Today apps are overtaking traditional websites in offering more than services, such as bank account access or being able to order a pizza. Apps often gives their users access to data, and not just a large amount of data that doesn’t have much value, but data that is specifically designed to give value to the user.
What is Data as a Feature?
Data as a feature is the act and process of treating data as the main feature of a software product in the way it delivers value to the user. A product with data as a feature, such as a bank account app, delivers data in a way that helps the user meet a specific goal e.g. checking their bank account balance in real time.
Consumerizing applications and making data easier for users to digest is a huge trend, and decisions are made for this which affects apps and services across all industries. So, is the CDO ready for this new trend, and for offering “data as a feature” to customers and consumers? As they come to expect more along with value, demand and deep insights, software product managers are often tasked with the responsibility of making sure that “data as a feature” is successfully implemented in the apps they are designing and bringing to market. If they can package and deliver data effectively in a product, users can be more informed.
Why build data as a feature?
Today, everyone is overwhelmed with data. Business users too have data being bombarded at them from all angles, so the challenge has shifted. Previously users asked for more data, but now they are getting too much of it. They want to get value out of it but are overwhelmed. Software developers have responded to this by translating and presenting data to users in a way that they can use immediately and with which they can act straight away. Data as a feature is being built into their apps and data is being displayed in visually appealing, easily consumable and intuitive ways.
CDO’s today face a large addition to their duties, they now need to begin treating data as a feature in the products they are building. In other words, data should not be viewed as merely a byproduct of apps, but as a main feature.
In order to undertake this successfully, it is crucial to know who is going to be using your products, what their data needs are and how specific data-driven “slice of business functionality” could help users meet their needs. “Design thinking” is important, even critical, but even more so is “goal thinking”. What are your user’s goals, and how do you represent data in a way that helps them achieve those goals?
These are important questions, and CDO’s are often the ones who must bring this altogether. They need to understand the data needs – and goals – of their users, keep the apps that are being developed aligned with the goals of their business and deliver first-class user experiences with data that is in the confines of their technical capabilities, and balance the inputs of their developers, UX designers, and users who have their own visions for products that bring real value to the marketplace.