What Does it Take to Launch Products in Uncertain Times?

For SXSW Online 2021, we gathered 6 innovative leaders in the digital product space to discuss how the pandemic has affected product delivery, and what it takes to get truly winning product to market in these uncertain times
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This time last year, the frog team was scrambling to figure out whether our panelists were going to be able to fly to Austin for our annual SXSW programming. We’d already seen our studios closing one by one across Asia and Europe. When we decided to start cancelling or postponing events, and even closing our other studios, we didn’t know that it was only the beginning of one of the most transformative years in recent history.

A year into our global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been faced with countless challenges. But despite these obstacles, we’ve learned, persevered and continued to push innovation forward. For some of us, that’s meant learning new ways to work remotely. For others, it’s meant understanding how we can better solve for changing human needs by really listening to our teams and customers.

In a conversation moderated by frog VP of Technology Jona Moore, six product leaders from across industries and around the world discussed their experiences during the past year, providing valuable insights on how they’ve navigated its unprecedented challenges, as well as helpful tips and tricks for growing and scaling teams, honing delivery methods, and getting innovative products and services to market.

 

 

As the Head of Use Cases for Miro, a virtual collaboration tool that has seen over 600% growth in the past year, Anna Boyarkina laid out the three principles that have helped guide the Miro team through their exponential growth: “Start with the user, continue to prioritize and make decisions, and add a little fun!”

We also heard from Victoria Gibb, who joined the telemedicine platform HealthHero last March, during a period of similarly rapid growth. In order to facilitate product-led transformation within the company as it faced a sudden increase in market demand for telehealth tools, Victoria noted “a fundamental need for a cultural shift within technology in the business.” By becoming more proactive about product and technical design, HealthHero enabled larger leaps that better satisfied client requirements and kept them moving towards their product north star.

The panelists also had the opportunity to discuss responses to two live audience polls, which asked respondents about the greatest challenges and investments their organizations have made throughout the pandemic. A majority of respondents listed “organizational alignment” as their biggest challenge, while most described “org restructure or process improvements” as their biggest investment.

In order to avoid churn and getting bogged down by strict processes or tools, Cristina Crespo, frog’s Principal Product Director, outlined three keys to success: “First, investing in customer experience before technology. Second, making sure that your team is aligned to a greater purpose. And third, testing and learning from your users continuously.”

Samantha Ziesemer, Innovation Product Manager at CUNA Mutual Group, noted how empowering it can be to have your product team function “away from the mothership” as an incubator or innovation center. But nevertheless, she noted that “none of this works without the full support and commitment of your leadership.”

In addition to creating organizational alignment and finding the right adaptive methodology, Azadeh Hardiman, Business Leader at Progressive’s Level20 incubator, insisted that another key factor in delivering great products is building great teams. “Of course, customers are at the center of everything we do, but you can’t build great products without great people.” Azadeh has made it a top priority to start with diverse and inclusive teams—the only way to ensure they’re designing and developing inclusive and accessible products.

Thank you to our fabulous panelists for sharing their insights and journeys from this past year, and to our engaged audience, who tuned in from around the world. If you missed the live event, you can download the full recording below.

Launching Products in Uncertain Times
Download the full panel recording here
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frog is a global design and innovation firm. We transform businesses at scale by creating systems of brand, product and service that deliver a distinctly better experience. We strive to touch hearts and move markets. Our passion is to transform ideas into realities. We partner with clients to anticipate the future, evolve organizations and advance the human experience.