The power of product-aligned strategies | HCLTech

Elevating innovation: The power of product-aligned strategies

How can businesses leverage product aligned strategies to foster innovation and drive sustainable growth?
7 minutes read
Mousume Roy
Mousume Roy
APAC Reporter, HCLTech
7 minutes read
Elevating innovation: The power of product-aligned strategies

Rapid technological advancements and evolving consumer preferences have made businesses recognize the limitations of short-term thinking. The traditional approach, centered on immediate gains and quarterly targets is proving inadequate in navigating the complexities of today's marketplace. The product-aligned strategy marks a shift away from the traditional approach and is gaining momentum across industries.

Jeff Messecar, Practice Director at HCLTech, shares insight into the fundamental shift in mindset required for companies to adopt a product-centric operating model and strategy, drawing from his extensive experience in leading product capabilities and driving transformation goals for clients.

Messecar emphasizes the importance of placing the customer at the center of all initiatives, emphasizing the importance of active listening and continuous engagement in understanding their needs, preferences and pain points. At its core, this strategy revolves around the idea of developing products and services that are deeply attuned to the expectations of the target audience.

Understanding the product-aligned operating model and strategy

A key aspect of transitioning to a product-aligned mindset is shifting the focus from project-based plans to outcome-driven objectives. Instead of rigidly adhering to project timelines and feature lists, organizations must prioritize outcomes such as customer adoption and satisfaction. 

By aligning efforts with these desired outcomes, companies can ensure that their products deliver tangible value to customers and remain relevant in a constantly evolving market landscape.

“Central to a product-aligned strategy is the recognition that innovation is an ongoing journey, not a one-time event,” adds Messecar. He advocates for iterative processes that enable organizations to adapt and evolve in response to changing market dynamics and customer preferences. 

A product-aligned operating model provides a framework to align IT and business, and focuses on outcomes. Resources such as people and funds are assigned to products based on their strategic value. For instance, in the case of an online retailer, a search engine could be a product. A good search engine providing a smart search capability that can dig deep into inventory and bring up related products with user reviews and personalized recommendations could be a significant differentiator.

Messecar talks about HCLTech’s FENIX 2.0 framework that has been created to bridge the gap between digital strategy and execution. This industry-aligned digital execution framework helps organizations rewire their core DNA to scale digital objectives. It also helps enterprises make critical decisions on repurposing business architecture enabled by composable and consumable technology architecture, to create business agility.

Data for strategic insights

A key pillar of product-aligned thinking is leveraging data-driven insights to inform decision-making and drive meaningful outcomes. Messecar talks about the importance of collecting and analyzing data related to customer behavior, feedback and satisfaction levels. 

By leveraging data analytics, organizations can gain deeper insights into customer preferences, identify emerging trends and anticipate future needs, thereby enabling them to stay ahead of the curve in an increasingly competitive landscape. He acknowledges the challenges organizations face during this transformation journey, particularly resistance from leaders accustomed to traditional approaches.

He stresses the importance of securing buy-in from all levels of leadership and fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation to overcome these hurdles effectively.

Early risk-taking in development

Embracing a product-aligned approach encourages organizations to embrace risks earlier in the development process. Rather than waiting for a fully polished product before market release, companies adopt a minimum viable product (MVP) mindset. This involves launching a scaled-down version of the product to gather feedback and iterate based on user responses.

For example, tech giants like Google and Facebook are renowned for their "fail fast, learn faster" philosophy, where experimentation and iteration are prioritized over perfection. By embracing uncertainty and being open to failure, companies can uncover valuable insights, refine their offerings and stay ahead in the innovation curve.

Navigating the transformation journey 

Leaders play a crucial role in setting the vision, fostering a culture of experimentation, and provide the necessary resources and support. Clear communication is paramount to ensure alignment across all levels of the organization. 

Central to a product-centric approach is the reevaluation of performance metrics to align with customer-centric goals. Messecar advocates for “measuring both product performance and employee success, based on factors such as customer satisfaction, adoption rates and long-term customer value.” This shift in measurement practices enables organizations to track progress accurately and drive continuous improvement.

Employees need to understand the rationale behind the shift and how it aligns with the company's long-term goals. Additionally, providing training and mentorship programs can equip teams with the skills and mindset needed to thrive in this new paradigm.

Despite its potential benefits, transitioning to a product-aligned mindset is not without challenges. Resistance to change, fear of failure and ingrained cultural norms can impede progress. However, these obstacles can be overcome through proactive measures.

Encouraging a culture of psychological safety, where employees feel empowered to voice their ideas and concerns, can foster a sense of ownership and collaboration. Moreover, celebrating small wins and learning from failures can help mitigate risk aversion and stimulate innovation.

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Sustaining a cycle of innovation

One of the most compelling advantages of a product-focused approach is its ability to maintain a continuous cycle of innovation over the long term. By prioritizing customer feedback and market insights, companies can iteratively improve their products, staying responsive to evolving needs and trends.

For instance, HCLTech helped a Swedish car manufacturer adopt a product-aligned operating models across its legacy and modern technology portfolio. This helped increase delivery cycles two-fold, resulting in faster time to market and increased user satisfaction, while reducing waste and bringing down stalled initiatives and programs to zero. The initiative led to a 60% reduction in operations efforts, and savings were channeled toward strategic and differentiating initiatives. 

The transition from short-term thinking to a product-aligned strategy is not merely a shift in tactics but a fundamental reorientation of organizational mindset and culture. By prioritizing sustained innovation, measuring outcomes, embracing risk and nurturing a supportive environment, companies can thrive in today's dynamic business landscape. As we navigate the complexities of the future, cultivating a culture of innovation will be the cornerstone of success.

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