Ever since the pandemic hit, the dynamics of work have dramatically changed. While every business across the globe was trying to grab every potential opportunity to stay operational, product companies may have a different game going on. The entire enterprise world got forced into a form of digital transformation. For product companies, the task became to roll out business solutions to fit the new drift of remote working. Given the competition, enterprise software product companies had to make the move fast, or at least faster than their competitors.
As a result, the new normal doesn’t seem to have created any reasons for product companies to slow down product innovation. The demand for digital products certainly hasn’t waned as the rising adoption of cloud products, collaboration solutions, digitization tools, security infrastructure, and the like show.
That said, budget plans for 2020 definitely had to be reoriented due to COVID-19 and product development is not the same as it was six months ago.
With product developers and innovators finally settling into the working from home phenomena and the end of the year coming up, there’s a visible surge in the product development activity. If you are a product manager looking to add a valuable array of features and functionalities to your products before the holiday season begins, here are product improvements that you can make with the budget you have left for 2020.
1. Product Usability
With global workforces shifting to remote operations, the most important element to consider is how the product fares in the new remote working normally. The users essentially are a legion of employees working from home. For empowering them, improving the usability of the product should become a key priority. Products with a shorter learning curve and intuitive workflows that can be set up and used without specialized IT or technical help are going to be loved by the customers as opposed to complex, clumsy products that take forever to master.
2. Operability and device diversity
It is important to note that remote working employees will be connected to the enterprise tools they use from home networks, often shared with other members in the house. This creates a bunch of issues, for instance, bandwidth not quite at par with the one available in the conventional office setup. Enterprise product architecture needs to be aligned with this change. The focus should be on architectural changes to the product that makes it stable over lower bandwidth and doesn’t limit the functionality.
Also, the employees are most likely using a combination of company-owned and BYO devices and the product improvements and design should support as many diverse devices as possible, to help maintain the productivity for your customers.
Maintaining security while remote working is a prime concern for businesses. A survey suggested that 71% of employees that participated believed that remote working has increased the risk of a cyber breach. Thanks to this, plus the obvious possibility of potential security threats, the demand for product changes around security is at an all-time high. There is an array of security challenges to factor in, unsecured WiFi, unknown devices, shared infrastructure, lack of updates, etc. Product managers who want to make product improvements have to consider spending more time and budgets working on security features if they already aren’t.
The spending on cloud technology had anyway been consistently increasing over the last 5 years. With remote working, cloud technology is more important than ever, especially to ensure consistent collaboration and access across distributed teams. If moving to the cloud was in your technical roadmap, there couldn’t be a better time to do it. Creating products powered by the cloud should be on your list ASAP. The need is for putting in place robust cloud infrastructure and NOW is a great time to do just that.
5. Licensing and user management
The silent enterprise champions of COVID-19 are the IT teams across the world making remote working possible in the true sense. Ensuring that every employee has proper license agreement in place for each product they use to work, reassigning licenses and managing users are major challenges for the IT teams. Product managers can lighten the load of enterprise IT by focusing on product improvements that simplify license assignment and reassignment. The enterprise IT team will thank the product manager who manages to keep this task straightforward. Once they solve user management, they can move on to other, more pressing issues.
COVID-19 has impacted the way organizations perceived remote work and the idea of distributed teams in general. Enterprises everywhere have settled into the new way of working but they have made compromises aplenty on the way there. In what is left of the time and the budgets of 2020, product managers would do well to determine exactly what those gaps are so they can plug them. That will be the best way to make the most of what remains of the year.