“The Product is the Business”

This is undoubtedly true for some businesses today. Clearly, startups really only have ‘the product’, as their initial purpose is to discover product-market fit. It’s true for mobile phone manufacturers, as Blackberry and Samsung demonstrate in different ways. It’s also true for Apple and Google, whose latest product releases are eagerly anticipated. But what about longer established businesses, or those in less ‘cutting edge’ markets?

The title of this blog came from Niall Murphy, technologist & entrepreneur, who I heard speak at a recent ProductTank event in London. What he actually said was “Increasingly, the Product IS the Business”. Today, no business can rest on its laurels and rely on its existing product. Constant innovation is not just desirable, it’s essential to stay in business. Niall was talking about digital augmentation of physical products, adding digital services to a well-known product like a guitar to create a completely new user experience. What if your guitar remembered what you played on it, and you could go back to yesterday and find that lick you made up? What if it could automatically convert it to music, and then transpose it to a different key and show you the new chord sequence? Would that be ‘just a guitar’ then? Or a completely new product?

Whatever your business, you had better figure out how you are going to make product innovation a part of ‘business as normal’ and not something that happens every few years. Product management will stop being a function and will become, well, management. That’s a very different way of looking at your business.

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