We are now mere weeks away from the launch of AirPatrol’s revolutionary new product – ZoneDefense™. ZoneDefense will be the first and only intelligent enterprise mobility solution, which would continuously monitor mobile devices and alter their capabilities according to the situation. Putting it in other words, ZoneDefense is the first ever location-aware, indoor and outdoor, context-aware enterprise solution to monitor and manage wireless presence whether on wifi or cellular channels.
When the team convened earlier this year and made the decision to take the quantum leap and build this cutting edge product we stopped to think long and hard on how to go about doing so. The early estimates for the v1.0 of the product scoped it as a 10-15 man years project. The time available to us was a scant 12 weeks window. Life just became very interesting!
And so, when considering how to approach the project I had to fall back on a Product ownership theory I have been toying with over the past several years: the 4 stages of Product ownership to reach enlightenment, a.k.a, the Zen of Product Development.
At the very first stage Product owners busy themselves with the basic atoms of the Product, i.e., The Feature Set. Junior Product people get busy quickly in compiling long and futile laundry lists of the features that are or should be in the product. They then review the competitive landscape and produce similarly long and futile lists of the competitors’ product feature sets, so as to identify gaps in their own offering and to fill these with the missing features.
It usually takes junior Product owners a few years to grow out of this stage, if they have some common sense, which is when they reach the next stage on the path to Product Zen: The Market.
At this second stage the product owner realizes all of a sudden the futility of the product feature list and broadens his view to engulf the market the product is serving. Suddenly the focus becomes the target audience, its expressed wants and segmented needs. Products get repositioned and defeatured at this stage to better match the market segment they are addressing and
various tools are then utilized to analyze the overall market in which the product operates. Many Product owners get stuck at this stage, assuming they have reached a full understanding of the eco-system in which they are operating.
However, over time these types of products tend to wither and their Product owners disappear with them. That is, unless they manage to
climb to the third step on the path to Product enlightenment: Strategy.
Ah yes – this elusive term that so many strive to understand and master. Few are the Product people who achieve it and fewer can sustain themselves at these lofty heights where the air is thin, action is critical and decisions make or break companies. Growing out of the Market stage to the Strategy one introduces a key element to the art of Product ownership: time!
All of a sudden market needs and wants are explored with a broad view that scans the landscape over time. The product horizon becomes transparent all of sudden and the ships of change are seen long before they reach the shore of the present. Market changes no longer catch the strategically minded Product owner by surprise. Tectonic shifts in technology become opportunities to crash the competition and market tsunamis turn to be a useful tool rather than a life threatening experience for the product and company. And so, most Product owners reaching this stage feel they have mastered all there is to know in the art of Product ownership and rest on their laurels believing they have attained Product Nirvana.
The select few raise their heads to the heavens after spending years in Strategy-land wondering if there is more to Product ownership, and if they are ready they realize all of a sudden there is yet one more step to take along the path of Product Zen: Psychology.
Oh yes! When one reaches true Product Nirvana they manage to pierce the veil of business reality and see the naked truth of their role. Product ownership is not about managing exhaustive feature lists, nor is it about maneuvering in a market. Understanding and mastering Product Strategy is nice, but no cigar. A truly enlightened Product owner realizes that he manages experiences, nothing else. By careful action, or inaction, the enlightened Product owner shapes the perception of every person and every group of people interacting with the product to match his intention and to shape their resulting perceived reality. These audiences include development teams, management, press, analysts, competitors and of course customers. Being able to model a holistic image of the psychological landscape into which the product is launched and where it is living and thriving is one of the most intricate tasks placed on the Product owner. Only a few can attain this realm of Product Zen, but when they do they leave their mark there and it is felt across great distances.
This is where were we are today with ZoneDefense, a ground breaking product, to be released to the world in just a few short weeks. When we designed and built it we took into
consideration all of the above stages on the path to Product Zen. The feature set was perfected to match the target market with a clear view on our overall strategy. But most importantly we paid special attention to the psychological eco-system we are launching into, and which we intend to shape. ZoneDefense is a unique Product on very many levels. There is still a lot that is hidden and that cannot be disclosed here. At least not just yet.
Aug. 16th is our coming GA date. We will see you then.