From product analytics to product observability

Early ventures don't start with optimization. You begin with a big, bold bet that whatever you’re going to make will cause a revolution. Your product goes through several iterations, entirely transforming throughout the process. You test the strength of a founder's dream.

Products at this stage are simple, characterized by one 'killer' feature. Often the product doesn't have the chance to fulfill the advertised value and that's okay. The goal at this stage is to validate the appetite of the users: attract them, disappoint them, and leave them hungry for more.

Product development in this context is chaotic. No roadmap, mostly negative feedback, no clear sense of progress, and definitely no certainty when the next pivot will come. No one knows how the product will look in a month. It's the 'build things that don't scale' phase, taking shortcuts that somewhat work and dealing with most problems later.

This is where your headlight comes in: product analytics. You use product analytics to drill down what works and what doesn't. Product analytics also tell you if people are actually using your product: you choose a 'North Star' metric that guides your company in the right direction and tells you if your efforts are bearing fruit.

Then, the company moves on to the next phase. The road ahead becomes clear, product development becomes more linear, and the product itself stabilizes. It's all about doing more of the same thing. You start to build things that scale. It's the beginning of the optimization phase.

Your roadmap is clearer, traffic grows, the product becomes more and more complex and dynamic. A variety of variables start to influence the way your product performs: marketing, sales, product development, customer success, support, business development, partnerships, promotions, etc.

You realize all of a sudden the data that helped you find your feet is overwhelming you. You're swimming in data from more and more sources about how your user-base is growing, how people are interacting with your brand and your product. As your data stack grows larger and your dashboards multiply, you start getting the feeling that you’re missing something vital.

In this fast-growing deluge of data, a missing piece comes into play: product observability. Product observability keeps track of user behavior all the time, at the finest level of granularity to the highest level of abstraction.

There are many reasons why people change their behavior. Adjustments to the product, holidays, a new offering from a competitor, changing habits, etc. Product observability is capable of spotting those changes and flagging the issue as a problem or, perhaps, an opportunity. Product observability analyzes all your data all the time, noticing the finest-grained changes to overarching trends.

Product observability is proactive. Product observability informs you that something needs your attention due to a change in user behavior. Or, you learn that what you're doing is working really well and you need to double-down on your efforts. You get details on the origin of the changes and the impact it could have on your business.

Once you've reached the market with your product, you already know that you're creating value for people. But now the question becomes how much value can you capture? And for how many users? Product observability optimizes your product's ability to create value by automatically giving you feedback on what you need to fix and keep on doing.

If you’re interested in trying proactive analytics, sign up for Lantern's early access program here.