Telemetry in a product delivery competitive advantage. Image shows product people reviewing data.

How product telemetry will give you a new competitive advantage

Moving to a product-centred delivery approach provides substantial benefits to producers and consumers. Having telemetry is essential in understanding how their products perform as customers use them.

Telemetry enables you to understand how customers use your solutions, and the data it provides will enable more confident, faster decision-making.

Gartner’s 2023 Top Strategic Technology Trends highlights, “By 2026, 70% of organisations that successfully applied observability will achieve shorter latency for decision making, enabling competitive advantage for target business or IT processes.”

What is telemetry?

So what is product telemetry, and why should you care? Telemetry provides a window into how customers use your product and how it performs in those operations. Organisations can get invaluable insights into real-world usage and how it performs in these situations through the systematic collection of data. From the simple, like how many times a calculation occurs, to measuring the drop-off rate in a user journey. 

It’s more than how users use your products, though. Telemetry enables your operations teams to monitor and respond to performance issues before they impact your customers.

To achieve these benefits, you embed automated data collection within your products. How you implement this will depend on the product. From data collectors to sensors in cyber-physical systems, plus communication processes to record areas of interest within the product and surrounding environment.

Planning your implementation

Once you’ve decided to utilise telemetry to supercharge your intelligence and decision-making process, you need a system thinking approach to implementation that considers the data’s entire life cycle from capture and analysis to use.

The first step is to agree and communicate the intent to introduce telemetry. Without this in place, you run the risk of indiscriminate data collection without rhyme or reason. So, you should create a plan based on what to measure and understand what decisions the data will enable. You might want to collect data on specific events or triggers; some will measure the operational state in real time or periodically.

Secondly, you must understand how you will retrieve and store the data. Telemetry can quickly generate a mountain of data. Plan for how you will store it effectively from the digital space required, location and the format that enables integration to provide insights.

Thirdly, plan for the toolset to analyse the data for trends, performance and usage patterns. Will it be a post-event reporting tool or live run-time monitoring and alerting? Your investment will increase the more significant the fidelity and the closer you get to real-time reporting.

Finally, start using the data.

Systematically using telemetry across the entire organisation.

Adding telemetry requires an investment of time and resources to succeed. Therefore, to reap the rewards, you must embed its use in product development and operations on a day-to-day basis.

Product management is among the most active telemetry users in product delivery. All new functionality or features added to the product start as a hypothesis and, therefore, must be proven. The effort to evolve the solution will include adding telemetry to measure the outcomes expected in the hypotheses. Having validated the hypothesis one way or another, you may wish to remove or deactivate the data collection. Some will remain as a long-lasting need. Either way, understand which decision it will drive and when. You will incur product complexity and cost if you collect and retain all data forever.

Users must also consider having a mix of leading and lagging indicators to provide an early indication of success. Read more about this article.

If you also operate your products, such as SAAS, your operation teams will find the telemetry beneficial. Moving beyond seeing the state of the IT infrastructure to one where they can benefit from understanding the actual product effectiveness, as experienced by customers, will enable them to support the best customer experience.

By facilitating the delivery and operational sides of the organisation to access and use the data, expanding its reach through democratising access can bring unexpected benefits. New ideas and solutions can arise with a broader group of people understanding how the product performs. 

In conclusion

Telemetry is a critical product management and operations component for a product-first modern-day company. You will gain invaluable insights that maximise future efforts with a suitable investment and use.

To demonstrate the benefits and interest in telemetry, start simple. For your next product improvement, add some simple measurements to illustrate the benefit of the change. Remember if this shows you didn’t make the world better, this isn’t a failure, but an opportunity for learning.

If you would like to improve how you make decisions in your organisation, then please get in touch.