Rollerblading’s Resurgence and Roadmap Lessons for Software Product Managers

Sales of many items have surged over the last four months, such that sourcing and acquiring them have turned us all into amateur procurement specialists. But the resurgence in popularity and the difficulty of obtaining one item in particular was tough to foresee: inline skates.

Sales of Rollerblades–the most iconic brand of the inline skate family–are up 300% (which several articles attribute to lockdowns and closures born of the pandemic along with their growing use by professional athletes).

In the early 2000s, more than 22 million Americans said they rollerbladed. Just three years ago, that number had dropped to only 5 million, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. So in 2020, when users decided they were again ready for the product, in some cases, the product wasn’t available or was on backorder. The bottom line was that usage trends may not have been tracked closely enough and the product wasn’t always ready for users.

Inline skates are obviously different than software, but there are lessons here for software product managers that you’re likely already well aware of. Users and the environments they work in can be unpredictable. And much of the time, delivering what they want, when they want it, can feel like guesswork.

But here’s the thing. There are always indicators, however subtle, that point to shifts in users’ needs and desires that can inform your product roadmap. This was even true with rollerblades. The sport never really fell from grace in many parts of the world as it did in the United States and the ease of connection enabled by social media allowed excellent rollerbladers across the globe to showcase their skills and reinvigorate the shared rollerblading passion of the late 90s. Iconic brands started creating new models two years ago, influential publications began writing about them and long before the pandemic hit, the second-hand sporting goods store near where I live was having a hard time keeping pairs for kids in stock.

Really great product managers leverage a wide range of signals to build new features and functionality that users want and that will be ready for them when they want it. Software usage analytics is one tool to uncover the data signals that can help take the guesswork out of product management.

Software usage analytics provide insights that are used to improve user experience, prioritize feature enhancement, measure user adoption, track compliance and provide real-time user help. Gaining better insight into the computing environments (and even the geographic locations) your users are working in, and taking a deep-dive into features to gain insight into how they’re used and where they’re not working, are all crucial to developing features and a product roadmap that meets customers’ needs.

On an upcoming webinar, we’ll help you get rolling and map the different ways you can get started with software usage analytics to real life customer use cases. We’ll show how three different software vendors – Solibri, CNC Software (maker of MasterCam) and TechSmith (makers of Camtasia and Snagit) leveraged usage analytics to discover insights that have driven product enhancements for their customers. Learn how they’re answering questions in development that cut design time in half, help them turn out robust and relevant features and better seed the voice of the customer throughout the entire development process.

What do we mean by taking a crawl, walk and run approach to software usage analytics? Sign up for our webinar on Tuesday, July 21 at 11 a.m. CT and Wednesday July 22 at 4 p.m. CET to learn more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *