When I ask clients, “Why do you continue to work with your security vendor?”, the answer I get most often is “I believe in its vision for the product.” A vendor’s product vision is its point of view on the biggest challenges to the industry and a tool that security pros can use to identify if a vendor “gets it.” A vendor’s product vision tells you:
- What the vendor thinks the biggest problems are that security pros face.
- How the vendor thinks existing approaches have failed.
- How the vendor thinks these problems should be addressed and how it’s different.
A product vision can be powerful and transformational when done right and used to the fullest or boring and useless when done poorly. One example of a poor product vision I saw quite often in The Forrester Wave™: Endpoint Detection And Response Providers, Q2 2022 is: “Our vision is to deliver the best extended detection and response (XDR) platform on the market.”
However, when used well, a product vision is the guiding hand behind the product strategy. It leads product teams to identify, prioritize, and implement features that align to the core of what the vendor stands for and what it sees as customer needs. It helps maintain focus in a world of potential product features, adjacent markets, fresh buzzwords, new competitors, and other factors.
Consider the following five qualities when evaluating a product vision — it should be:
- Centered on the customer. Few things are worse than a vendor that only wants to talk about itself. Ultimately, products are made to serve customers, and a strong product vision must be focused on legitimate customer challenges and priorities. Ask yourself, “How keyed in is the vendor to the problems we face every day?”
- Infused with the DNA of the company. Companies are made because founders recognize and fill a gap in a market. A strong product vision is a revisiting and realignment to the core values and broader mission of a company. It must address customer needs in a way others don’t. Ask yourself, “Why is the vendor uniquely capable of delivering on this vision?”
- Based on what is in the vendor’s control. A strong product vision is within the control of the vendor. It is not a go-to-market strategy, nor is it a business outcome. It does not rely on others perceiving it as the best in the market but instead focuses on what the vendor can deliver for customers. Ask yourself, “Can the vendor accomplish this with the product team it has?”
- Realistic to deliver on. A product vision is not a hope or a dream; it is a tool to direct execution. A strong product vision looks to execute over a maximum timespan of five to 10 years. The time frame for delivery matters because a lot can change over the course of five years, and the product vision should evolve because of it. Ask yourself, “How far ahead is the vendor looking?”
- Driving the product. A product vision without planned enhancements to back it up is empty air. A strong product vision is used throughout the company to influence planned enhancements, go-to-market strategy, and other functions. Ask yourself, “How is the vendor implementing this vision?”
I always include product vision in my Wave criteria because understanding how a strong product vision drives product enhancements feeds into the next five years of the offering. Don’t let this crucial insight into the vendor slip by when evaluating your next security tool.
Want to learn more about the product vision of endpoint detection and response (EDR), XDR, or security analytics vendors? Schedule an inquiry with me.