Wine 2.0 needs Product Management…

In a proper high-tech organization, Product Management, basically, takes the highly complex technology that is created by high-tech companies and translates that into real, applicable solutions for real problems. The product manager needs to understand the target customer at a level that they don’t even understand themselves so that you can proactively identify the need of the customer before they can articulate it. If the customer articulates the need, then its probably too late for that product idea because they got the idea by seeing somewhere else first.

The Product Manager also needs to understand, in painful detail, what the technology is capable of (hence the need for well rounded individuals). Bottom line, the Product Manager that knows these two areas best will win the day in the marketplace because he or she will define products that ultimately will catch lightning in a bottle and launch a company to stardom. This is, without a doubt, a full-time…no life time job. Product Management takes on this challenge to allow engineering like the lovely woman in the above picture do what they do best – engineer.

So whats the linkage between Wine 2.0 and product management? I’ve been involved with and following “wine 2.0” since before that term stuck and we were all just a bunch of bloggers with web skills and a passion for wine poking around with open-source gizmos. I thank <insert your respective higher power here/> that I got into this so early because I’ve seen quite an evolution. Many good technologies have been developed.

But the main problem, and its exemplified by the recent Wine 2.0 conference, is that many of the people coming in and trying to apply technology to the beautiful, social experience we know as wine seem to be throwing technology out there with hopes that it will stick somewhere. This is where engineers need to find good Product Management. What proper product management can provide is the expertise needed to guide the technology, target it, and maximize the chances for success. Now I know that there are the “continual development” or “agile

development” fans out there that say put it up and keep engineering. Let me tell you that while the Internet makes that philosophy possible and less expensive, its still a waste of money. I agree, put it up and keep innovating. But I am going to add a critical element to this “agile development” philosophy – innovate toward something. Innovate to solve something like no one has ever solved it before. But have a target. Sure, you might get luck and fall ass-backward into a billion dollars like the YouTube guys (make no mistake, total luck – I read an article where they said they intended for the site to go in a different direction originally but it ended up here through smart users and I submit that if they had good product management then they would’ve anticipated how the users would have used it…but engineers often don’t understand PMs or haven’t worked with good ones). Wine 2.0 is in desparate need of Product Management as it starts to gain momentum.

How do I know that there is no Product Management out there? Easy. This market is at a point where when someone hits on even a modest idea, there is an avalanche of followers – even when there is no obvious way to make a business out of it. I consult for VCs, companies large and small, and even “Wine2.0” companies and I can tell you that its amazing the number of aimless companies out there taking shotgun approaches because the shells are relatively cheap. Instead of wasting time and money with these shotgun, “see what sticks” approaches, Wine2.0 is missing the opportunity to focus early and keep as much equity as possible (because startup funding is low) in your successful business. Product Management, quite simply, is the only way to do that. Period.

Wine 2.0 is begging for product management and the number of talented developers out there working on wine projects is increasing daily. But if I hear one more “this will simplify wine for everyday people and/or drinking” pitch, I’m going to shoot that person, myself, and his/her dog!

Wine lovers who happen to be starting these sites PLEASE keep innovating. Its wonderful to be a part of all this great stuff. I’m just submitting that the innovations would come faster, better, and more useful if there were a modicum of Product Management discipline!

Enjoy the Wine Life!

Author: Joel Vincent

Growth Hacker and wine lover

4 thoughts on “Wine 2.0 needs Product Management…”

  1. As someone who spent a lot of time in the tech world before making the big leap to the wine world, I simply cannot agree with you more. I was one of those engineers that actually understood product engineers and sought them out…. In fact, you may receive very few comments to your post simply because you made the point so well…

    In Wine 2.0 land, I have gotten to the point where I am performing a form of triage: If your site, service, whatever is not immediately easy to use and meets my needs as a winery, I’m outta there. I popped over to one of the new darlings recently and checked out after five minutes – do they really expect me to spend several hours loading up their database for them? What is my return on that (considerable) investment?

    Like

  2. Great article and one that we can all take to heart. To many ideas and at times a real lack of focus. Right now I’m so confused at why we need 300 variations on TN sites? In teh end they all do one little thing different, and nothing that makes me say: “Hey they go it right”
    THanks for the post…I’m passing it on…

    Like

  3. interesting. but what happens, as a developer, when you have the target market and concept well thought out, and you’re aware that the technology end of things needs to operate a certain way…but you don’t have an engineering degree yourself nor the resources to allocate (money-wise) to that area?

    There are lots of wine 2.0 people who are approaching things from a more conceptual, less technical end.

    My compromise has been to start small and simple, and go after a very specific niche (rather than something like youtube, whose brilliance — accidental or not — was the fact that its market turned out to be anybody and everybody).

    Like

  4. Ryan, thanks! I appreciate it…

    JB, starting out niche is the right thing esp if you have limited resources. In fact, its the only way to start. Come up with the idea and think it through and, from there, continually develop and progress toward your goal.

    What I’m saying is that there’s lots of technology trying to find a problem in the Wine 2.0 world. It gives the space the appearance of being “crowded” when in reality there just isn’t enough thought being put into what problem is being solved.

    If all the technology is trying to skin the same fish in a different way then thats evidence of a lack of thought. If its serving one purpose without understand the impact to different parts of the supply chain (as El Jefe points out) that, again, is not a well thought out idea. No idea of how you’re going to make money? Same problem.

    Some might argue “well, Amazon.com in 1999 had no way visibility on when they’d make money…” Not true. They didn’t know when they’d turn a PROFIT(EBIT), but they clearly had a plan to earn revenue. Cork’d? Guess what, no plan there but they were first with a new idea and well implemented so they got bought out…if they had a plan for revenue and profit, they could’ve gotten a high valuation. But guess what – there are 1 or 2 others that MIGHT get bought out…MAYBE. and if another one does, the valuation will be relatively low because, as I stated in my post about Cork’d, I just don’t see value in that site with out 6-digit number of users. Thats it for acquisitions in this space until someone comes up with something truly original and useful.

    Wine 2.0 technologies, in many ways, don’t even have any idea how they’ll make money. Its all about throwing things out there and seeing what will stick. If you’ve thought things through and are starting smaller because of your resources then I’d say you’re on the right track. The Wine world is so wide open for this technology because there are so many tech people who love wine and wine, in general, has a lot of modernizing to do its freakin’ crazy.

    Put some thought into it, apply some Prod Mgt discipline, go forth and conquer. There is PLENTY of opp’y out there for this technology. You’ve just got to learn how to read between the lines of the business…

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s