Technology based products don’t age gracefully. Something breaks and it isn’t completely fixed. A feature gets added that impacts overall product performance. The architecture starts to constrain what features can be added. A capability the product implemented is now provided for free by the operating system.
Engineering teams continually redo working code to fix some of these problems (it’s called refactoring), but at some point, you’re going to have to start again on a next generation product. One that’s built on today’s technologies and anticipates future needs.
For most product teams the prospect of starting again is both exciting and daunting.
Exciting because all product teams live for the opportunity to build something new. “At last! A green field! The possibilities are endless!”
Daunting because the team has to do the hard work to figure out exactly what the new product should do. After all, you already have a product that serves the needs of your existing customers and you can be sure there are users out there that find utility in each and every feature your product offers. “This is too hard! Let’s just re-make the product we already have!”
This is what makes product development so interesting: navigating your way through the competing demands of existing customers, future customers, the support team, the product team, the executive team.... it's not for the faint of heart.
For SST and our longer term customers we traveled this path before when we transitioned from an on-premises software product to a cloud based service. Along the way we undoubtably lost some of the capabilities of the client application, but gained a whole new level of service availability and incident classification accuracy with the SST incident review center. Today we’re on the cusp of another change as we look closely at our Flex applications and start planning a future where they are replaced by web browser and native mobile apps. “The possibilities are endless!”
Looking ahead, I’ll be blogging on and off about some of the product decisions we are making at SST.