My fellow liveblogging comrade Barry Schwartz shares the news that Google is making a major change to its product development cycle. There will be no more throwing spaghetti on a wall to see what sticks. Instead, Google is going to look to its audience to help them come up with products that will serve user-specific needs. Hmm, targeting your services to meet your users? Imagine that..
Stuart Smith, Strategic Planning Director of Google’s Creative Labs in New York, commented:
“What typically happens is it is just a load of engineers producing a load of things and then refining until it finds an audience. What they have never really done is to look at audiences and understand audiences and say ‘perhaps there is a need over here — let’s meet that need’. Now I think they have seen an opportunity to come at it from an audience perspective and that is part of what any planners’ job is — to understand audiences.”
All kidding aside, this is a very big (and a very good) step from Google. Google has its hands in so many different parts of the Web (and on so much of our data), that you have to think they have a nice nest of information to work with by now. And the better they can act on that information, the happier users will be, the more successful their products will be, and the easier it will be for them to bring in more ad revenue. It’s a win/win for everyone. Well, assuming you’re not, like, Yahoo or Microsoft or something.
There’s been some talk that this may mean the end of Google. A structured product development cycle is definitely a departure from Google’s carefree 20 percent time approach. However, I don’t think that’s the case at all. This doesn’t signify a death. If anything, we’re about to see the emergence of a smarter, more refined Google. As Silicon Alley Insider reminds us, Google Android and Chrome were all planned releases that took years to create. There was no spaghetti throwing there, and that’s the future of Google.
Props to Google for leading by example here. In a time of recession, you should be looking at your company the same way. It’s time to tighten up those offerings and make sure you’re focusing your resources on the things that people want. It does you no good to be putting money and energy into areas that aren’t making you money. And if that’s an important enough lesson for Google to learn, it’s definitely important enough for you, as well.
Go through your analytics and find the products and areas where your customers are most invested. Then work on building those out. The more you build your company around filling your customers needs, the more useful you are to them and the more loyal they’ll be.
In other words, be like Google.