There are many challenges facing product development organizations today. Gone are the days of building products and creating features just because they’re cool or interesting. We rely on marketing to tell us ‘why’ our product is special, relevant, and necessary, but identifying ‘what’ we develop is the challenge development organizations struggle with today.
The question is: ‘Who knows what to build?’ In traditional thinking the answer is obvious - the application users do! Early in my career, I used to sit down with my customers and watch them use my products. Watching them wait for the application as they grumble about performance can be highly motivational; and, rewarding when you can deliver significant improvements. In other situations, I would work with my most disgruntled users only to notice them taking their time, following the manual and praising the product. Not only was this approach not scalable but it was my first introduction to the Hawthorne Effect
. Finally, surveys have proven to be anecdotal at best. Are you more interested in feedback from users who have the time to fill out a survey or from the power users of your application? None of these approaches addresses the fact that applications have many different types of users. If applications were able to communicate their performance, stability, most used features, least used features, etc., then the answer to ‘Who knows what to build?’ is easy: the application itself.
Many companies have recognized the value of knowing what to build. They have spent millions of dollars building application monitoring solutions in-house. Product managers and development managers understand that there is a high cost of turning your development team’s focus away from core product development. But, what if a product manager could task a build manager and an architect for a day to instrument an application to answer questions such as: How often is this feature used? How has application performance changed with each version? Are my beta customers really testing the latest features? If this is possible, this intelligence is no longer a cost but an investment.
As the product manager of the Runtime Intelligence product and services, I want to get you thinking about application awareness and its possibilities. I am interested in seeing how valuable this information would be to you. If you were given the ability to monitor your application, what would you want to know? How many of you have implemented your own solution to monitor your applications? Is it still being used today? In my next few posts, I am going to discuss how our customers understand the ‘what’ by using Runtime Intelligence.