This week on Product Talk, it’s all about data. We welcome to the mic Indicative CEO, Jeremy Levy, for a fantastic discussion with our host, Samsung NEXT Product Lead, Thomas Daly. In the episode, they touch on what it means to trust your gut during product development, the ways data can improve decision-making, and the lessons learned when building a leading data analytics company. Catch the entire episode above, and run through the highlights below.
On advice to product managers
There’s no better place to gain career advice than from leading CEOs and product executives. Jeremy starts the episode off by sharing more about his own journey into data analytics and what set him on the entrepreneurial path.
“The advice I would give everyone is start a business or join a startup. You will never learn more or get more exposure. I think there’s a lot of value in working at a big company in terms of best practices and seeing how things are done at scale. In my experience, though, you can get a little bit pigeonholed in your lane. If you really want exposure, to find out what you’re good at, or find out what excites you, startups are phenomenal places to learn.”
“I really believe in the notion of “fail fast.” The sooner you make a decision and execute on it, or at least begin to go down that path, the sooner you’ll realize whether or not it was the right or wrong decision. If it’s the wrong one, it doesn’t really matter in so much that you learned why it was wrong, and you can adjust immediately.”
“I think a lot of people can get into analysis paralysis. At the end of the day, it’s better to make any decision than to not make a decision at all.”
On using data analytics
The state of data and data analytics has come leaps and bounds in recent years. Thomas points out that in the 2000s data lived in disparate siloed databases with access limited to those who knew SQL. Jeremy gives listeners insights into the new world of data analytics and the ways product leaders can use data to reinforce decision-making during product development.
“The way I see most product teams use data is to help inform a hypothesis. Product, for a great long time, has had methodology centered around different quantitative and qualitative ways of evaluating information in order to make decisions. The way we think about it, is how can we more quickly get you that information so that you can get to the point where you have the competence to trust your gut?”
“Data will help you make better decision, but it’s only one part of the equation. It’s a mistake when people look to data to provide definitive, conclusive answers. Data is like any other part of information that you have when it comes to making a decision, and should be treated as such.”
On what makes a great product manager
While data analytics can certainly help product managers make decisions, there are many aspects to being a great product manager. Jeremy shares his insights on our favorite question, leading from a technology perspective.
Number one: a good grasp of technology is really important. If you want to conceptualize what is possible, and you don’t have some notion of understanding technology and how it works, it’s almost like you have one arm tied on your back. I generally recommend to anyone that wants to go down the product line to at the very least take a programming class.”
“Second, is people skills. A good product leader has to be able to interface with people across all different types of skill sets who have different types of personalities. At the end of the day, this person really needs to have the ability to work with someone who’s very nuanced in detail, and then work with someone who is thinking about the product vision, without skipping a beat.”
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About the host
Thomas Daly is Principal Product Manager at Samsung NEXT leading zero to one initiatives. Prior to that, he served as the Chief Product Officer for Spacious.com, which was later acquired by The We Company (WeWork). Before that, Daly was at Samsung Electronics by way of an acquisition of BOXEE, a TV-connected streaming device. He has worked in various product roles for nearly 15 years.