The State of Product Analytics - Chapter 1 - Mixpanel
PART // 01

How product teams use data

Does Silicon Valley really have the “best” product managers?

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Product managers are all over.

Does Silicon Valley really have the “best” product managers? And what kind of data do the most cutting-edge product teams rely on? Let’s find out.

Silicon Valley and big, coastal cities like New York are often thought of as the innovation hubs of the world and are therefore expected to have the highest concentration of product managers and members of product teams. While that is true—with San Francisco, New York, and London having the highest concentration of product managers and leaders—it’s not true by much. The distribution of survey responses shows that product teams are everywhere.

The takeaway? Product innovation is happening globally.

Where are the best product teams?

Product teams may be hard at work all over the globe, but are they all created equally? We asked survey respondents to rate their perceived ability to leverage data to drive product innovation. While we expected to see major tech hubs like Silicon Valley, New York, and London be homes to the most data-centric product teams, this didn’t seem to be exactly the case either. Survey data showed that there’s a mix of sophisticated and novice teams all around the world. From Silicon Valley to Tel Aviv to Sweden to the UK, all regions showed a roughly equal mix of data expert and data novice product teams.

“WillowTree has intentionally chosen non-traditional tech hubs like Charlottesville, VA, Durham, NC, and Columbus, OH as home to our main offices, with the goal of increasing the longevity of our team members’ tenures in these emerging cities with a low cost of living and high quality of life. The reality is, however, that 85% of our team members are not from these small cities originally — rather, we attract and relocate top digital talent from major cities and tech hubs like San Francisco, Chicago, D.C., New York, and more.”

—Billie Loewen, Director of Growth Marketing, WillowTree

The conclusion? Data-driven innovation is an individual proficiency—not a regional trend.

There’s no shortage of data.

Our survey found that product teams are leveraging quantitative and qualitative data almost equally to inform their decision making. Whether this is surprising to you or not, it’s smart. Data isn’t always quantitative, and different types tell you different things. Customer interviews provide a wealth of information that you just can’t get from product analytics data or internal stakeholders. On the other hand, product analytics can give you valuable non-biased data that surveys and competitive information won’t. To make smarter decisions, product teams must look at all types of data holistically.

“Numbers have never told the whole story, there has always been space for qualitative data to inform product decisions. While hard data should still be properly analyzed, product teams should also re-concentrate their efforts on gathering qualitative data. The process of re-learning who their users are will be critical for success beyond 2020.”

– Carlos González Villaumbrosia, founder and CEO, Product School


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Sophisticated product teams rely most heavily on user data.

Smart product teams leverage all types of data, but we see a gradual shift towards quantifiable product analytics data as product teams gain experience and access to resources. In fact, the best product teams are relying most on quantifiable product analytics rather than qualitative data.

Why is that?

Customer interviews are insightful and deeply valuable, but they’re time intensive, difficult to do at scale, and run the risk of biased findings. Product analytics data, on the contrary, is largely unbiased, reliable, and easily scalable as user bases grow. It makes sense that product teams used to making datainformed decisions look at product analytics data more than other sources.

PART // 02

Metrics that matter

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