Turning Product Insights into Product Actions
Matin Movassate is the co-founder and CEO of Heap, a product analytics company. Movassate is a 2x Product Award Winner and Product Visionary with experience at Facebook as a product manager. Additionally, he interned at Google as an Associate Product Manager and Mozilla as a Software Engineer. Movassate earned a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Stanford University and completed coursework toward an M.S. in Computer Science.
He recently joined Products That Count for an informative fireside chat where he discussed technological and process-related strategies for bringing data into existing processes and making it easy for the entire product team (if not the company as a whole!) to share data and make better decisions.
During the fireside chat, Products That Count founding CEO, SC Moatti, hosted Heap Co-Founder and CEO, Matin Movassate, and had a lively discussion around product insights that was enjoyed by all attendees. The two crossed over during their time at Facebook and SC called Matin one of the smartest people she knows in the wide world of product. Matin did not disappoint.
On turning product insight data into action
Perhaps one of the biggest product insights Matin shared during his fireside chat was that data that isn’t enough to take action. Context is necessary for a great product manager to make any decisions based on the data.
“I’ll start with something that [product insight data] is not. It is not fancy AI and ML. I don’t think it’s that simple. A lot of tools out there now are trying to basically ride that wave. They’re suggesting that the only thing keeping your data from being actionable is fancy AI and ML. To me, if a product is being positioned that way to you, I think you should run away. That to me is a sign of technology trying to find a solution, not the other way around. So, I’ll start with that. I think it is decidedly not that.
In the end, you have to know what your goals are. What you’re actually trying to do? Are you trying to improve retention? Trying to improve conversion? Are you trying to understand whether a certain feature works? There are so many types of questions you can ask. So, context matters in terms of making data actionable.
No matter how beautiful. No matter how pristine. If it’s carefully curated by a data team, a single data point or a single dashboard has never been sufficient to get me to take action. For me to know how to take action, I need to dig in and really immerse myself in the context. A lot of what makes that data valuable is driving you to that next question to understand how to get even more data and to really immerse yourself in the context of the customer and the product.”
On using data to facilitate cross-functional collaboration and building better products
“First off, it doesn’t start with the data. It starts with the goals. Data is a means to an end. I don’t think any of us necessarily became product managers or product leaders because we’re excited about playing with data all day. We want to be product leaders because we want to build stuff that matters and align teams to be able to build stuff that matters.
The number one best practice is to be really good at aligning teams. Data is just one of those mechanisms. What I always try to encourage companies to do is to have a balance between quantitative data and qualitative data. Quantitative data is extremely good at aligning your on whether you succeeded or not.”
On the future of product insights
SC asked Matin how he thought businesses might be using product insights five years down the road.
“At a high level, I believe product teams will be far more rigorous than they ever have been. And I think a reason they haven’t been super rigorous in the past, it’s been a couple of reasons. One is, it’s hard to measure success on the product side, relative to say, our peers in sales or marketing. Additionally, the feedback loops are longer.
If you have some sort of product initiative, you have to ship it, you have to iterate on it, you have to wait for it to go live, you have to wait for customer feedback on it. Or you have to wait for it to drive some behavior that down the road drives some revenue or some growth. So, the feedback loops are really long. When feedback loops are long, that exacerbates the measurement issue. And when something’s hard to measure, it’s harder to justify the budget for it. That’s just how organizations work.
So, I think what we’ll see is a couple of things. Ultimately, product teams will need to be more rigorous. Essentially, if you step back and think about how fast and loose some product teams are and how some product leaders are it is actually quite astonishing. A major indictment of a lot of the fiduciary duties that leaders have, which is fundamentally if product teams are helping orient the company’s product direction. More specifically, helping orient the engineering work that happens. Engineers are really expensive.
What I think you’ll see is that companies, there will be one of two types of companies. You’ll be a company that takes product rigor really seriously. Or you will be out-executed by one that does. Because if you can be just marginally better at measuring and understanding whether your product efforts matter, you’ll move faster in the long run. You’ll lap the incumbents or companies who don’t take that level of rigor seriously. I think that will entail a lot of practices, one of which, obviously, is elevating data in terms of the product team’s discourse. However, I think there will be thematically more investment in making product teams rigorous.”