At Vista, we empower our cross-functional teams of data experts to build state-of-the-art data products with autonomy. These powerful data products —whether they are reports, dashboards, forecasts, or algorithms—give critical insights to steer decision-making across our value chain, products, and markets.
Reporting from the frontline of the DnA (Data and Analytics) team, Data Product Manager Miguel Dumont Garcia unpacks how building the right thing and doing it right rests on empowering your team.
Sitting within the personalization domain, the goal is to build and enhance data products to hyper-personalize the customer journey. Within the DnA team at Vista, we work together to create scalable, data-driven experiences that maximize satisfaction for small business owners. Here’s a snapshot of what works for us.
Identify the right thing to build
There’s no difference between building data products or any other type of digital product — it’s about discovering and prioritizing problems, ideating solutions, and going on to build them. The value of a data product resides in the information itself and the insights that its users generate to make data-driven decisions.
The discovery phase often looks like a design thinking process:
We’re in continuous contact with domain representatives and our internal users. This is to identify relevant traits of our end customers which then helps our teams at Vista unlock the best experience for them. All team members should be involved in this phase to build a strong sense of empathy for the small business owners we’re ultimately solving problems for.
Defining the problem statement is key to helping the team originate concepts. We often use mind mapping to connect the dots between users’ pain points and how a data product can solve them.
Working in a cross-functional team with different backgrounds generates diverse and extraordinary ideas. Our team comprises data analysts, data engineers, data scientists and the data product manager — me —bringing together a full skillset to deliver jaw-dropping value for internal users and Vista’s small business customers.
Developing minimum viable products (MVP) and prototypes allows us to test and get feedback with minimal investment.
Build the data product right
Delivery phase: product development lasers in on the building loop — specifically, by reducing it. In this whistle-stop tour of the process, you’ll notice the same proven methodologies from product development appear.
- Lean startup Developing the MVP is all about reducing the impact of failing and starting the build-measure-learn cycle as soon as possible.
- Agile Short incremental iterations shorten the feedback loop, incorporating feedback and data into our product decisions as frequently as possible.
- Lean We focus on reducing waste and friction to deliver value as fast as possible.
Empower the team
Product managers don’t build products; teams do. It’s why empowering people is critical for success: setting a group up to make the right decisions when building a data product is arguably the most important thing a leader does.
As a data product manager, I focus on three areas to bring this to life:
- A clear sense of direction The way to empower a team is by defining purpose — a North Star that guides all decisions. It’s done collaboratively and guides the group’s behavior. At DnA our team is called The Who (inspired by the pioneering British rock band). The name helps tie our team to our North Star vision: better understanding small businesses to win their hearts, minds and loyalty.
- Collaboration framework The Who comes together to clarify and establish our ways of working. As a team leader, I need to provide the group with all the tools that can enhance collaboration, but power stays in the team’s hand — they have the autonomy to decide how they roll.
- Safe space It’s crucial to create an environment where people feel comfortable making decisions. My work around that is to reduce fear of failure by nurturing the right culture — where candid feedback is continuously shared, the team is continuously improving and personal goals and aspirations matter.
The Who in action
As a team, we’re extremely proud of our “Customer Verticals” data product MVP — it predicts which industry Vista customers are in. Beyond enabling a greater understanding of small businesses through an industry lens, its true value lies in empowering our internal teams to create a more personalized experience across customer touchpoints. We’ve tested this data product to justify iterations that improve precision and coverage. It’s already led to a 15% lift in customer engagement through more relevant, personalized, industry-specific marketing content. Right now, we’re back to the discovery and ideation phase – experimenting with new approaches to further improve the predictions.
Ideas that drive results
The Customer Verticals data product demonstrates three key elements coming together: discovering a need, building the right thing, empowering a team to make it a reality. The result of this approach can be transformative for our internal teams and, in the final analysis, the small business heroes Vist serves.
To find out more about what it’s like to work at Vista DnA, visit our blog. Or, if you’d like to join me and the DnA team in building powerful data products that personalize the customer journey, view our careers page.