New research from the pioneering team of industry leaders at Zero100 suggests that the era of the customer-driven product cycle is no longer far off—it’s very much upon us. Citing the “current power imbalance favoring customer demand,” their new study suggests customers are seizing control of the market space whether product companies are ready for it or not.
Given the advantages of digitization for the revenue model, leaders in product management are faced with a pivotal decision. Those who are successfully connecting with their customer at the beginning of the product cycle establish what Zero100 is terming the “Infinite Loop.”
It’s time for these same leaders to ask themselves what they can do to close their “loop” by connecting with customer demand.
The Digital Demand Chain
In their resource, Zero100 makes the observation that “a teeanger with an iPhone has more powerful ‘digital demand’ than any brand owner, retailer, or industrial concern can match” even when they’re shelling out billions into an ERP. Companies who rely on legacy systems aren’t just lagging behind, they’re being lapped.
End-to-end, the impetus of the product management cycle has shifted swiftly in favor of demand due to rapid digitization in the everyday lives of the consumer. Zero100 estimates that the “demand chain is 5-10 times more ‘digitally dense’ than the supply chain.”
Though it may seem apparent in the everyday evidence of this digital imbalance, leaders are likely already aware that customers are expecting more digital-first approaches to product development.
Moreover, perspectives are shifting among their own ranks. From their survey of US Supply Chain professionals, Zero100 found that 56% agreed that the “balance of power” is shifting in favor of the demand side.
While digitization and cloud-based solutions have been around for a few years now, that crucial data gap between product management and commercialization continues to widen.
No More Linear Thinking
Coming off two years of pandemic upheaval, an ongoing supply chain crisis across the globe, in the throes of a war that will likely deepen the chaos, it’s easy for product company leaders to feel unsure what step to take next.
Zero100 suggests a surefire way for a company to cut through the uncertainty is to deepen their connection with the one reliable source of information they have: the customer.
Easier said than done perhaps, listening to the customer means supply chain-reliant companies will have to think outside of their historically linear processes. The best-in-class cases are already building loyalty by thinking with the “infinite loop” in mind.
High-tech brand leader HP has adopted subscription models for their ink and toners, ensuring a constant connection between product and customer and ensuring recurring revenue.
While models for customer success and product management are bound to vary for each business, Zero100 developed a basic visual for the “Infinite Loop” product cycle.
In this chart, the demand side is in equal proportion to the supply side – with the key looping step to “Regenerate” your product marketing cycle by incorporating the valuable customer insights back into the “Source” step.
Of course, the people behind the loop are where it truly comes together successfully. When product managers and marketing teams can communicate their learnings directly with one another in real time, brand regeneration becomes easy and the “Source” builds off rich information rather than starting from scratch.
Closing the ‘Infinite Loop’
Treating the end user as the starting point is a daunting shift away from the straight, familiar line from ideation to delivery that product managers are used to.
But those trailblazers who’ve already begun engaging with customers first-hand are becoming leaders in their industries and growing their revenue.
Though traditional PLMs open many valuable doors for product data access, they leave the door shut on the customer. Solutions like Propel software enable users from the very start of the product cycle to harness the valuable information from the final link in the demand chain.
Zero100’s mission is to inform and empower supply chain companies looking to pivot to ESG (environmental, social, and governance) commitment. With rapid digitization in the demand chain, “operations leaders [are making] strategic bets on digital capabilities’' to meet “rising customer expectations of accountability for environmental and social impact.”
Bringing in a digital-forward “Infinite Loop” style of product management is therefore a planet-friendly value prop in addition to being the key to a successful revenue model.
It’s time to loop in the demand chain. It’s time to build trust, brand loyalty, market share, and revenue by putting the customer in the front seat.
Want more from Zero100? Get insights from Co-Founder Kevin O’Marah at this year’s Propulsion 2022, where he’ll be speaking about the move to environmental commitments during his keynote “Reaching Carbon Zero with Supply Chain Balance.” Register now for the industry event for leaders of product and commercial teams in medical device, electronics & high tech, consumer goods, and industrial equipment markets.