In a Demanding Macro-Environment and Digital-First World, Product-Centricity Wins


A product-centric approach gives enterprises the best shot at achieving a long-term, self-propelled strategy for innovation and business resilience.

Even though economic challenges persist, enterprises cannot afford to pull back on their digital transformation budgets, considering the intensely competitive nature of business today. The need for speed in delivering positive outcomes and value is topmost, and enterprises must invest in or continue seeking digital tools and technologies that will ensure they keep up with competitors. This is creating a tug-of-war scenario for business leaders as they must reconcile these investment costs and the value generated.

The increasing shift to a digital-first world has amplified the need for sustainable innovation and value realization. Organizations investing in tech are also cognizant of the need to evolve quickly and consistently deliver innovative capabilities. However, as we have seen with many traditional businesses embarking on digitalization, the keys to unlocking sustainable innovation have proved elusive. In setting the pace of disruptive innovation, digital natives have stolen a march over incumbents who are struggling to match it.

The inhibitors to sustainable innovation and flow of value

The main advantage for digital natives is that they are true-blue technology companies from the get-go. Their systems and processes are equipped to handle new product releases at a fast clip while continuously looping in product enhancements based on customer or market feedback.

This is the essence of sustainable innovation driven by customer-centricity and agility, where the enterprise can develop and take a single product, capability, or service to the market at the necessary pace. At the same time, they can continuously improve or even sunset it at the right time.

In contrast, traditional enterprises are often disadvantaged because they lack this kind of environment, agility, and ability to leverage ecosystems that make sustainable innovation a reality.

While these enterprises are digitalizing on a parallel track, they grapple with fragmented value chains and disparate and disconnected functions with little or no alignment between business and technology and the needs of customers. As a result, there is no unified framework they can rely on to collaborate and convert ideas to innovative solutions promptly and keep up a steady stream of business and value.

Moreover, product development itself is implemented from a project standpoint where the teams that helped build the product are not the teams that help maintain and monitor its performance. Communications are further hampered in the absence of a channel to capture user insights or market and tech reviews that inform future improvements. Within the organizational culture, there is no well-oiled mechanism to shepherd continuous thinking toward product enhancements or innovation. Externally, too, they need access to a robust partner ecosystem to bring in readily available solutions and speed up their innovation.

In light of these challenges, many traditional enterprises have taken the Agile and DevOps route to accelerate product development and innovation. However, there is still insufficient alignment between business and technology organizations – often, the latter drives the adoption without buy-in from other key functions. Even within the IT organization, adoption is not uniform – the synergy between teams, which is essential for successful product releases, is missing. Despite engineering being able to significantly fast-track product releases, business is unable to see actual value.

See also: 4 Tech Solutions Helping SMBs Thrive

The merits of a product-centric approach to development

There is a clear message for the C-Suite at traditional enterprises – “Transform the operating model and find a modern approach that allows for maximizing the potential of Agile-DevOps, makes the product journey an engine for growth, and clears the organizational pathways for sustainable innovation.”

As corroborated by industry research, more senior executives at companies are seriously evaluating the merits of a product-led organization to augment Agile-DevOps so as to deliver optimum results.

One of the biggest advantages of product-centric development is that it shakes off the constraints of the cost-and-time-bound model and project-based outputs to focus on business outcomes. Rooted in design thinking principles and supported by advanced technologies, it makes the human experience the centerpiece around which the product development strategy is woven. Enterprises will benefit from enterprise-wide technology adoption and be able to encourage a lateral thinking mindset in product development. Overall, this is a much-needed mindset shift achieved by improving interoperability and aligning business and IT functions more closely, which leads to agility, cohesive operations, and accelerated business value.

A final word on product-centric thinking

Today’s macro-environmental and digital-first demands are not going away anytime soon. To stay relevant, most enterprises are banking on a technology framework of micro-services, API-first, cloud-native, and headless principles, and hand-picked technologies that can bolster their Agile and DevOps adoption. But even this strategy falls short in extracting the full potential of Agile-DevOps because of the residual challenges that it fails to address.

The product-centric approach gives enterprises the best shot at emerging on the other side of these challenges with a long-term, self-propelled strategy for innovation and business resilience. The underlying reason is that it mandates an organizational transformation from isolated functions to interconnected value streams and a cultural switch from project thinking to product thinking. Only then can it mobilize a unified team with an enterprise-wide view into customer needs and collaborative ideation to define a roadmap for sustainable innovation.

Alok Uniyal

About Alok Uniyal

Alok Uniyal leads the Process Consulting Practice at Infosys, which helps clients drive Agility, Efficiency, and Reliability in their IT Ecosystems. He has over 23 years of experience – spanning across IT Consulting and Enterprise Quality Management. He has been a trusted Advisor to clients on Agile & DevOps transformation and an Evangelist of Agile & DevOps adoption at Infosys. He has consulted clients globally – across the U.S., Europe & APAC.

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