Agile Development’s Biggest Failure Point—and How to Fix It

Companies commonly make one of two mistakes when selecting a product owner. Often they tap a junior employee with ­limited experience and therefore a limited understanding of how the project fits into the larger mission. Product owners need enough seniority to inspire and motivate peers across multiple business units. By earning the respect of teams in customer experience, enterprise architecture, and risk and compliance, for example, the ­product owner can help ensure that ­projects move smoothly without costly ­bottlenecks. Other companies err in the ­opposite direction, selecting a senior ­executive who is too harried to devote ­adequate time and may not adapt well to the highly responsive, iterative nature of agile development.
So what should companies look for when appointing product owners? In our view, the key is to find people who think and ­behave like entrepreneurs.

Much of the advice here falls under the category of “if you do good things, good things happen”:

success comes from simply managing a sound process: conducting market ­research, understanding the customer’s needs, identifying where the product will create the most value, prioritizing the most important features, testing ideas, capturing customer feedback, and continuously ­refining their vision over time.

The tasks is setting up and environment, processes, even “culture” that encloses and rewards good behavior like this. And the protecting that structure from corporate barbarians. That’s a job – and the responsibility – of management. So, perhaps it’s good to get some management consulting advice on what good looks like.

Source: Agile Development’s Biggest Failure Point—and How to Fix It

Would you buy auto insurance from Google? The Kids and auto insurance

The young people account for 20% of of the $180bn US auto insurance market. Here’s some trends in their buying behavior a la a BCG infographic:

Infographic on car insurance buying habits.

Some items:

  • That nearly 40% are willing to buy from Amazon, Google, and others should put traditional insurance vendors in full on freak out mode.
  • Once The Kids start the long (up to two weeks!) research process, they’re 70% more likely to switch than The Olds. So, it’s probably a good idea for incumbents to heavily get involved in research, pointing to native content sponsored “third parties” and providing their own research.
  • As one of our Pivotal customers, Allstate, put it: “Everybody is going to disrupt the insurance industry. It hasn’t been disrupted in eighty-plus years.”

Source: bcg.perspectives – How Digital Switchers Are Disrupting US Auto Insurers

How Asset Managers Can Succeed with Advanced Analytics

A nice overview of what you’d use analytics fit in investing:

Armed with these advanced techniques, digitally forward asset managers can gain a significant information advantage over peers who rely mainly on traditional data sources and analytical practices. They can crunch through vast quantities of data; scour video and satellite imagery to gauge a retailer’s Black Friday prospects; extract insights from social media, texts, and e-mail to divine market sentiment; and parse a CEO’s comments during an earnings call to estimate the potential impact on the next quarter’s results. They can discern how unexpected weather disruptions might affect their portfolio, and even disprove long-held beliefs about how markets work. Smart, dynamic investment technology also helps managers assess their own performance to see whether they may be making the right decisions at the wrong times, buying too late, or listening to “influencers” who push them in the wrong direction.

There’s also a good overview of how to introduce new approaches like the above into the organization without it be Big Bang projects, likely to fail:

In experimenting with new technologies, firms should prioritize a small number of targeted initiatives that can deliver immediate tangible benefits in a focused, resource-­constrained way. In doing so, they should resist two temptations: the “esoteric science experiment,” whose focus is so narrow that the initiative can’t yield scalable results; and the “big bang rollout,” whose scope is so ambitious that it has a daunting price tag and takes too long to demonstrate value.

Source: How Asset Managers Can Succeed with Advanced Analytics

Advice for Dairy Maids

The reality is that it is only the `cash cows’ that are really important—all the other elements are supporting actors. It is a foolish vendor who diverts funds from a `cash cow’ when these are needed to extend the life of that `product’. Although it is necessary to recognize a `dog’ when it appears (at least before it bites you) it would be foolish in the extreme to create one in order to balance up the picture. The vendor, who has most of his (or her) products in the `cash cow’ quadrant, should consider himself (or herself) fortunate indeed, and an excellent marketer, although he or she might also consider creating a few stars as an insurance policy against unexpected future developments and, perhaps, to add some extra growth. There is also a common misconception that ‘dogs’ are a waste of resources. In many markets ‘dogs’ can be considered loss-leaders that while not themselves profitable will lead to increased sales in other profitable areas.

Growth-share matrix