Recently, we have Mr. Tao, Hollyland product director, interviewed. He has five years of embedded software designer work experience and switched over to be a product manager in 2019. With both professional technology perception and deep marketing insight accumulated, now he works as Hollyland product director and takes charge of all Hollyland product lines, including the latest intercom headset Solidcom C1.
In the interview, he shared his valuable understanding of the market and products from his unique individual career experience and showed practical suggestions to those who intend to be electronic hardware product managers!
Q: Can you talk about the main work content of a product manager?
A: In my opinion, the core task of my position is to capture users’ pain points and convert them into practical product planning. Take mine as an example, I divide my daily work into three main parts, including market research, product planning and product strategy. Before the proposal of a new product, we need to carry out the market research firstly and have the market requirements, market capacity and user current awareness of similar product all figured out; then, based on the information and conclusion we extract from all preliminary research work, we bring forward the product prototype and proposal, which will be assessed by the R&D and production teams, the official project approval usually happens after our proposal’s passing. The third part is to develop a feasible product strategy to provide all the processes from R&D to marketing and sales a consistent guidance. Actually, our work can never be one-off, it’s dynamic and changeable throughout every product’s whole life circle.
Q: How do you find the right time to bring forward a right product? Is there any knack?
Most of the time the idea originates from our customers instead of our team, what we do is to figure out these real requirements and ideas from customers timely. That means we need to keep a close interaction with customers and keep sensitive to all messages they reveal. The only knack I think is to keep a fresh eye on the market.
Q: It is said that you were not a product manager originally, why you chose to turn your career route and to be a product manager？
A: Before becoming a product manager, I had worked as an embedded software engineer for about five years. I encountered some questions like product requirements I got didn’t match users’ actual demands well. An intense intention arose then that I need to be closer to the market and real users and know what they need for certain. For me, first-hand materials are essential.
Q: How do you make sure that a new product does matter to users?
A: Generally, the product needs to go through several phases of user tests before its official launch. After getting an original idea from our client, we will first verify the idea in users’ working environments. We also need to research how large the market can reach, that is, how many users are confused by the same pain points. If we verify that adequate market volume does exist, we will generate a product protocol and send the demo to crucial users for test. The process will be repeated several times, and every time the experienced user group will be expanded further. We’ve accumulated a large volume of user experience in their daily working environments when it’s ready to go to the market.
Q: Now the Solidcom C1 has entered the market for a while and got a lot of attention. Can you share where the original idea of the product came from initially?
A: The idea was from a film rental in early 2019. A camera operator customer told us that it was not convenient to communicate with the director because his hands were occupied by the camera and walkie-talkie, making it impossible to express his ideas with gestures. At that time, we had just begun to plan the prototype. However, the project was delayed due to insufficient market volume and high cost. The project was officially approved about two years later when we thought that time was mature.
Q: So what phenomenon made you feel that the market is ready?
A: The quick rise of the online media industry has generated a large sinking market. Many small and medium video producers and shooting & event service providers attach increasing importance to time and efficiency. Thus users requiring professional real-time communication products became large enough gradually.
Q: Have you encountered some obstacles in the process?
A: Sure, obstacles are everywhere, and problem-solving ability is the crucial power that an excellent team owns. We did confront many difficulties from both inside and outside, including the supply chain, the technical barrier, and the product itself. I think my team does well in dealing with all kinds of problems because they can quickly make a good balance between different conflicts, they are veterans growing out of all kinds of battles and I'm proud of it.
Q: What breakthrough do you think Solidcom C1 has got?
A: I think the DECT 6.0 is an apparent technical breakthrough. It helps us broadly expand the user volume from the core layer. You can understand it like we are making a breakthrough in single-core capacity instead of resorting to more cores to realize capacity upgrade. Although many vendors announce that they also use the technology, we maximize its potential instead of just touching the standard.
Q: What traits do you think are most important for an excellent product manager? Does your technology knowledge have core help?
A: For me, inexhaustible curiosity and tenacity are the most essential traits. I have to admit my technology background did help me because we need to assess the feasibility of every new requirement and frequently communicate with our R&D team, technology perception can help you better comprehend each other and raise efficiency in the early stage. But It’s totally learnable, and I think there are more important things like constant desire to explore and create, excellent tenacity, and strong belief. I think these are the eternal power to push a product manager to always solve tough problems and carry out great products.
Q: What's the biggest difference since you became a director?
A: I didn't feel a noticeable difference at one point in time, every change just happened gradually. However, there are differences between being a specialist and a manager. I need to keep thinking about how to make my team run well and more responsibilities came then. The lucky thing is that Hollyland is an open place, what I need to do is just share my experience with my team and encourage them duly, my members all have strong self-driven power and learning ability.
Q: As I learn, you didn’t do wireless microphone before Lark 150, why did you add it to the product may?
A: The market told us to do that. All the time, our principle is to follow the market demands and follow our users. The product was actually a combination of user requirements and technology accumulation. We saw that the wireless microphones on the market were not ideal enough, so we made brand-new design and did get excellent market recognition. And our wireless transmission technology was cutting-edge and we did make an incomparable advance in its delay performance. You know, we made professional devices that are affordable to normal consumers for many times, Lark 150 was not our first foray in this regard.
Q: What do you think Hollyland's product principle is? Does it conflict with your personal product philosophy?
A: I think Hollyland's and mine are both customer-first, that is, our product must be able to solve customers' practical and key problems. To practice the principle we will keep a close relationship and interact with customers all the time. Let me take myself as an example. Now, I will spend half of my working time with customers, and I will stay in the daily working environment with customers to observe their real needs and pain points. My members do the same, and I think it's just the key to our consistent product reputation.