Pendo operates a platform that helps product teams with insights, user communication and user guidance. There are currently 850 customers like Salesforce, Coupa, Gainsight, BMC, and Sprinklr.
So yes, Pendo has access to an enormous data set. So putting this to work in a recent research project, the company found that about 80% of features in the typical cloud software product are rarely or never used. The conclusion: about $29.5 billion is wasted.
This is certainly an eye-opener. But then again, the results should not be too surprising. Seriously, how many features have you used in, say, Excel or Word? Probably a tiny fraction.
Now this does not mean you should go full-on minimalist with your product either.
“My personal take on this is that while I’m sure many companies are doing poor product planning and wasting R&D cycles on low-impact product features,” said Judy Loehr, who is the founder of Bayla Ventures and one of the early product managers at Salesforce.com, “you can’t assume that a feature with low usage means low value. In many cloud products there are some features that are highly used and other features with lower usage that can be critical complements to the high-usage features. B2B cloud product strategy should never be driven solely by usage data.”
For example, a disaster recovery feature will probably never be used. But hey, you probably still want it, right?
On the other hand, there is a danger to be too aggressive with some features. This may give a false sense of engagement – even though the users could be getting annoyed and distracted.
“The excitement around AI in B2B analytics software is that it increases the signal/noise ratio,” said Deepa Subramanian, who is the CEO and co-founder of Wootric. “Instead, tell me when I need to pay attention, don’t force me to look at your charts everyday.”
When it comes to product development, there are often few bright-line rules. It’s really a combination of tracking usage, getting feedback from customers, using common sense and being creative.
Although, I do still think it’s a good idea to have a high burden of proof for creating new features.
“We have the advantage with working with many top consumer tech companies like Google and Facebook,” said Sam Boonin, who is the VP of product strategy at Zendesk. “We’ve learned a lot from this, which has helped with our own product. And generally, their apps are not full of features. Top companies understand that users can get overwhelmed.”
In fact, even adding a couple features can cause a stir from your customers!
But of course, for startups, your product is often the key to success. It’s your way to disrupt incumbents and find opportunities for growth.
This is why having a product-driven culture can be so critical.
“An inherent challenge in B2B is we serve two customers – the buyer vs end user,” said Clara Shih, who is the CEO and founder of Hearsay Systems. “Buyers often think they know what end users want, but sometimes they miss the mark. Looking at product usage analytics is only part of the story. What’s been game-changing for us at Hearsay Systems is having everyone in the company spend time with our end users — insurance agents and financial advisors — to first understand the ‘why’ and ‘jobs to be done.’ Especially as a vertical industry-focused company, we can go deep and the usage issues resolve themselves.”