In the business of analytics, it’s too easy to let numbers and acronyms do all the talking. With this feature series, we’re surfacing the people behind all the clever stuff that cranks out the ARPDAU, the benchmark reports and the Sankey charts.
Despite having a calendar maxed out by workshops, calls and walking around being tall, one of our product owners graciously found time for a chat.
Desert island disc: Happy place: Mark or Isaac:
Michael Forrest, Product Owner, deltaDNA
Gracias Por La Musica
Desert island disc:
Mark or Isaac:
What is the typical end-to-end product development process?
I think we’re fairly standard in the sense that, in the first instance, the product team scopes out the work to make sure that we’re working on the right thing. Once that has been decided, the work is broken down into smaller pieces which kicks off a collaborative process that circles between our designers, developers and testers. When we feel that the product has taken on a more robust and complete form, it goes out into the wider world for beta testing by a subset of clients.
How do you decide which new products to develop?
We have a lot of different information streams at our disposal, which can be a blessing and a curse. We are really grateful to have very vocal clients because it is generally their feedback that ultimately decides the shape of what we build.
Another core driver is our market research. We look at the industry to see where it’s going and where we think it might go in the longer term so that we can be confident that our products are not only relevant now, but also in future.
Finally, we look at internal feedback gathered by speaking to clients and other people in the same space. Leaning on those three key information sources is crucial to our process.
What role do you take in the development process?
I sit with one foot in the product team and another in one of the development teams.
In product, I work to define our vision in relation to where we want our platform and services to go. In terms of development, I would say that I’m the key stakeholder for one of our teams. That involves flagging and removing potential roadblocks, making sure that we’re working on the right thing at the right time, and generally overseeing the whole process. I try to maintain a high-level understanding of what’s going on and avoid getting involved in the nitty-gritty wherever possible.
What influence do clients have on the development of any given product?
In order for a product to be successful in delivering value to the end user, that user must be the main factor governing the direction of development. We glean a lot of information from our client conversations and from my experience of other companies – both first-hand and through research – I think that we make more use of our client feedback than is often the case.
What challenges do you run into most often as a Product Owner?
Being a member of a product team, in any industry, invariably leaves you spinning a lot of plates. You’re involved in many different parts of the business simultaneously and that necessitates a lot of relationship management. That can be easy or difficult, but it is always time-consuming.
The biggest challenge here, for me, is knowing that there are so many cool things that we could do in any given sprint. There are ideas that we come up with internally, we see things in the wider market that we take inspiration from, and then we have requests from clients coming in all the time. We would love to do everything, but that just isn’t possible. It’s a nice problem to have, but it’s a problem all the same.
Do you have a feature/product/functionality that you are most proud of in the deltaDNA platform?
I think our two most interesting features at the moment are features that work well in tandem – that’s cross-promotion and event-triggered campaigns. They combine a lot of what our clients and prospective clients (and players) are doing to create new and valuable outputs. We have seen clients that have adopted those features doing very interesting things and achieving great success as a result, which is always the aim. In particular, cross-promotion is showing itself to be extremely powerful as a CRM tool for games.
How do you see our product changing in future to suit and drive the industry?
We are all leaning more heavily on the engagement and CRM side of analytics with each passing day. Intelligent engagement and segmentation of users opens up a lot of doors in this industry. Expert analysts make a great audience for what we do, but we want to widen the scope of our cutting edge. Embedding more of our collective experience and intelligence into our technology will make the platform far more useful for – and accessible to – people throughout games companies.