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What Can Domino’s Teach Product Managers? – The Accidental Product Manager

What Can Domino’s Teach Product Managers?

What does the future hold for Domino's?
What does the future hold for Domino’s?
Image Credit: Mr. Blue MauMau

Anyone who went to university knows all about Domino’s. After a late night of studying, they were the ones that we’d all call to have a hot and tasty pizza delivered to us. What a lot of us may not know is that it was Domino’s that first made pizza popular in the U.S. back in the 1960’s. The pizza market is in the midst of undergoing a high tech transformation and its product managers are going to have to get ready to deal with a brave new world. What kind of changes to their product development definition are they going to be facing and how will they deal with them?


The New Market For Pizza

Pizza is pizza, right? Well, actually no. It turns out that there are a lot of changes happening in the pizza market that are keeping Domino’s product managers on their toes. The thinking is that just about everything having to do with how pizzas are made and how they get to the end customer is probably going to change in the next few years. People who order pizzas now have a lot of different options for how the pizza can get to their homes: DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, etc.

The Domino’s product managers have decided to not outsource the delivery of their pizzas. Instead, what they are planning on doing is to make investments in Domino’s operations in order to make them more efficient and to make the overall process be better for their customers. If they can do this correctly, then they’ll have something to add to their product manager resume.


It’s All About Data

One of the key tools that the Domino’s product managers have to work with is the enormous amount of data about their customers and what they want that the company has. The product managers are always taking a look at what their customers choose to purchase from the company over time. Based on what they learn from this data, the product managers go back and make changes to the Domino’s menu.

Customers will create a demand pattern over time. The result of this is that the Domino’s product managers will end up adding things to the menu and taking things off of the menu. A great example of this occurred a while back when the Domino’s product managers launched a new line of artisan pizzas which surveys had said that people thought tasted great. However, what they quickly learned was that there was little demand for this type of pizza and the result was that Domino’s ended up pulling this offering off of their menu.


What Role Will Robots Play?

It is becoming very clear that robots are going to start to play a role in how pizzas are created and delivered to customers. However, at Domino’s they believe that robots are going to end up helping, but not replacing, human pizza makers. The Domino’s product managers are starting to use robots to place balls of dough on trays which is something that humans used to do. Domino’s is speeding up the process cooling their dough down by installing automated chillers.

Domino’s wants to bring more automation into their supply chain centers. The company plans to introduce artificial intelligence into their stores to help out with things like worker scheduling. However, the product managers want to keep the magic of making a pizza something that is done by humans.


How Will Delivery Work In The Future?

The Domino’s product managers understand that the least efficient thing that they do is to deliver pizzas to customers. Today, in order to deliver a pizza, 4-5 lbs of food are placed into a vehicle that is really designed to seat four adults and keep them safe in case of a crash. The vehicle has to be driven by a human being. The Domino’s product managers are currently experimenting with driverless autonomous vehicles that are smaller than a golf cart.

The goal of the product managers is to find a way to bring the cost of delivering pizzas down over time. The product managers are open to many different and novel ways to get pizzas to customers. One idea that has been discussed is to find a way to use drones to get pizzas to customers who are located in remote areas. These are just ideas at this stage.


What All Of This Means For You

If there is one thing that I think that we can all agree on, it’s that people like pizza. The product managers who work for Domino’s pizza understand this and they work to compete in a challenging market. The world of pizza creation and delivery is about to undergo some significant changes and these product managers are going to have look at their product manager job description and be ready for them when they come. Will they be ready?

Domino’s makes and delivers pizzas. Their world is changing and now they are starting to compete with all of the food delivery services that have sprung up. Domino’s is not going to use these services and instead has decided to invest in their operations. The Domino’s product managers have a lot of data about what their customers want. This allows them to constantly make changes to their menu. Once they introduced a pizza that customers didn’t want and so they had to quickly remove it. Robots are going to be playing a bigger role in how Domino’s makes its pizzas. The Domino’s product managers have decided to have humans be the ones who actually create the pizzas. How pizzas get delivered is very inefficient. Domino’s is looking into autonomous vehicles and drones to get pizzas to their customers.

The future will look very different from today. The product managers at Domino’s pizza understand this and they are starting to prepare for it. Their future will contain robots and autonomous vehicles. In order to remain successful, they are going to have to take the time to understand how best to harness these new technologies in order to meet their customer’s needs even better. If they take the time to understand what they have to work with and what their customers really want, then they stand a good chance of being the pizza provider that we all call when we are hungry.


– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™


Question For You: Do you think that Domino’s should look into having robots make pizzas?


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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The product managers at Amazon have a bit of a problem on their hands right now. They have a popular voice activated device called Alexa that can play music, look up things on the web, add things to a shopping list and a lot of other things all using voice commands – no typing, no screen swiping. However, Alexa exists in a very competitive market. Google and Apple both have competing products. This means that the Amazon product managers have to do something to make their product unique. They think that they may have come up with a great idea: health care data.