New research

New report shares findings on the state of European product leadership

Published Apr 21, 2022

Did you recently use an app or other digital tool that offered such a poor user experience that you ditched it almost immediately? You’re not alone: According to Gartner®, “by 2025, more than half of users will resist (i.e., using minimal features, avoiding or delaying) using applications that deliver a poor user experience (UX), up from 40% in 2021.”

Tech firms across Europe have taken note of this, and they’re investing heavily in developing seamless, intuitive experiences on the products they’re building. Much of that investment has gone towards finding ways to draw better insights from both qualitative and quantitative data sources and developing better metrics for tracking impact and success. And product teams are at the forefront of each of those initiatives.

That’s one of the key findings of our annual “State of Product Leadership, Europe” report, in which we survey hundreds of product managers and executives working largely for B2B software companies and traditional enterprises across France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. 

Here are a few other takeaways:

Product’s influence only continues to grow

The influence of product teams is now being felt at the furthest reaches of every organization, with product leaders assuming responsibility for an increasingly diverse range of customer-focused tasks, including onboarding, training, CSAT, and sales enablement, among others.

They’ve also become the vanguard of their organization’s digital transformation efforts. We reported this trend in last year’s report, but this time around product teams at leading companies were found to be twice as likely to have taken a role in driving their company’s digital transformations than their mainstream competitors.

Quality over quantity

Gone are the days of product leadership’s value being pegged to the sheer number of new features or products launched each quarter or year. Though roadmap delivery featured prominently as a priority for product teams in last year’s report, respondents said getting people to actually use their product—and keep using—has become a much more important area of focus these days. And, a product org’s success is more likely to be judged based on revenue results than delivery metrics.

In short, companies are becoming more focused on optimizing and driving adoption of the products they’ve already built, rather than introducing new ones.

Data is king in 2022

So how are product teams working to optimize those software experiences and drive up adoption? With data, of course. Lots and lots of data.

71% of respondents reported using much more quantitative data than ever before to make better roadmapping decisions. That’s almost a complete inversion of last year’s results, when qualitative data accounted for 63% of the fuel for those decisions. This indicates that product leaders have begun to realize how powerful quantitative data is for aligning their org around a shared foundation for measurement, driving adoption, and growth—metrics that are critical to a business’s health.

Still, of that sample a full 32% of respondents say they’re still basing their decisions entirely on instinct, so qualitative data remains an important part of product decision making.

Balancing the tech stack

All that data has to come from somewhere, right? That’s why product leaders report that they’ve invested more heavily in putting the right tech stack into place than ever—a full 52% more. Only 3% of respondents said they were investing less in their tech stack. These investments include tools for obtaining usage/product analytics, conducting CSAT and NPS surveys, gathering competitor market intelligence, and collecting real-time user feedback.

Despite that investment, a third of respondents said they still don’t feel like they have the right tools in place, and that presents a barrier to data-driven product development. The only two problems they reported as more pressing were a reliance on instinct over data and fragmentation or siloing of the data they do have—both issues that can be tied directly to the inadequate tech stack problem.

With all of that new technology coming into the org, however, most respondents recognized the need for effective governance and processes to manage it all. Otherwise, they won’t be able to leverage all the data they’re collecting to its fullest potential. 

The most common solution for this problem is to stand up a product operations team. Product operations teams, often called the “connective tissue between teams,” are responsible for helping product management make more reliable decisions by equipping them with relevant product data. Product ops also works to make product data more accessible throughout the business, enabling more teams within and outside product development to leverage product data in decision making. 

The European product leader’s next steps

So, what can we draw from all of these findings? That European product teams looking to become market leaders on the cutting edge of digital transformation need to put the right infrastructure in place to gather and analyze powerful new sources of data—but in a way that is scalable and efficient.

Doing this right will all but ensure that your team is positioned to deliver the seamless, cohesive, and intuitive product experiences your customers are demanding.

Ready to take a deeper dive into the data? Download the full “State of Product Leadership, Europe 2022” report here.