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Using a Data-Driven Approach to Build the Right Product —Anthony Douglas, Founder & CEO at Hole19

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With a data-driven approach for product development expected to grow exponentially in the next 10 years, it is now timely for product managers, application engineers and marketers to revolutionise their business processes by embracing data to maintain their competitiveness.

Many companies have exhibited data in every aspect of their business and one great example is Hole19, a platform that offers on-course and off-course experiences for golfers in over 150 countries.

As a product development expert, founder, and Chief Executive Officer of Hole19, Anthony Douglas explains how he created an innovative product by using a data-driven approach which increased the customer base and has proven to be the key for product development.

What’s Inside?

  1. Anthony Douglas’s Career Journey
  2. Building the Right Product and Solving Customers’ Problems
  3. Benefits of Data-Driven Approach
  4. The Future of Data-Driven Approach for Product Development
  5. Lesson Learned
  6. Who is Anthony Douglas?

Anthony Douglas‘s Career Journey

When looking for successful entrepreneur stories, Anthony’s story could not be missed. He launched his product, Hole19, a platform connecting the world of golf in 2014, when he was 33 years old.

Anthony hatched the idea to start his company from scratch after a random conversation with his golf coach, during golf lessons for the fun of it, while he was residing in Sweden. We talked about data statistics and that nearly 10% of Sweden’s population plays golf, which hit it off well! I saw a massive opportunity! 

Subsequently, I married both data and sports together to create something innovative that would help golfers track their data. Hole19 allows golfers to plan and track their rounds of golf in a simple way, and we have added a social layer on top of that, allowing golfers of all skill levels to connect with other golfers.

On the consumer front, we are building great on-course and off-course experiences for golfers in over 150 countries, while on the B2B side, Hole19 offers tools for brands and golf courses to engage with this passionate community of active golfers.

In the early days as an entrepreneur, you need to be good at everything; like a ‘Jack of all Trades’. You need to have a wide set of skill sets in order to manage a company and also be good at hiring the right people to complement you in the areas you need most help with.

I consider myself as a product-centric person, who’s able to understand the customer’s needs, and can then translate that into building meaningful experiences in our product. 

Building the Right Product and Solving Customers’ Problems

To deliver the right solutions, one needs to walk in customers’ shoes. Before we let our customers try out our products, we have to first become users of our own products. 

Those who build the product are passionate about what they are building and know the ins and outs of it. We can either get feedback from our 3 million customers, which we do most of the time, or, we can put ourselves in our customers shoes and use the product to better feel the pains that our customers sometimes feel when using our product. Based on that, we can continue to iterate and improve.

While ensuring that we understand what is important for customers, we should never ignore the vision of the company and where we are heading. There needs to be alignment to our long term vision. 

The switching cost between products nowadays is relatively low, so we need to make sure to continually innovate to retain our users and continue to provide value to them.

So how do we do that in practice?

Not only do we conduct surveys and user interviews, where we ask customers open-ended questions on unresolved issues and how we can provide help and make it better, but we also actively A/B test different solutions to better understand what converts a user or keeps them engaged.

Based on this data,  we understand better how our golfers use our product and how to optimise the user journey for them. For example: What needs to be changed? What we have built that people are not using? It’s a blend of analysing data and collecting data that helps in product roadmap decisions.

Benefits of Data-Driven Approach

  • Applying data at every phase of the product development cycle can lead to happier customers and profitable growth for the organisation. The top three lessons learned from a data-driven approach to product development: set up a proper tracking and analytics tool, understand data analytics and dig deeper. 
  • Strategies to promote a product – Blogging, SEO, Paid Acquisition, leveraging the latest technologies and W-O-M.
  • Main drivers for company growth – very cliché but still holds true: The key growth driver of a company is having a great team, because they can help successfully execute the company’s plan and propel growth for the organisation.

The Future of Data-Driven Approach for Product Development

Product management continues to evolve as we get access to more data. The key is filtering what is useful to your business and then acting on this data to further improve your product.

Product managers, engineers and marketeers all need to be data-driven at this point due to burgeoning demand for tracking systems to serve their customers better. As a result,  a data-driven approach enables companies to analyse and organise data for their customers and become more agile and efficient. 

Based on our data-driven development process, we are informed on the way our product is being used and how we can improve and provide value to the users. This, in turn, helps streamline revenue for the company and continue to grow. 

Due to certain privacy regulations, the way we track data has changed, which makes it harder for some companies to understand their customers. It is time to figure out how we can track data in a way that’s not not intrusive to users and customers, but allow companies to continue to improve their products. It’s about finding that balance.

Without data and the resulting actions taken to improve the product, the consumer loses. As developers, we need to develop based on hard facts rather than our own hunches.

Lessons Learned

To deliver the right solution, one needs to walk in customers’ shoes. Before we let our customers try our products, we have to become users of our own products.

As an entrepreneur, you need to have a wide set of skills to manage a company and also be good at hiring the right people to complement your skill-set.

Top three lessons to a data-driven approach for product development: Set up a proper tracking and analytic tool, understand your data and make sure you take action on the data you’re collecting to improve your customers journey. 

Who is Anthony Douglas?

Next steps

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