Business Strategy vs. Product Strategy

In keeping with my recent theme of product planning, I’d like to focus in this article on an important distinction and source of frustration in many companies, and that has to do with the differences between business strategy and product strategy.

为了与我最近的产品规划主题保持一致,我想在这篇文章中关注重要的区别,就是涉及许多公司挫折的来源,这与商业战略和产品战略之间的差异有关。

Many companies confuse or blur the two, and the result is easy to spot. The senior executives want to focus on the business strategy, but they find they are forced to make decisions at a level far below where they’re comfortable or usually even interested, such as which specific products, projects and even features to invest in, and what the interdependencies are between these features and projects, and often what is on the actual page and how to resolve conflicts.

许多公司混淆或模糊这两者,结果就是显而易见的。高管想要专注于商业战略,但他们发现,他们被迫做出水平远低于他们舒适甚至通常感兴趣的决定,比如特定产品,项目甚至投入的特性,以及这些特性和项目之间的相互依赖关系是什么,在实际的事务中常常是什么,以及如何解决冲突。

And on the other side, the product managers feel like they don’t understand the reasons behind decisions that directly impact their products, they feel like the strategy is guard-railing every few months, and they don’t feel empowered to do their jobs.

另一方面,产品经理感觉他们不理解直接影响他们产品决策背后的原因,他们觉得每隔几个月战略就会受到保护,他们觉得自己没有能力完成自己的工作。

Very often I’ll attend a product planning session with senior executives and they’re being presented with lots of detailed product plans but without the business context. When I ask where the business strategy is, I’ll often get a blank look. The team wants to make more money so these are the features they want to add, or so their reasoning goes.

我经常会和高级管理人员一起参加产品计划会议,他们会收到很多详细的产品计划,但是没有商业环境。当我问商业战略在哪里时,我常常会茫然地看着。团队想要赚更多的钱,所以他们想增加这些特征,或者他们的推理是这样的。

Business strategy is about identifying your business objectives and deciding where to invest to best achieve those objectives. For example, moving from a direct sales model (your own sales force selling directly to customers) to an online sales model (your customers buy from your site) is a business strategy. Deciding whether to charge for your services with subscriptions or transactions fees or whether you have an advertising-based revenue model is a business strategy. Deciding to move into an adjacent market is a business strategy.

商业战略就是确定你的商业目标,并决定在哪里投资以最好地实现这些目标。例如,从直销模式(您自己的销售团队直接向客户销售)到在线销售模式(您的客户从您的站点购买)就是一种商业战略。决定是否为您的服务收取订阅费或事务费,或者是否有一个基于广告的收入模型就是一种商业战略。决定进入邻近的市场也是一种商业战略。

Now, clearly there are some big product implications to each of these business strategies. But they are not one in the same. There are lots of ways to sell online, lots of ways to monetize value, and lots of ways to develop or acquire and integrate an adjacent offering. The product strategy speaks to how you hope to deliver on the business strategy.

现在,很明显,每一种商业战略都涉及到一些重要的产品。但它们并不相同。网上销售有很多种方式,有很多赚钱的方式,也有很多开发、收购和整合相邻产品的方式。产品战略说明了您希望如何实现商业策略。

Moreover, while the business may believe something is a great business opportunity, you don’t yet know if your company can successfully deliver on this opportunity. Maybe it will cost too much to build. Maybe customers won’t value it enough to pay for it. Maybe it’ll be too complicated for users to deal with. This is where product strategy and especially product discovery come into play.

此外,尽管企业可能认为某件事是一个很好的商业机会,但你还不知道你的公司能否成功地抓住这个机会。也许建造成本太高了。也许客户对它还没有足够的价值评估。也许这对用户处理产品来说太复杂了。这就是产品战略,尤其是产品发现发挥作用的地方。

The business maintains a portfolio of investments, and the business can and should adjust that portfolio mix as businesses and markets develop.

