Google Product Lead on Data Products
Before big data was a known term, Dacheng Zhao has pioneered innovative data products that make an impact at scale. There are plenty of attributes that make data products unique in how they provide solutions to users. Dacheng outlines why data products matter and how great data drives compelling product solutions.
How Data Products Create Real Solutions
Like most product managers, my career started in a completely different field – which for me was management consulting. After a while, I realized that what I really wanted to do was build products. Specifically, I wanted to take small items and turn them into large-scale solutions. Since becoming a product manager, I’ve been fortunate to work for companies who are committed to producing data products that deliver meaningful solutions for users.
There are multiple factors that go into creating great products. However, using data effectively can quickly create an experience that will delight customers at scale. For example, one of the first data products that I created at LinkedIn was a “career forecaster” solution. In other words, we could use LinkedIn’s vast data set to map a user’s career alongside someone whose career followed a similar trajectory. Specifically, we identified users that were five years further along in their career than a targeted user.
On the surface, this is a very unique solution and one that I’d say is easy to say provides value. Furthermore, you would think that its success was purely driven by the user experience. However, the secret sauce in great data products is the quality of the data. Without LinkedIn’s database of user profiles and data points to draw from, there’s no way that the “career forecaster” would have been that successful. Simply put, you can create a delightful experience for users if you have great data behind it.
Along these lines, my career as a product manager has revolved exclusively around data products.
To me, the motivation for making great products always comes back to one thing. It’s all about taking a problem that’s hard to quantify and making a credible solution to solve it. Furthermore, I would never consider building a product that didn’t bring tangible delight to its user base.
For example, I’m drawn to data products that are task-specific and provide value for people’s daily activities. Similarly, my current focus at Google is to analyze our user data in ways to improve efficiency with advertising spends on our platform. Ultimately, impactful products are those that draw from a wide dataset that enables unique solutions to take shape and make an immediate difference for users.