Do you know how well your product is performing in the hands of consumers? Before designing the next iteration or adding another feature, take a few steps back and use product intelligence to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of what you already offer.
What is Product Intelligence?
What if Apple decided to call it a day after designing the wildly popular original iPhone? Let’s imagine instead of developing the 3G, 6 Plus and 11 Pro, Apple just kept making the first version of the phone. The company will still have made a major impact on the smartphone industry, but chances are sales wouldn’t be nearly as good today. Samsung, Google and other competitors would have quickly worked off of their design to create an enhanced model, which is exactly what they did.
But in real life, Apple is a huge advocate of product intelligence, the process of gathering and analyzing data connected to how people actually use a product. This type of information provides guidance for continuing to innovate the product and making improvements that keep consumers coming back instead of turning to the competition. Product intelligence reveals how well a product is performing and what type of changes or additions are needed to improve performance.
Product intelligence can be used in other aspects of production as well. A number of companies use automated product intelligence software to synchronize manufacturing locations, improve quality control and accelerate production at plants.
The primary benefits of using product intelligence include:
- Higher customer satisfaction
- Lower churn rate
- Accelerated product innovation
- Improved competitiveness in the marketplace
- Larger market share
- Streamlined production process
- Better quality control during production
Product intelligence helps a company keep evolving so that products remain relevant. Companies that fail to utilize product intelligence risk shortening the product lifecycle and losing market share when a competitor launches their own version.
Fortunately, product intelligence isn’t a complicated process when you have analytics tools that are capable of aggregating and organizing the data. The process of product intelligence involves:
Automated Data Gathering on Product Performance
Automation is a key component of product intelligence. The user behavior data should be collected automatically so that product intelligence is scalable and easy to manage. Analytics platforms like Mixpanel that automatically configure the data to generate reports make the process even easier.
Consumer feedback is another source of information for product intelligence. Conducting customer interviews, surveys and/or focus groups adds another layer of information, particularly on how customers feel about a product and levels of satisfaction. Today there are intelligence tools that leverage text analytics to analyze customer reviews, social media comments and ratings for a product.
The data that’s gathered for product intelligence doesn’t get archived and forgotten. It’s used as a basis for testing, which takes data from informative to actionable. Managers and developers can test customer sentiment for different iterations or gauge which changes have the most positive impact before launching a new product.
Who Can Use Product Intelligence
Product intelligence produces valuable information for a number of people across the company. The three groups that stand to benefit the most from product intelligence include:
Product Managers – Product managers can use product intelligence to inform the entire development process, including what updates should be made. It takes the guesswork out of the equation so product managers can make informed decisions that help projects meet objectives.
Product Designers – The people making the products need product intelligence more than anyone. Product designers use the insights to create features and make changes that increase adoption rates, improve customer satisfaction and add value for users.
Marketers – Knowing how a product is used and what users get out of it helps marketers create engaging campaigns that inform the target audience while encouraging them to learn more.
Product Intelligence vs Business Intelligence
They sound very similar, but there are some distinctions between product intelligence and business intelligence (BI). Both use data analytics to improve operations, however, product intelligence is much more focused. Product intelligence is relegated to an individual product’s performance whereas business intelligence is aimed at understanding how many facets of the company are performing and where improvements can be made. As a result, BI informs a wide variety of decisions across departments, not just product development.
Another distinction is that business intelligence involves creating an information infrastructure for gathering, storing and sharing data. This infrastructure can be used for analytics projects such as fast-tracking product intelligence.
Business intelligence shares some of the same practices as product intelligence, but one isn’t a substitute for the other. It’s best to have product analytics and business intelligence tools at your disposal. Both BI and product intelligence will help you make data-driven decisions, but the latter matters more when you are developing products.
Product Intelligence vs Product Innovation
Here again, the two concepts sound the same but are two separate ideas. Product innovation is the act of developing a product that is unlike anything currently available. That can mean creating an entirely new product, improving an existing product or expanding a current product so that it offers something unique.
Product intelligence fuels product innovation. In fact, identifying innovation opportunities is a common goal of implementing product intelligence. The data that is gathered can help product designers come up with new solutions to meet customer needs. It can also reveal ways in which the product is used that haven’t been previously considered. Follow-up testing gives a company a way to further analyze and evaluate product use so that decisions are based on data, not assumptions.
If your business is built on selling products, then product intelligence is a worthwhile endeavor. When product intelligence is implemented correctly it enables product innovation and improvements based on how customers use the existing product. It’s the extra piece of information that can make a company more competitive no matter what industry they’re in.