All too often when we think about the products or services that we are product managers for, we get hung up on the need to be able to touch something. Many of us like boxes with lights on them, CD jewel boxes that snap shut with CDs with nicely printed product labels on them, etc. If I can touch it, then it must be a real product. Hmm, but maybe we’ve been missing an alternate universe of products that could boost not only our company’s bottom line but also our careers…
Your company’s most valuable resource is NOT its people. At least according to your accounting department. Instead the most valuable resource that your company owns is all of the data that it has collected since the day that it opened its doors.
Thomas Redman is the author of a book called Data Driven: Profiting from Your Most Important Business Asset. He has studied the information that companies have stored up and he’s got some suggestions for us product mangers.
There is a good chance that within all of this data lies a new product that you could bring to market. I’m not saying that this would be easy to do, but it would have a far better chance of succeeding than dreaming up some other risky new product.
Let’s take a look at just what you would / could do to in order to turn this potential pile of gold into a product that you could successfully manage:
- Create New Content: How the data that you currently have is organized and formatted may not be of any value to your potential customers. Instead, think about ways to reformat it to create new, richer or more targeted data.
- Repackage, Repackage, Repackage: Even the oldest information can take on a shiny new look if you reformat, synthesize, or filter it. Doing this can also open the door to adding data created by others to the data that you already have to create something new.
- Informationalize It: Perhaps a new information product could be created by simply adding monitoring functionality to your existing products. Once you collect data about how your products are being used, perhaps this data can then be sold back to the customers who were using it!
- Got To Keep ‘Em Separated: Take a look at the products that you are managing right now. Are you bundling a product and data together when you sell it? Try separating the data from the product and selling it separately. Hey, it worked wonders for the Xbox!
- Make The Most Of Asymmetries: Use your data to gain a better understanding of your products and your market in order to leverage any perceived differences in the value of your products or services. Things that your data tells you that nobody else knows can be key to boosting your bottom line.
- Sell Asymmetries: If your data would provide insights to another firm that they can’t get any other way, then consider selling it to them. Even if the data is not valuable to you, look for other firms to whom it would be valuable.
- Sometimes Labels Are Good: take the time to classify your data by adding unique labels to customer types in order to help other users of your data to more easily find what and whom they are looking for.
- Access Has Value: Just by making it easier for consumers to find the data that they are looking for can create a valuable information product.
- Start Mining: Often the raw data is useless. You need to mine the data and start to conduct analysis of it. Your goal should be to gain an understanding of customer behavior and spot marketplace trends earlier than anyone else.
Have you ever considered selling your company’s data as another product? Do you currently sell data along with your existing products? Would you consider selling data that is “useless” to you to other firms in order to help them compete? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.