Your Data is Your Product

As a software engineer and consultant I often see business focusing heavily on the features of their app or website. When spending money they want new and better functionality. When the layperson looks at google they see a search box with search results. When the layperson looks at facebook they see the post to your wall functionality. Often business view their product in the same way. They see the features of the application, not the data that they are generating.

Business that are ahead of the curve see things in the opposite light. They understand that the product they are creating is not primarily the features and functionality, it's the data that they are gathering from content authors to end users. The data is the product. Designs and features are crucial to making that data accessible and profitable, but whether it is product listings, news articles, or blogs, data is king.

Your data is your product

In five or ten years you will be reimplementing your website. In three or four years you will be redesigning your app. These things come and go. What should be lasting is the data that you are authoring, gathering, and organizing. Data is what makes your company unique now and in five years, while your features can be replicated. App features, content creators, web authors; all of these need to be focused on creating and maintaining usable, organized, and profitable data. Product owner's should think in terms of "what data do I want to create and gather" before thinking of "what features do I want to make".

There can be no exceptions to this rule. No stakeholder should have the ability to override data integrity. No product owner should be able to push features forward that mishandle data.

Your data is your product.

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