External Information Product Managers Should Tap
My past few posts gave you a good idea at all that’s to be gained from your internal resources. Now, let’s look at external information sources – analyst reports, 10K reports, websites and social media.
Industry Analysts Open Doors on Your Competition
Industry analysts regularly interview and survey market participants to glean information on trends, directional forecasts, and models. Most analysts focus on a single industry. However, their organizations may deal with a variety of industry segments. Analysts gather their information by interviewing vendors, investors, business partners, buyers, and users in the industry. Collectively, the results of these interviews and surveys allow analysts to create a composite view of the market. Results of the analysis are shared through publications, client briefings, consulting, and public speaking. If analysts cover your industry, it behooves you to read copies of the reports. By reading these reports, you can stay on top of trends, identify key market players, and discover business models in use. You can also find out the metrics used to measure success.
10-K Reports and the Product Manager
Companies with more than 500 shareholders annually must submit a 10-K report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The 10-K report gives a detailed overview of a companies performance. These reports provide information in these areas:
- Business overview
- Risk factors
- Legal proceedings
- Voting matters
- Market information
- Consolidated financial data
- Management discussion and analysis
The 10-K is different from an annual report, because it is an official document for the government. As a product manager you’ll find both 10-K and annual reports to be valuable information sources. You can learn about your competitors’ market activities, areas of focus, and finances. Filed 10-K reports are available for free online. Visit the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system (EDGAR database).
Product Managers Should Stay on Top of Competitors’ Websites
Your competitors’ websites provide you with information on their products, industry announcements, and management presentations to stockholders. Check them out regularly to gain a better understanding of your industry and competition.
Keep Up With Social Media
These days you can do a lot more than share vacation photos on social media. Today, nearly every organization has a social media presence. Product managers gain valuable competitive information through blogs, discussion groups and other postings where customers and prospects interact. Listen to what customers are saying to hone in on the important themes and trends. Note who is actually conversing. Through social media you can gain useful data that can help improve your own products.
If you make use of all the resources discussed in this and previous recent posts, you will possess an extraordinary amount of valuable information. My next post will focus on using the information gained to delve into your organization’s future plans.