Have you ever shipped a product? Before you say “no”, I would probably say “yes”.
Think about that music compilation cassette tape, CD, or playlist you made for a special someone, friend or party. Remember now? Did he/she/they like it?
If she did like it, it was probably because you thought about her listening to it as you poured your heart into the song selection, the play-list order, and the fade between songs.
You thought…what are her favorite songs that she heard playing in your car? What songs has she told you that she loves – maybe via a smile, perhaps during a movie, or maybe via a thumbs up on Pandora. Likely you placed a song into the mix that was new to her, one that you thought she would like because what you know about her. If you’ve done this, then you’ve built a product. If she/he liked it, and still listens to it today (years later), then you built a really successful product.
When you built this product you were only successful because you listened to what he/she wanted, and you added in what you knew about them when you built it. You cared about her liking it. If you hadn’t taken her into account then your friend who enjoys 80s couples-skate music, will have received your Judas Priest/Ratt compilation and lied to you about how she liked it.
Scale this to what 10 friends like, and you can build a product for an Enterprise, such as the Department of Defense, P&G ($PG), Intel ($INTC), Alcoa ($AA), or other. Scale this process to 1M users, and you’ve built a product that Consumers are enjoying (StockTwits, Facebook, etc).
The process to understand what a successful Enterprise product looks like involves interaction with multiple enterprises in the segment you are targeting. It requires listening for pain points that are revealed as you understand their business processes. It means you understand their corporate software stack. Windows? Oracle? SAP? The point here is that you need to listen, and it doesn’t take 20 customer to learn, it take a number <10 in most cases to get traction.
On the Consumer product front, it’s just not enough to talk to 10 consumers. Unless you are Steve Jobs having an intuition unlike any other seen before, you do need to do user research. You need to Continue reading