Productboard CEO wants to build a reputation for helping B2B firms tie features to customer needs

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As more organizations pursuing digital transformation find themselves creating new software, mobile apps and other tools to satisfy their customers, a company called Productboard has a simple but important mission: helping companies figure out what to build, and to figure it out more quickly.

Based in San Francisco, Productboard released an updated version of its product management system, which can be used be internal teams to gather feedback from a range of business functions to develop roadmaps that better meet customer needs.

Some of the major enhancements include a way to manage hierarchies of “big features” and the smaller ones that relate to them. A “Prioritization Matrix,” meanwhile, evaluates proposed changes or additions to a product in development based on the value it will offer customers versus the effort required to pull it off.

According to Hubert Palan, co-founder and CEO of Productboard, the company’s platform is evolving to reflect how the product management discipline common to the startup world needs to scale within large organizations or ones that are quickly scaling. This is becoming much harder to do because organizations typically don’t have enough time anymore to do the research they need and then manage it across spreadsheets, e-mail and other assorted productivity tools.

“You have the traditional incumbents and then digital transformation happens,” Palan told B2B News Network. “CIOs were responsible for internal tooling and making sure it supported business processes. Now you have chief digital officers or VPs of digital transformation who are asking, ‘How do we use technology to create whole new channels, to go to market with something that generates revenue and is not just a supporting function?’”

Product managers have the power to a company on the path to bankruptcy if they make the wrong decisions, Palan said, pointing to disasters among even the biggest tech giants, such as Google Glass. With the right tools, however, they could help engineer the kind of experience that turns a firm into the next Slack or UiPath (the latter of which is a Productboard customer).

He likened the process to the functioning of the human brain, where information flows in many different areas that aren’t always accessed at the same time, or in the same way.

“You need to unblock it in the company so the product people have a full picture of what’s happening out there,” he said, “all architected around customer insight.”

Productboard is seeking to stand out amid a growing number of firms in the product management space. This includes Aha, ProductPlan and Roadmunk, among others. Palan said part of the firm’s differentiation is by taking a more agnostic and holistic look at data, connecting to everything from customer relationship management systems to marketing automation and customer service platforms.

“A sales team is getting information about potential new customers, whereas a service team is learning from the customers you already have,” he said. “You need something that ties it all together, to visualize the roadmap. That way you can funnel the feedback back into the decision-making.”

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Shane Schick
Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.