Killer Features or Killer Products?

If you're a seasoned product manager, you must have heard about the "killer feature" that enabled product X to dominate the market, or product Y to completely change the paradigm for all competitors.
By definition, this is a revolutionary change, that was missed by competitors either because of 
a) lack of investment
b) lack of understanding
c) lack of interest
d) different strategic priorities

However, the "killer feature" seldom emerges in today's agile world. Products have "incremental" features, and the product team's focus is on hedging their bets by making small tweaks in different functional areas. And no, allowing seamless data transfer over the internet or improving your perimeter security is never a revolutionary change (it can be good marketing spiel).

So are all companies doomed to create "me-too" products? More often that not, business strategy still dictates that a large company enter a segment or country, where it's competitor is entrenched (Google Wave?). Additionally, it is easier to get incremental budget to introduce 10 new features, than to invest in a completely new idea (those are usually doomed within innovation labs in large firms.)

Unless your firm is a dominant software vendor, you will end up working on those me-too products, building incremental features, based on "competitive analysis" and prioritized based on the skills of your engineering teams.
To make a paradigm shift, which is itself a big career risk, you need to pitch your idea and the business case, to a business decision maker. Only if there is buy-in, can you even hope for investment in that idea.
And the decision maker must be convinced of the benefit of supporting this, for their career. Otherwise, you are probably better off recommending a strategic investment in a startup, or identifying a potential acquisition.

No comments:

Post a Comment