The overriding objective of carefully managing the road map is to ensure the delivery of a product that meets the most basic and essential requirements of a paying or using customer audience. If the road map expands because of scope creep, or if the road map is delayed for competing priorities, delivering the product as defined in the business case suffers. With this in mind, part six will discuss, differentiate and contextualize the two terms used in product development that capture the essence of delivering a most basic product a customer will support: Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and Product Market Fit (PMF)
The senior leadership team and the product leadership group have approved your business case and you are now ready to engage the product team, including engineering, user design and product ownership who, with your leadership, are responsible for delivering on the product concept. In your approved business case wire frames, mock-ups, product requirements, and sprint estimates were presented and approved. Now, with your product team, it is time to turn to the road map and prioritization of the schedule and the product build. Three factors will impinge upon and determine your success in delivering on your successful product launch: 1. Competing priorities, 2. Scope creep and 3. Pressure to meet a deadline.
Publishers, that is enterprises devoted to bringing to life the intellectual work of content creators for commercial ends, thrive in the world of digital distribution when they most skillfully manipulate three key levers that are entirely within the publisher’s control: 1. The timing of release and point of first access, 2. The digital list price and associated price multipliers for access models across vendors and 3. The selective deployment of digital rights management. I believe the primary objectives of a publisher in the educational space should be to simultaneously maximize revenue return to authors and creators and drive exposure and usage of the published content. The three-levers available to publishers should be continuously monitored, skillfully adjusted, and then measured by reader/viewer/listener engagement and usage and royalty return to authors and content creators.
We have arrived at the moment we need to sell our new product concept to senior leadership. We have completed customer discovery and established a concept that satisfies a significant unmet need for our customers. We have established with a representative mix of our publishing partners a model they will support with licensed content. Finally, we have considered the strategic, technological and go-to-market context of our business and we know our new product concept is aligned with our companies’ strengths and growth objectives. A well-constructed business case, presented with confidence, is the critical next step to take our proposed product from conceptual to development.
Publishing and content creating businesses may not get a lot of attention from venture capital, but they are bedrock providers nonetheless. Building new products that leverage content in ever more meaningful ways for higher education library patrons demands we celebrate the role of publishers and content creators and that we build their perspective into our products. But we must also challenge and refine the publisher perspective when an opportunity to broaden access, improve affordability or enhance research outputs is in the balance. In short, new product development in the higher education space must be done in a give-and-take partnership with publishers and content creators.
Much has been written on the process of discovery and the usefulness of proposing a hypothesis about customer needs, stating your assumptions, asking good questions and then evaluating and refining your hypothesis based on iterative customer interaction. An excellent resource for developing an understanding of the discovery process in general is the Silicon Valley Product Group blog: https://svpg.com/ In this post I will focus on specific challenges in formulating hypotheses in the context of content-based products for learning and research and the challenges that follow in customer discovery. With content-based products two intertwined concerns need to be addressed before a testable hypothesis can be generated: 1. Prevailing and possible business models and 2. Publisher relationships.
We are at the conclusion of this six part series on designing, implementing and measuring a licensing strategy. The key steps we have explored include assessing and organizing your catalog into categories of expected volume of usage and/or sales. We also discussed techniques for establishing a comprehensive view on possible channel partners and available business models to maximize return across your content catalog. We considered the possibility of gaining a high-value exclusive distribution deal. Finally, we detailed the steps in defining your lifecycle distribution strategy for your catalog, from new releases to the longtail and the evergreen and all the valuable content in the middle of your uniquely constructed demand curve. The final step then is to create a visual model for tracking and evaluating the performance of your licensing strategy.
In the first installment in this series I suggested organizing your catalog into three groups: 1. New release/high potential, 2. Low potential/longtail and 3. Medium to high potential. I noted there is no absolute measure of performance that can be tied to these three designations as each publisher operates in markets of different sizes with different investment levels to bring content to market and different views on what “high potential” means in terms of annual volume of titles sold and revenue generation. With this in mind and having organized your catalogue and planned new releases for the coming year, you are ready to address the key decisions in strategy setting: which partners, which business models and when do titles move across business models and partners.
New product development practice is simultaneously creative and grounded in the specific context of the business where you operate as a product manager. There are infinite problems and needs you will uncover in customer discovery, but relatively few of these will be an ideal fit to pursue for your company or organization. Content-based, technology enabled products, such as are the focus of this series, will only succeed if they are built to: 1. Fit the business strategy, 2. Can be supported by the existing technology powering the business and 3. Can be delivered by the organization’s marketing and sales structure and teams.
My focus is very specifically on supporting product managers tasked with building products that incorporate content, licensed or originally published, into learning and/or research solutions. My experience with bringing content and software and services together in solutions to support learners and researchers is the unique context and contribution of this series.