Virtualization Technology News and Information
New Product, Existing Market: 8 Tips for Addressing Common Pitfalls

By Alex Tkatch, Senior Director of Software Engineering, BitTitan

Many product development teams have learned that a common pitfall when designing a new technology product is getting stuck in the early-build phase. They often stall because they're developing new software solutions that rely on existing infrastructure or product code base. And this reliance often limits the innovation required to create new solutions with unique and compelling value propositions.

While relying on existing code can be enticing to help speed through early development stages, sometimes it makes more sense to build a new solution from the ground up to enable greater flexibility in design and functionality.

BitTitan experienced this dilemma firsthand when the product development team began work on Voleer, software that automates IT tasks in governance, security, productivity, adoption, and cost optimization.

After wrestling with various strategies, the team decided that rather than relying on code from MigrationWiz, BitTitan's signature solution, they'd build Voleer from the ground up. This decision allowed them to move from a mere product concept to a successful launch of Voleer in a slender six-month timeline.

Based on this experience, the team has identified some essential best practices for product development, which may be particularly helpful when you already have an established product and market. They are as follows:

  • Understand your customers' needs. A crucial first step is to consider the development challenges you'll face with your new product. To determine those, make sure you focus on what problems your solution will solve. Ask yourself: Does the product add significant new value? If you build it, will they come?
  • Determine where your solution will fit in the market. Suppose your company has an existing product in the marketplace. In that case, you must also address essential questions regarding product separation and differentiation: Does this new product help current customers, or is it for a different demographic?

Consider Microsoft Word and Excel as an example. These are different products that are both designed for business users. However, the customer demographics for Microsoft Word and Xbox are different. Given the differences in utility and customer demographics, Microsoft positions and markets Xbox differently than its suite of productivity software. The point is that when developing a new solution, you need to know where in the market your solution will fit.

  • Supplement your code. Building Voleer from scratch ultimately provided the freedom to use a new code base and open-source technology. The team supplemented its code with existing off-the-shelf tools, enabling us to efficiently move the process along.
  • Consider a dedicated team. While this is not a new concept, it can be easily overlooked. Having a dedicated team to work 100% on product development for Voleer helped maximize our progress and eliminate distractions from other project work. Deemed the "SWAT Team," this team streamlined processes, which enabled them to coalesce and quickly advance the product.
  • Be agile and transparent. Additionally, we switched from using a traditional scrum-based iterative process to Kanban, the popular system for change management and continuous improvements in the organization. During initial implementation, the team paid attention to such key aspects of Kanban, focusing on quality, reduction of work in progress, and frequent delivery. Kanban allowed us to reduce the iteration time to one week without overwhelming our developers.
  • Set a bold goal. As an incentive, we committed to introducing Voleer at the Microsoft Inspire conference, allowing us to make a significant announcement and demo the product to customers onsite. This goal, however, put us on a tight six-month timeline to not just test code, but to get Voleer to the level where it was deployable in production environments and available at the conference.
  • Create new value. Outside of technical integration, it's essential to look for opportunities to enable cross-product collaboration. Capitalizing on these opportunities for cross-pollination can result in new value for your business and the sustained success of your new product. This concept worked for BitTitan. For instance, with Voleer, IT managers can do assessments to gather vital information about their digital environment, which helps them prepare for migration projects and potentially drives revenue for BitTitan's MigrationWiz.
  • Identify the correct test audience. Other problems occur when product development teams test a new product on an audience of existing customers who may not be relevant. While those existing customers may be readily available, they may not fit your target market. Identify who makes up the best test audience for your product and then test accordingly. Doing so will better inform your product's strengths and weaknesses, and more accurately gauge customer satisfaction. Honing in on the correct test audience may require more legwork, but it will ultimately pay off in dividends.

While it's easy to turn to the resources already at your disposal for launching a new product, it's critical to be aware of what the path to product innovation and commercialization will require. Successful new products often require new development processes and methodologies. Building from the ground up may be daunting, but it can untether you from preordained outcomes and unlock new possibilities.



Alex Tkatch 

Alex Tkatch is Senior Director of Software Engineering at BitTitan, where he leads the product engineering team for Voleer, an automation solution for IT service professionals. He is an established software development leader with extensive experience in architecture, design, and implementation of software products known for reliability, scalability, and security.

Published Tuesday, August 10, 2021 7:06 AM by David Marshall
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