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Highlights from CPO Summit 2021

May 20, 2021 By: Alex Torres

The Chief Product Officer (CPO) Summit brought together product leaders from a number of companies, including Citi, Pearson, Dataminr, Mastercard, MGM Resorts, and Quantum Metric. Product leaders spent the day discussing the evolving role of the CPO, how to build standout product teams, data-driven approaches to product, business partnerships, and much more. 

Here’s a look at some of the highlights from the CPO Summit, including a talk by Product Lab’s Melissa Perri and Quantum Metric’s Christine Tran, as well as a roundtable hosted by Quantum Metric’s Tom Arundel.

Highlights from CPO Summit

Heather James, Founder of the Product-Led Alliance, opened the conference with a warm introduction to product leaders. 

In “Leverage Feedback Loops to Build Better Products,” panelists from Pearson, GE Digital, FullStory, Clubhouse, and Mastercard discussed how product management teams can deliver value based on customer feedback, as well as separating important customer signals from all of the other noise. 

Panelists from Schneider Electric, Citi, Heyday.ai, Mixpanel and GoodData met to discuss the role of the “Data-Driven CPO.” Together, they reminded the audience that product decisions should be based on the customer data that is most directly tied to business outcomes, brand loyalty, and customer satisfaction. 

In “How to Build a Good Product Strategy,” representatives from SAP SuccessFactors, Facebook, Productboard, Premise Data, and Barnes & Noble elaborated on how a solid product strategy requires communication, identifying the most important KPIs, ensuring cross-functional communication across all teams, and maintaining a powerful product management vision.

The final panel of the day, “Business Developments & Partnerships,” featured speakers from Dataminr, PlutoTV at ViacomCVS, Dyspatch, Logi Analytics, and Google. Topics included the impact of business development on product development, communication between business development and product teams, as well as how Covid-19 shifted the sales cycle, which will have an ongoing impact on product teams.

“Need for Speed: Extend Agile to Build More Customer-Focused Products Faster”

In “Need for Speed: Extend Agile to Build More Customer-Focused Products Faster”

Quantum Metric’s own Christine Tran sat down with Melissa Perri to discuss building customer-focused products and the role of product management.

According to Melissa Perri, many teams fail at understanding their goal for the team, organizations, and other stakeholders. Product teams need to solve a problem for both the customer and business, which means placing good bets on improving the product. 

“Sit down with the thing you’re building right now,” Perri explained. “Don’t tear it up, don’t go crazy.” No product will ever be perfect ever, and especially at launch time. Her advice? Focus on always improving it. 

Before starting to experiment with products, however, Perri explained that teams need to identify and clarify problems. This process involves thinking about buyer personas, user personas, and the overall goals of the business. 

After Tran asked Perri about hypothesis testing, she noted, “Product management is about thriving in ambiguity.” As Perri explained, people need to pull data and remember that nothing is certain. Engineering, customer support, and operations have their own set of metrics to evaluate the business’s health; product’s metrics bring the team together by focusing on whether the product is successful with customers. 

For Perri, product teams should always be asking the question, “When you ship this, what do you expect to happen?”

In the lightning round, Tran asked Perri a number of questions, including  “What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew ten years ago?” For Perri, it was recognizing the importance of communication skills and people, not just technology. 

“Don’t Just Build Faster – Learn Faster with Customer Empathy!”

Quantum Metric’s Tom Arundel hosted a roundtable discussion that was attended by serial entrepreneurs, corporate marketers, product marketing directors, and others. Attendees came from a wide range of industries. Some of their organizations included Blizzard Entertainment, Penguin Books, Hudl, Instacart, high growth startups, and enterprise SaaS companies.

Arundel spoke about “bridging customer caps” by focusing on “customer centricity,” as well as “learning fast, failing fast.” The challenge, then, is to identify the product market fit by turning to customer empathy and feedback. 

When asked whether it was technology, organizational issues, or process that slowed the team down, most of the attendees said it was usually problems focused on company hierarchies or people, not technology.

Arundel explained that many digital enterprises face two major problems: “an Inability to be truly data driven and meeting customer expectations” and “misalignment across the teams,” including Business, IT, product, UX, ops, analytics, and agile. In his own experience working at Marriott, Arundel explained it was difficult to understand “which story the data was telling.” Even though the business was doing well financially, it wasn’t reaching its full potential. Teams operated in silos, and there was no single view of the truth. This made it difficult to determine which activities to invest in. 

When it takes a long time to find out what isn’t working, Arundel explained, organizations lose confidence in their customers. 

Bethany Williams, one of the roundtable attendees, said that organizations often “come with preconceived thoughts” about what a product should look like. Design thinking, UX research, human-centered design, and other approaches, on the other hand, can help people look at problems differently by incorporating perspectives from architects, scientists, and designers. 

But while best testing and focus groups can be helpful, Williams noted, companies must remember that they are not in the actual customer environment. 

According to Arundel, one way to tackle the problem of misalignment and siloing is by adapting “Continuous Product Design,” a methodology that tackles the issues slowing down teams the most. With Continuous Product Design, teams share one version of the truth–data that is tied to the customer as well as the business’s KPIs. This enables teams to invest in meaningful products with the customer in mind, innovate faster, and foster a more collaborative environment. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Continuous Product Design, take our 1-hour CPD certification course today for free.

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