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Why the “Tech Management Trinity” Should be the Holy Grail for Companies

July 3, 2023 No Comments

by Zihao Li

A triangle holds a significant position among geometric shapes due to its inherent strength, with an equilateral triangle, where all three sides are equal, being the strongest variant. As such, a triangle is a good analogy representing the “tech management trinity” (TMT), which comprises three essential components crucial for the effective management of technology-oriented businesses. These include data for informed decision-making, products representing innovation and market value, and people who are the talented individuals responsible for product development. While it may be tempting to say that product development is the most important part of the TMT, all three legs are equally vital. Businesses that approach their mission with an eye on this trinity, embracing the interdependence of data, products, and people, will find themselves ahead of others that opt for a narrow, linear perspective.

The three legs of the TMT triangle

When embarking on any technology project, it is critical to consider the three components of the TMT.

Data. At the foundation of the TMT triangle lies data governance, which involves establishing policies, procedures, and standards for data management, ensuring that data is accurate, reliable, and secure, and defining roles and responsibilities for data management throughout the lifecycle. In addition, data plays a crucial role in understanding customer needs. By collecting and analyzing information on customer behavior and preferences, companies can gain valuable insights into what their customers truly want and need. This can help to inform product development and design, ensuring that they are tailored to meet customer needs and preferences. Adopting a TMT approach also enhances and accelerates product management. Data collected from customers after an initial product release—including the number of products purchased, the percentage returned, and positive or negative feedback—allows for more rapid revisions involving a larger group of stakeholders.

The concept of product development itself is not new. What is new and has been accelerated by artificial intelligence (AI) is the collection of real-time data. Analyzing that treasure trove of information to make it more practical for product development is enhanced by data visualization, where the information collected, processed, and modeled must be visualized to reach a conclusion on how to proceed. Data visualization is a component of the data presentation architecture (DPA) methodology, which aims to deliver that data in the most efficient way. It’s where that digital cache in the pursuit of TMT can be employed to aid in drawing conclusions and determining the best course of action for product development, ultimately strengthening all three sides of that triangle.

 Product. The information collected and analyzed to determine customer behavior and patterns will help inform product innovation, development, and timelines. Companies can leverage technology to create innovative products and services that enhance people’s experiences. For example, businesses can use data analytics and AI to personalize product recommendations or offer customized solutions to customers. Too often, stories chronicle top executives who did not listen to employees about their misgivings about a product’s development or ignored warning signs in the collected data that the company was headed in the wrong direction. Instead, fostering a culture that values employee input and heeds warning signs from collected data contributes to improved product functionality and the ability to make timely adjustments to tap the brakes and be more deliberate.

People. Once the product development plan is in place, it’s time to incorporate the third leg—the human factor—of the TMT triangle and invite employees into the process. Fostering a culture of innovation and encouraging employees to think about new ideas and technologies beyond traditional boundaries are essential. An atmosphere where a diverse group of employees feels valued can also unlock a wealth of creativity and an emergence of fresh perspectives in development that appears after data collection and analysis. Yet, this type of environment must come with a visible and consistent commitment from leadership to move the business toward inclusion and diversity when it comes to product development., and this commitment should be reflected in policies, practices, and decision-making processes throughout the organization. Moreover, nurturing a culture where employees feel respected, valued, and recognized for their contributions has numerous benefits, such as greater employee retention, as individuals who perceive their worth and impact tend to remain committed to their organizations. By retaining talented and experienced employees, companies can maintain a competitive advantage and ensure continuity in product development efforts.

Human-centered design

The failure of startups or the lackluster reception of new products by established businesses can often be attributed to building solutions that do not resonate in the marketplace. Customers then seek alternatives for solutions that better address their needs and desires. As a major component of the TMT trinity, human-centered design puts people at the nexus of the development process, creating products that truly resonate and are tailored to the needs of their target audience. There are four key steps of human-centered design that can strengthen the TMT approach:

Clarify. The first step involves developing empathy by discerning and understanding the target audience, considering their perspectives, challenges, and pain points with existing products. Oral-B, for example, developed a new best-selling toothbrush for young children based on observations of kids brushing their teeth and realized children could benefit from a wider handle to accommodate their limited dexterity compared to adults.

Ideate. This step includes brainstorming sessions to overcome cognitive fixedness, which is the tendency to rely on conventional approaches. Encouraging creative thinking allows for diverse ideas to emerge and encourages potential innovation in product development.

Develop. During product development, it is essential to consider factors such as feasibility, desirability, viability, and sustainability. This entails transforming ideas from concept to reality, ensuring that the product aligns with market demands while being technically feasible, financially viable, and environmentally sustainable.

Implementation. This is the ultimate test to determine whether the TMT approach was successful. Communicating a new service or product’s value to stakeholders and consumers is an easier process when a human-centered design is at the center of that formulation. Organizations can present solutions that resonate with their target audience and generate positive reception by placing users at the center of the design process.

Technology-based companies that started in the digital data era often possess greater fluency in the TMT approach. This is because they know to avoid the strict hierarchical corporate structure found in more established industries, such as financial institutions, and instead strive to unleash creative talent and take full advantage of the data collected to generate the next great idea.

The TMT trinity works

The implementation of the TMT approach does not necessarily require expensive consultants or elaborate management retreats; its components are typically already present in most workplaces. The key lies in recognizing and linking together the three components—data, products, and people. An uneven focus on one or two sides of the triangle, instead of employing all three angles to their fullest potential, may expose weak spots that are most evident in the product development stage.

It’s no surprise that when employees are invested and the data collected is optimally leveraged to gain insights into what customers really want, the company will create better products. Embracing a top-down approach that fails to recognize or harness the valuable perspectives and skills of employees at all levels of the hierarchical structure may put businesses at a competitive disadvantage. In contrast, they may lose valuable talent to companies that embrace the TMT approach, drawn to the more collaborative and inclusive culture. By integrating and balancing the three TMT pillars, organizations will create sustainable business models and achieve long-term success in the fast-paced and ever-evolving tech industry. Recognizing the interconnectedness of these components and leveraging their collective potential will enable companies to thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

About the Author:

Zihao Li is a senior-level expert on product and data management with additional experience as a software engineer and expertise in stakeholder engagement, financial planning, and data analysis. He holds a Master of Science degree in information science from UNC Chapel Hill. For more information, connect at LinkedIn.

Social media links: http://www.linkedin.com/in/zihaoli17

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