Companies have to evolve over time. Markets change, needs change—really, everything changes. But how do you adjust your vision and strategy to not only align but capitalize on these changes? In this guide, we will discover how you can take advantage of a changing market and ensure you continue to develop your vision, strategy, and innovation alongside your products.
The most obvious strategy changes are those that can be seen by the public, as opposed to internal strategy changes. They include things like new product ideas and new solution ideas that you can bring to market, or even something smaller, like a new feature on an existing product. Let’s start out by talking about an example of long-term innovation and growth. I want to look at the telecommunications industry as a shining example of where innovation and a changing market are key drivers to success.
Telecommunications companies started with the invention of the telephone, but over the past 150 years their innovation has been staggering—and if we look at the past 20-30 years, it’s has been lighting speed. I bet many of us remember AOL dial-up and someone picking up the phone and disconnecting us from our internet. Just 20 years later, we get annoyed if any device we pick up is not connected with lighting speed.
The telecommunications companies that were able evolve their strategy from copper phone lines to basic cellular service to fiber optics to 5G cellular are the ones that are still seeing success today. However, those who did not innovate, change their strategy and move forward were left in the dust.
These are obviously huge innovations in the way the world works. It’s a very obvious example, which is why I wanted to share it. It really shows how innovation and evolving markets can make or break a company, and it’s something many of us are familiar with. Any telecommunications company that said, "Nah, we'll stick with copper, it’s working now" is probably not in existence anymore— by the time they changed their strategy, it was too little, too late. I bet many of us don’t even own a copper landline anymore.
We looked at the telecommunications market, which helps us understand why it’s so important to adjust your vision not just to keep pace but to ensure you survive. But how do you foresee these market changes?
One of the best things you can do is continue to look at analyst and market reporting as well as conduct research and surveys with individual customers. Many times, changes in the market are predicted. Foresight is the key to this. If you decide to change your vision after the market changes, it’s probably too late. It can take months and even years to launch a product, so you have to foresee and develop way ahead of time.
Working with industry analysts and competitive analysis will help you predict and take action on these changing market conditions. Predictions are not always 100% right, but they can guide you to make the vision and strategy changes necessary for companies and products.
A product road map is simply a vision for a product and where it is going over the next x number of years. But you need to realize the product has a life cycle. So what is next? After this product goes through its life cycle, you need to ensure that you that you have the next thing ready to go and that it aligns with the market conditions we talked about in the last section.
This sort of research from analysts, industry experts, and customers will not only help you map our your product and features, but also look at what is coming down the pipeline. Whose job is it to understand what is coming years in the future? We are about to dive into that.
As a product manager, you are reading this guide and wondering how you can figure out what is coming and what the vision and strategy is to adapt to market conditions. The reality is that this is not necessarily your job.
It is the job of the executive staff to develop company vision and strategy for many years down the road and share what that looks like. This strategy and vision includes not ony products, but also internal processes and procedures. It can have goals such as hiring, diversity, environmental considersations, etc. Once this vision is provided, you can align your product strategy with the overall strategy. Check out my guide on aligning company and product mission and strategy to fully understand how to do this.
You are not responsible for keeping up with all market conditions at a company level, but you should contribute to the company strategy. And once that strategy is identified, you can then align your products with it.
It is imperative that a company’s vision and strategy changes as markets change, and markets always change. You need to contribute to that vision and strategy, and once it is developed, align your products and services with it.
There is nothing more important to keeping yourself relevant as an organization. Without strategy and vision changes, you will find yourself still on a rotary phone long after everyone else has moved on.