Product Development in a New Era

Being one of the older members of the company I’m classed as a digital¬†immigrant (i.e. I was introduced into the digital world rather than grew up with it) rather than a digital native, however that said, I was the first person at my school to use a personal computer (1976), was in the first year of children to be allowed to use a calculator in my maths exams (1978) and was very active at the start of the dot com boom in the 90′s.

With all this background and experience you would think that developing a product, be it a application or a website or an App. then I’d be pretty comfortable in this space which in truth I am but unlike the early days the speed of development means that getting to market is faster but also that failure also is faster.

I cannot get over just how fast developers can produce code, it seems that when I developed some of my first website systems (theAA.com or IF.com) then the process was slow and cumbersome, the user requirements seemed to take almost a third of the project time but never stopped, the development took another third and testing the remaining time but significantly the overall effort was a lot bigger and the capability a lot smaller but the secrecy around the projects were vital as it was always felt that you must keep it secret until the launch so that you had a competitive advantage of being the first to market.

Today everything has changed, secrecy has been replaced and users are being engaged earlier, the development and testing has been rolled into one and the overall effort has been reduced from the thousands of hours to hundreds maybe a tenth of what we did all those years ago.

By engaging earlier, even prior to development, using social networks we can get feedback almost immediately and with the use of crowd sourcing then product refinement is substantially improved.