Pivot Fast: The New Product Cycle

During a dynamic time for the world, we’re seeing tech and media companies rewrite their product road maps. Some products get shelved while others get fast-tracked as shifting ground transforms the market’s demand signals. The name of the game is to pivot with agility. This is the topic of the latest Localogy Analyst Brief.

This topic raises lots of questions. Among them, what innovations has this new rollout cycle inspired? Will the results sustain beyond the current global lockdown? And will fast-tracked product development itself reveal new methods to accelerate cycles and speed-to-market in normal times? The latter will be revealed in time.

From Yelp to YouTube

One thing we do know is that the last 60 days have been historic, and can be defined by many words. But the one that captures at least part of the tech atmosphere is pivot. As mentioned, products are getting shelved, fast-tracked, and discovered out of dire need. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.

More importantly, the rigor and altered perspective inherent in this process has engendered product and feature discoveries whose value could be positive and permanent. They could sustain well beyond the period of global crisis — a possible silver lining in challenging times. That can be seen from YouTube to Yelp.

For example, virtual collaboration tools for knowledge workers have already begun to improve while others are getting launched and funded based on the market’s new demand signals. That includes Zoom’s explosion, as well as emerging tools like Spatial. This will bring us better collaboration tools than we had before.

When the world returns to office work and conferences, these newfound products could engender streamlined productivity that exists somewhere between the old and new normals. Remote work can coexist with high-touch office work, alternating based on what’s optimal. The cost efficiencies will be immediately apparent.

Suspend Disbelief

Beyond the matter of product is that of process. In this course-altering time for product teams, is fast-tracked product development forcing new muscle memory for the cycle itself? Will faster product cycles be another one of the silver-lining discoveries cited above? We’ve seen this recently with Shopify among others.

As it often goes, the answer will be mixed. Accelerated cycles could instill a new cadence for faster product rollouts. Once something of the magnitude of a global crisis forces a certain behavior, it can suspend previous disbelief that it wasn’t possible. This is unlocking new discoveries and perspectives throughout tech.

One historical example is industrial production during World War II. By being forced to rise to the occasion, goals were not only met but capabilities were discovered in the process. What the tech world is going though is a much smaller — though conceptually similar — version of that. We could end up better and faster for it.

Operant Conditioning

Why is this important? As the ground shifts, so does SMB demand and expectations. According to Localogy’s Modern Commerce Monitor results shown above,  SMBs’ top priorities in the wake of Covid-19 business disruptions are to more effectively communicate with employees (54%) and customers (48%).

This new demand signal compels faster product cycles so that when business realities shift – as they have in the past two months – SMBs have the tools to deal with that change and execute necessary communications. Fulfilling that need will require speed and agility, which is a call to action for the SMB Saas world.

Similarly, this experience has taught SMBs a lesson about being well equipped with tech tools like shipping logistics or curbside pickup. This will instill longstanding behavior and willingness to adopt. This too is shown in MCM Wave V-II results, with SMBs more willing to adopt new tech (41%) and sell online (40%).

To provide more color on this accelerated product development cycle and how it is allowing technology companies to meet SMBs in the moment, let’s look at a few examples… (keep reading).

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