital initiatives due to Covid-19?

As companies accelerate their digital initiatives, data on how customers interact with your product or website is shifting from being a requirement of data teams alone to being a requirement for everybody. Especially product managers. For many years’ product managers relied on instinct and experience (hopefully augmented by customer interviews) to make product decisions.

Now advances in product analytics — like automatic data capture and self-governance — are making it much easier for product managers to incorporate data into their day-to-day work. While customer insights were once available only to people with technical backgrounds, they’re now there for anyone who wants it.

The ease with which product teams can now collect data is also changing the standards by which they’re being measured. Product managers are now able to iterate on new features much more quickly as they can act on usage data and measure impact in real time. The result? Product managers are expected to know and report much more quickly what about their products is working and what isn’t.