Thursday, August 7, 2014

Design Thinking and the blurring of Product Management and Marketing

An outstanding colleague of mine, +Scott Souder send me a link to a very fascinating article on design thinking:

As makers of technology we might also understand deeply that design is not just about how a product looks but how it works: components that enable people to use your product, and how it all fits together. All that cascades from your company’s strategy, values, and principles, and the scope of the problem you choose to tackle. All of that manifests itself in the design of the experiences you offer.

It's one of they design principles that is being used for a new IBM collaboration offering under development, one of the first from our new Design Thinking.

I've been thinking a lot more about design since IBM announced a major new initiative to re-infuse design thinking across the company. A company that had been known for outstanding design in the 60s (including in our real estate, just look at some of the gorgeous pictures of not just products but buildings on IBM's Instagram account) had sorta kinda de-emphasized some of those principles. It looks like we've happily rediscovered that.

I've been a fan of good design every since I saw an unbelievable retrospective of Japanese post-war consumer design in London way back in 1992. There are so many implications of design thinking it spins the mind. But one in particular that has surfaced for me personally is a very practical consideration.

With the rise of cloud, mobile and social computing, user expectations have been radically shifted by designs that favor lightweight, often single-purpose, apps that "play nicely with others" and "just work". That implies that the app is the experience, and the experience is the app. That further implies that the lines between product management (feature, function, traditional offering design) and marketing (communications to drive awareness, interest and consideration of the offering) are blurring -- very rapidly.

Product management has to take into account the entire purchase lifecycle because it's easier than ever to not just pick up a new app, but to drop it as well. On the marketing side, 70% of the purchase decision now happens outside of the brand's direct properties (its website, it's direct sellers). So the days of a clean, sharp handoff between the product experience (trial, purchase, use) and the marketing experience (learn, solve, compare) are, for all intents and purposes, gone.

The very relationship between product management and marketing is changing rapidly. I certainly don't have any answers yet as this is just starting to hit me, hard. But I'm very excited to see how the possibilities play out here.

How about you? If you're a marketer or product manager, is your experience similar? How are you dealing (or not dealing) with the shift?

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