Digital products have been subjected incessant disruptions ever since their inception. Just five years ago, it seemed unthinkable that we'd be using AI as a search engine. Not even a decade ago, telling people to go mobile-first was still a novel piece of advice. And just 20 years ago, broadband internet was first introduced. As a digital product studio, how do you even begin to take a stance here?
Bruno recently joined Bothrs as its new product lead, bringing with him an impressive wealth of experience and a clear passion for tech. He's spent many years in leading product roles, and is an entrepreneur himself. He's honed his intuition, learned to distinguish opportunities from distractions, make tough decisions, and most importantly, realize when it's time to move on. In actuality, his idea of how digital products should be conceived, is more straightforward than you'd think.
“I like to be tough on vision, but flexible on the details,” Bruno explains in Bezos-esque fashion. “You definitely need a certain kind of rigidity when it comes to your vision; plain labor is a more interchangeable resource than vision. And I found Bothrs to have a particularly sturdy identity and vision, as they address what I believe is a common frustration in the market right now. Things just aren't moving fast enough, while companies themselves are proclaiming they're as agile as can be. At the same time, markets have accelerated tremendously. Blink, and you've been overtaken by a new entrant.
But that doesn't mean you should just start building digital products willy-nilly. Products need a clear raison d'être so you don't start second-guessing yourself later on. That's another thing you have to be firm about, and stay loyal to.
Additionally, the fact that people –myself included– are flocking to smaller, more agile studios like Bothrs tells me the market will only evolve more towards speed, flexibility, and rapid-fire validation of assumptions. Because that is how I believe digital products should be built: always circling back to the end user as frequently as possible. It's not only the crux of what makes digital products successful, but it's a key driver of alignment, security, and determination amongst the teams that build them as well. User validation is our source for momentum, and speed is everything these days.”
Client & user centricity
“My main ambition as a product lead is to bring both our product teams and the client even closer to the end user. Being a product owner is not enough, you need to become a customer owner as well,” Bruno continues. “It's the same thing in all aspects of life, really. These past few months, my home has been converted into a construction site. And when contractors aren't communicating to me or neglecting to follow-up, that's immensely frustrating. The same thing applies to product teams and clients, and clients and end users as well. Feedback has to be happening all the time, from everyone involved. Yeah, you can do a good job with a minimum amount of input. But good is just the enemy of great.
One way to bring our teams and clients closer together, is to go back to that pre-COVID physicality. We obviously had to make the switch to working fully remote back in 2020, but the “new normal”, I suppose, has us hanging somewhere in between these days. It may sound silly, but I can't understate how much more energy, bonding, and collaboration is happening in active, face-to-face workshops with clients, compared to your average virtual whiteboard snooze fest.”
Sounds straightforward enough, but the implications for Bothrs run a little deeper. Bruno elaborates: “If we are to make a real difference for our clients, then we have to be at the core of innovation, ergo at the core of the digital products that drive their businesses. That's our biggest challenge today. Bothrs isn't just an extension of our clients’ teams, one that operates at the fringes of organizations, validating random ideas. We're an end-to-end partner in digital innovation, moving inwards from the outside into the hearts of organizations. Because that's where the real value lies. This is about fishing where the fish are at, know what I mean?
In a nutshell, the product teams at Bothrs are set up to decimate their clients’ endless backlogs and focus on what will actually impact their business on the long term. Because right now, people are out there risking their entire innovation budget on a hunch. Start small, figure out how to measure success, involve real customers to validate your efforts early, and only then start thinking about allocating big budgets. That's how successful innovation works, and that's how Bothrs works.”