In the latest episode of our Age of Product series for Product Talk, Microsoft fmr Product Lead and Products That Count CPO James Gray sits down with Universal Electronics Product Director Nikki Ahmadi to discuss the superpowers available to product managers during the conceive stage of the product life cycle.
Nikki Ahmadi is a cloud and software product leader, currently serving as Universal Electronics Director of Product, where she works with a global team of talented engineers and architects in designing and implementing innovative solutions from product inception to production. Nikki believes what truly drives innovation is a passion for improving people’s everyday lives by building products that leave a lasting impact, disrupt the industry, and are vehicles of change while providing the best user experience.
The conceive stage of the product life cycle can feel a bit like being handed a book where only the last page is written. You know where you need to end up, but you still need to start writing. For product leaders, this can be a lot like knowing the customer’s problem and needing to create the fix.
On the superpowers of the conceive stage
While ideation and conception can be some of the most exciting parts of the product life-cycle, all that raw creative energy is for a goal. Eventually, it has to lead to a product that solves a problem. Universal Electronics Product Director Nikki Ahmadi shared great insight with listeners on concept development, and how to get from whiteboard to production line.
“In my opinion, the conceive stage is one of the most important, fun, and creative phases in building a product. At this stage, you’re dealing with a blank slate, and really, it’s all about ideation. For a mature product, you have a few inputs that take into account: the state of the industry and market research, and most importantly, what your customers are telling you. Their needs and their demands. At this stage, you need to be highly analytical. Ultimately, you don’t want to end up in a situation where you’re chasing trends. That can be very difficult to do at times, especially if you’re close to the industry.”
“First is idea generation, which is very exciting. This is where ideas and breakthroughs come about. They are generated through a process that fosters creativity and value creation in somewhat of a systematic manner.”
“The second part of the conceive stage is idea screening or product discovery. This is where you go out there and talk to potential customers and gather feedback. Last, is also one of my favorites. It’s idea hackathons or concept development.”
On the Age of Product
Every stage of the product life-cycle holds weight and ultimately drives the success of a product. The conceive stage is unique, however, because it is here when the first foundation is laid, and the blueprints are drawn. Doing that correctly while anticipating future problems, leads to the successful execution of everything that comes after.
“Deciding what it is that you will be investing in, which is the conceive stage, becomes very important to the overall success of the company. Your shareholders, of course, care about how you will be spending the resources that you have. So, it goes without saying that in the Age of Product, where products have a seat in the C suite, this stage becomes so crucial. It’s important because this is where you determine how to spend the dollars.”
“I worked at some really large companies that did not have product in an official capacity, but really looking back, I was doing product. My discipline at the time was in the engineering department, and the name was IPT, or Integrated Product Team. So, although we did not have an official product team, I say this to highlight that the Age of Product actually started a long time ago. It’s not so new. It’s always been there with different terminology, but a lot more focus is put on product today.”
About the speaker
Nikki is a cloud and software product Director who works with a global team of talented engineers and architects in designing and implementing innovative solutions from product inception to production. After spending over a decade working in product engineering and management for multimillion dollar technology and start-up companies, Nikki believes what truly drives innovation is not only a commitment to technological breakthroughs but also people’s passion in improving everyday lives by building products that leave a lasting impact, disrupt the industry, and are vehicles of change, while providing the best user experience. When Nikki isn’t working on her next big product release or entrepreneurial endeavors she is spending much needed time with friends and family discussing the latest politics, or simply the meaning of life. She’s an adventurous traveler who also enjoys capturing moments through photography. Nikki also holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering , M.S. in Electrical Engineering and has a corporate innovation certificate as part of the LEAD program.