Location Data Providers

The Evolution of a Product: How A Product Goes From Idea To Reality

November 16, 2018
Kaylin Zeuske
Product Manager

Here at Unacast, we have a lot of ideas about how we can better build the future of location data. But what do we do with all of these ideas? How do they get turned into products and features? How do we make sense of them in this fast-paced environment, and how do we quickly deliver new products and features to our clients?

Honestly, there isn’t one written script of how ideas make it into production. Ideas can take many forms and sizes and how we act on them depends on how they’ll impact our business and our clients. We also re-evaluate our process frequently, making improvements so what has worked in the past, will eventually be different from how it works now.

I’ll walk you through some of the ways in which we take ideas and develop them into products and features. The very same products and features that ultimately end up in the hands of our clients.

Where Do Ideas Come From?

Products and features don’t come out of thin air! They evolve from ideas that arise from problems that we and our clients face. We have cross functional product teams where technical and commercial people are working together to solve client problems and to find new ways to analyze and use location data.

Ideas come from our clients and from anyone in any role at Unacast - a client that makes a request or uncovers something new in product discovery with the R&D team, the sales team who hears something new while speaking with prospects, product leaders who have an idea of what will fit a market need, a data scientist who has a better methodology to implement, data engineers who think of a more efficient way to process the data, or data analysts that find a new way to use the data, the list goes on.

Taking An Idea and Evaluating Impact

After sourcing ideas, we figure out the viability of the idea and where it falls on the (simplified) framework below:

  1. Ease of delivery - how easy is it for us to create a proof of concept (POC) or minimum viable product (MVP)?
  2. Client impact - are clients wanting to use this ASAP?
  3. Alignment with company goals - does it align with our strategic initiatives and goals?
  4. Depending on the answers to these questions, we’ll determine the path.

It’s Go (or Wait) Time

If we have a quick way to get to a POC, there’s urgency on the client’s part, and it aligns with company goals - it’s a no brainer - we’ll spin up a POC to deliver quickly to the client while we work to fully productize after we gather feedback. We do this either through our R&D team or we find people who are capable and available to work on the POC.

If there is a desirable MVP or POC but not much urgency, or it will take a bit of effort to get there but it aligns with the company goals, we’ll put it into our backlog for assessment as part of the next quarter’s OKRs, or until there is a change in status.

Some ideas don’t score highly across these categories. These would be projects that are too expensive to implement, where there is not much client urgency, or where there is minimal to no alignment with current company goals. These we will put in the backlog to evolve.

Iterating‍

At this point we have either put an idea in the backlog or we have created a POC or MVP - now what?

We iterate.

Typically our team has good ideas about what the next path could be for the evolution of a product. This is usually a way to make it better or more useful given what we have seen and discussed while building. However, before going any further we have to gather feedback from clients and from the commercial team. Above all, we aim to build products that will be useful for clients and problems they are trying to solve. After clients use our products, we’ll have a much better sense of what’s working, what’s not, and what could be more useful.

Sounds like more ideas, right? YES - and here we have come full circle! We start again at evaluating these ideas in the framework and determine if they should be acted on immediately, put into our OKRs or roadmap, or left to ruminate until more information is gathered.

Prioritization

It is a constant balancing act of listening to new ideas, evolving them or letting them fizzle for now. Ultimately, we figure out how we can move the needle towards our goal to enable us and our clients to build better products and make smarter decisions with location data.

We have no shortage of ideas here at Unacast. There are many problems that location data can solve, and with creative product teams, engaged clients and dynamic client solutions and sales teams, we have ideas popping up constantly.