Following on from an exciting day yesterday, day two of #mtpcon Digital APAC saw more engaging keynote speakers covering data, commercial discovery, and purpose-driven products. We also enjoyed some exciting breakout sessions ranging from tech leadership to digital transformation, and even had a bit of spare time for chit chat over some coffee and doughnuts.
Here’s what went on…
Without data decisions still get made — good and bad
Crystal Widjaja, Executive-In-Residence at Reforge, opened the conference by explaining how many companies fail to make data a strategic advantage.
“Data absent decision making happens all the time,” she said. “As a product manager, it’s important to realise business decisions don’t stop getting made, and in the absence of data, they just end up getting made without any sort of data at all.”
To avoid bad decisions coming from a lack of data, Crystal advised that a sensible data strategy is key. She offered a helpful framework, broken down into different stages — survival, functionality, and form.
Survival, she said, is in knowing what it’s going to take for you to stay in the game. “Beyond that, start adding functionality for more tracking and insights. Finally, the polished form, the product your consumers leverage and understand.” It’s this thoughtful sequencing of architectural engineering work, analytics and the application of those analytics to the business and products that help drive and unlock growth.
You can improve the dynamic between commercial and product
Having seen a lot of conflict between Business and Product throughout his career, Yi-Wei Ang, CPO at Talabat (Delivery Hero), wanted to find a way to maximize the ways these different departments work together. In his keynote, he explained how it and why it should be done.
He talked a little about the history of the product manager role and how it’s evolving. Product managers are more and more expected to track product-led solutions that drive the business forward. Becoming a product-led organisation, he said, is not easy, it takes time and work, but it is doable. “We need to be able to do what impacts the bottom line, because that’s what the business cares about. We need to align the work that we do with the metrics set by the company.”
Your job is to pull all the pieces together. “In my opinion, this is how it evolves the product organisation evolves as a product manager, you now have to think about not just the product, but how it all comes into harmony as a business unit,” he says. However, you can’t do it alone. Cross collaboration and communication is key to creating an efficient dynamic between commercial and product.
To be a successful Purpose-Driven Product, you have to care
Closing the conference, CPO at Gojek, Bruce Haldane used his keynote to share Gojek’s take on being a purpose-driven product.
Going back to 2010 he told the story of how Gojek came to being. He explained how Gojek has gone from a call centre to a super app and how, despite such rapid growth, Gojek has continued to care every step of the way, always putting the customer first.
With that in mind, Bruce explained the importance of Gojek’s Customer Lens Framework is key — a way to keep asking ‘are our customers happy, are they delivering value and are we growing?’.
“It is possible to have incredible growth, and to be a very ethical, and socially responsible, and consumer-first product company.” To do this, he said. you must look after everybody in your ecosystem.
Navigate the messy world of product through stages
Dotted around day two, attendees joined engaging breakout speaker sessions between the keynotes. On the menu today were topics ranging from digital transformation to connecting with customers…
Anthony Murphy, Lead, Product and Agility at UST Global shared key insights into dealing with product at different organisations at different stages
Because you’re not working with large teams at start-up stage, product managers may face alignment issues due to a lack of constant contact with stakeholders and C-suite level members. Anthony advised us to always be looking for opportunities, be aware of the paradox between focusing on ‘now’ vs ‘later. “As you scale, you need to be more strategic in focusing on your future. Consistently reflect on where you are and where you’re going.
It’s imperative to understand where you are when you reach the scale/sme stage. “Does the way that we deal with customer and product growth scale? We need to consistently be looking to understand that,”
Be clear with your team members to ensure that you’re clear on everyone’s goals. He advised creating a role expectation framework to ensure effective communication and collaboration. While doing so, become friends with other teams such as marketing, sales and customer success. You can often become disconnected as companies scale, this constant collaboration and culture are key.
Continuous discovery is key at the enterprise stage. Set up rituals to connect with customers, other competitors, and stakeholders to receive an external understanding
Adopt continuous learning in technology
Silvia Thom, Chief Technology Officer at Zalora, explained how she transitioned from a role in product to a chief technology officer role in product. She shared some of the challenges that she faced in making this role change.
She advised to consistently be looking to learn as you’re dealing with a much more technical focused position. With a fast-growth company, weigh up the technical debt vs business growth. As a product leader, you already have the skills and knowledge to understand these business and technical roles as a starting point. Embrace that opportunity and develop your skills further.
Collaborative remote product teams
What does it look like for a product team to collaborate, remotely and in person? Gav Moule from Lucidspark walked us through some tips and tricks on how to facilitate Agile workshops using Lucidspark boards — they let you add emojis to sticky notes like you’re reacting to a message in Slack, offer spell check, and you can insert GIFs. Minds blown.
We’re all on the same team
Priscilla Anais, AVP at Tokopedia, discussed the importance of collaboration between Business and Product and that ultimately we need to remember that we’re all on the same team. With better collaboration, she said, you’re better placed to keep up with business context and market dynamics, more likely to deliver winning execution and to yield more product-centric people.
Of course, she said, it’s challenging! To help, she discussed six tools including: shared vision, shared currency and North Star metrics, communication and decision-making protocols, a template for co-creation and shared language, and wearing a CEO hat. “Instead of asking what makes sense for you as a product team, ask everyone in the room, ‘if you’re the CEO of the company, which initiative do you believe to be most important?’. Wearing that CEO hat is a reminder that you’re all on the same team.”
Get everyone involved on your digital journey
More and more organisations are embarking on ambitious digital transformation initiatives. Amjad Sidqi, Managing Director at Pivotal Labs steered us through some pitfalls and the path to a successful digital journey.
Many organisations struggle to scale. This is due to scaling too early, facing an identity crisis, or facing a team cohesion issue. He explained how organisations often fail to scale effectively. 70% of companies fail due to resistance from employees while only 7% have fully implemented their digital transformations.
Amjad advised us to not scale teams, and focus more on teams and functions. He says, “Decompose your business functions decompose teams, and start to stretch out more teams based around your business functions and scale as and when you need to, don’t spend loads of money on a digital journey.”
When you feel like you’re ready to embark on digital transformation, create a cross-functional team to try and understand the problems you face together. Doing so will help companies understand the problems and how to best overcome them in a collaborative mindset.
Engage and connect with customers
From having a solution-first approach to not knowing the customer well enough, Smriti Pant, Product Manager at Hike, walked us through a range of rookie product manager mistakes and how to overcome them.
For each mistake, she shared a real-world example that brought it to life — examples like customers complaining about waiting for a slow hotel elevator. Smriti explained how a rookie product manager might tackle the customer complaints in the situation. The key, she said, was in knowing the customer and why they were complaining. The answer? They had nothing to occupy their time. The solution? Install a mirror. Just like that, she said, the complaints went down.
The takeaways from all of the examples she concluded were “talk to your customers, speak to your customers, know your customers, listen to them, and engage with them,” she said. “Only when you solve it is when your product will see a great uptake.”
Stay tuned for more
Thank you to everyone who joined us for day two and to our wonderful crew and sponsors for all of their support. If you’re a Mind the Product member, you’ll be able to access all of the incredible keynote talk and session videos on Friday (16th April) on your membership dashboard.
Not yet a member? Join today! Got membership with your #mtpcon Digital ticket? Activate your account today — instructions on how to access your new membership (if included with your event ticket) can be found in any email you receive about the event.