Do We Talk More about Product Discovery than Product Analytics?


Based on my observations and evidence I have, in this post, I’ll mainly discuss what product communities mainly talk about, and analyze the state of product analytics.

Today there’s no room for products that don’t bring value, especially when pandemic has put every product to a value test. It has also put every single business to an agility test: How quickly can you adapt and pivot when the lives of your users change dramatically?

To be agile, you have to understand needs and behaviour of users deeply to make your product valuable and usable. In other words, you need to discover what is valuable for users, deliver value, and measure it to figure out if a product is successful.

To uncover users’ needs and find opportunities to benefit business, you should employ product discovery.

To deliver value, you should initiate product development and delivery process.

To measure value, success, and make educated decisions about available product and its features, you should hire product analytics.

What we often talk about?

Product management communities talk a lot about continuous product development and delivery including methodologies (Agile, Scrum), roles in teams, speed of software development and delivery, etc. However, I think that most teams are already good at fast development and delivery.

Recently we talk more and more about continuous product discovery . I am keen on reading and talking about focusing on product outcomes, discovering opportunities by talking to users and collecting evidence by testing prototypes. In my opinion, product discovery skills of most teams aren’t as good as their abilities to produce and deliver working software. However, the future of product discovery seems to be promising as long as ambassadors for product discovery such as Marty Cegan, Teressa Torres, Tim Herbig and others are among community leaders.

What about product analytics?

Product analytics is an approach focused on fully understanding of users’ behaviour when they engage with what you built. It comprises creating and analysing key product metrics (quantitative data) that correlate with product goals. Metrics enable to get insights about how (and how many) users get value from a product.

Recently Corinna Stukan, VP of Product, published the post “The Big Gap between Product and Analytics” which motivated me to reflect on the state of product analytics as well.

According to the conducted by Mixpanel and Product School, “only 10% of product teams are able to validate their most important product decisions with data”. It means that decisions of many teams may be a shot in the dark. That approach may typically lead to failure. Of course, teams may only rely on their experience and intuition including what they already know. But most markets are dynamic. Teams should keep up with changing users’ pain points, needs, and interests.

First of all, teams should be skilled at collecting qualitative and quantitative data and turning them into opportunities to create value for both consumers and business. It’s all about product discovery.

Secondly, teams should perform product analysis: collect and analyze quantitative data to increase the number of active users and improve product retention, conversion, engagement, etc. And at this point, many teams may find these activities challenging.

Is it a Matter of the Gap between Product and Product Analytics Resources?

I looked up “analytics” topics on Silicon Valley Product Group , one of the most popular product management blog. The latest posts about analytics were published in 2014.

Posts about analytics on Silicon Valley Product Group

Also, I didn’t find a category dedicated to product analytics, metrics, or measurements.

The most popular articles and don’t reflect on how analytics, metrics, measurements, that are the foundation for monitoring the success and failure of a product, impact the shape of a product.

My going through categories and posts about product success and failure on Silicon Valley Product Group

In the article about the product fail, Marty Cegan points out, “Continuous Discovery and Continuous Delivery happen in parallel.” I strongly agree with that. I would also add continuous product analytics to this list. I think it could help to emphasize the importance of analyzing quantitative data.

Reading the book “INSPIRED: How to create tech products customers love” and article “The Role of Product Analytics” by Marty Cegan, I realize that collecting and analysing qualitative and quantitative data is a part of continuous product discovery. However, when I come across many sources about product discovery, I mainly learn about the importance of going outside the building and talking to customers. I think that placing higher importance on understanding users’ behavior by analysing quantitative data could improve product discovery, especially while assumptions are tested.

Mixpanel says that product analytics is key to product discovery. According to Mixpanel, most companies find talking to customers time-consuming. This company provides an approach of incorporation of product analytics into product discovery. You can read more details .

Global Interest in Product Analytics

I typed “product analytics” into Google. It showed me links with materials provided by companies that produce product analytics tools. So far I have learned a lot about product analytics from the and . I wish to give credit to these companies.

However, Google didn’t show any materials from product management influencers in the top 10 results. In contrast, when I typed “product discovery”, materials from Teresa Torres, Tim Herbig, Roman Pichler were in the top of results.

I thought for a moment perhaps most product people were not interested in product analytics as a separate subject from product discovery. There was no demand. To collect evidence, I decided to check out the results of Google Trends, search trends feature that shows how frequently a given search term is entered into Google. And I was surprised by the output.

I compared the relative popularity of the two keywords “product discovery” and “product analytics”. Between 2004 and 2011, global interest in product discovery and product analytics remained stable. While the interest in product discovery has slightly increased, the popularity of product analytics has gone up significantly.

Doesn’t it mean that a group of people who is interested in product analytics is underserved while demand is high? I can only assume these people don’t find enough information about product analytics on blogs, Facebook, Linkedin. Perhaps this sharp rise in product analytics popularity is caused by modern capabilities that enable to collect the data. I can only assume as long as I don’t conduct qualitative research to learn “why” people are so interested in product analytics.

Final Thoughts

It seems that nowadays a global product management community talks a lot about continuous product discovery, product development, and product delivery. Thanks to that, there’re a lot of materials, workshops, and courses about these activities.

However, I think that there’s considerable room for improvement when it comes to product analytics. Google Trens shows that the popularity of product analytics has been growing. But observations demonstrate that product teams are struggling with making decisions based on analyzed data.

I was able to find some valuable sources of information on product analytics. However, in my opinion, we should talk more about it to close the gap between product and analytics to be able to learn and adjust fast.

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Highly capable Senior Product Owner with nearly 5 years of experience in software product development. I tend to build valuable, usable, feasible, and business

Highly capable Senior Product Owner with nearly 5 years of experience in software product development. I tend to build valuable, usable, feasible, and business