企业保持投资组合,并且随着企业和市场的发展,企业可以而且应该调整投资组合。

Take as an example Amazon. They’ve got a portfolio of investments including their core e-commerce offerings by category, they’ve got third-party selling, they’ve got an infrastructure technology (cloud computing) business, and they’ve even got their own growing consumer electronics business (love that Kindle 2). I especially like Amazon as an example because they illustrate so many points of good business strategies (and good product strategies).

以亚马逊为例。他们的投资组合包括核心电子商务产品的类别,他们有第三方销售,他们有一个基础设施技术(云计算)业务,甚至他们有自己的消费电子业务 (Kindle 2)。我特别喜欢亚马逊作为一个例子,因为他们良好的商业战略(和好的产品策略)能说明很多问题。

Amazon may have made their business in selling hardcopy books and they’ve been a great innovator there, but instead of spending all their time trying to protect that business, they’ve also got an investment that could one day revolutionize that entire business. To Amazon’s credit, they realize that if they don’t pursue this someone else probably will. Similarly, they have worked hard to create innovative technologies to allow them to provide a differentiated e-commerce customer experience, yet they also have been leaders in making that technology available to others (Amazon Web Services) because it’s possible that cloud computing business will one day be even larger than what they can ever do themselves as an online retailer.

亚马逊可能在销售纸质书上有自己的商业,他们在那里是一个伟大的创新者,但是他们没有把所有的时间都花在保护这一业务上,他们还得到了一笔投资,可能有一天会彻底改变整个业务。值得赞扬的是,他们意识到,如果他们不追求这个,其他人很可能会追求。同样,他们已经努力创建创新技术,允许他们提供差异化的电子商务客户体验,他们还是向其他人提供技术应用的领导者 (Amazon Web Services), 因为很有可能有一天,他们的云计算业务要大于一个在线零售商。

That’s a business strategy and you can see their portfolio planning. Now each of these businesses has one or more product strategies. As an Amazon user you can see the evolution of the e-commerce retailing business. You can also see the evolution of the Amazon Web Services product line; every few months another piece of the puzzle is launched. You can see the evolution of the electronic reader and the supporting technologies.

这是一个商业战略,你可以看到他们的投资组合计划。现在这些企业都有一个或多个产品策略。作为一个亚马逊用户,你可以看到电子商务零售业务的演变。您还可以看到AWS产品线的演进;每隔几个月,就会有另一个谜团被解开。您可以看到电子阅读器和支持技术的发展。

Think of it this way. The business strategy and business portfolio planning provides a budget and a set of business metrics. The product organization then lives within that budget to pursue as aggressively as possible the best ways to hit those business metrics.

可以这样想。商业战略和商业组合计划提供了预算和一组商业度量。然后,产品组织在预算范围内尽可能积极地追求实现这些业务度量的最佳方式。

Some product strategies will prove more successful than others, and this will impact the business portfolio planning. And not every business of course will resonate with customers, so a big part of business strategy is knowing when to continue to invest and knowing when to cut your losses so that you can invest elsewhere.

有些产品战略将被证明比其他战略更成功,这将影响商业组合规划。当然,并不是每一项商业都会引起客户的共鸣,所以商业战略的一个重要部分就是知道什么时候继续投资,知道什么时候减少损失,这样你就可以在其他地方投资。

Two key techniques to help with these investment decisions are Opportunity Assessments and Product Discovery. What’s most important however is to make sure you’re asking the right questions and making the hard decisions.

帮助这些投资决策的两个关键技术是机会评估和产品发现。然而,最重要的是要确保你问的是正确的问题,并做出艰难的决定。

So business owners and senior executives are responsible for the business strategy and the business portfolio planning, and the product organization (especially the directors of product management) are responsible for the product strategy and the product portfolio planning. Keep these two concepts straight and I think you’ll find that you will have more clarity and understanding in terms of objectives and responsibilities, as well as better managed business and product portfolios.

因此,商业所有者和高级管理人员负责商业战略和商业组合规划,而产品组织(特别是产品管理主管)负责产品战略和产品组合规划。把这两个概念弄清楚,我想你会发现你会在目标和责任方面有更清晰和理解,以及更好的管理商业和产品组合。

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