Daniel Elizalde, is an Internet of Things (IoT) expert with over 17 years of experience as a product leader, consultant, and software engineer. He is the founder of the TechProductManagement blog, and the creator of the IoT Decision Framework, a comprehensive method for IoT product management & strategy. Daniel developed and taught his first IoT Product Management course at Stanford Continuing Studies. After overwhelmingly positive feedback from students, and requests for an online version from all over the world, he developed The IoT Product Manager Certificate Program.
Daniel’s diverse background includes working at Fortune 500 companies and growth-stage start-ups, as well as product companies and services companies.
So Daniel, tell us about your favorite product and the problem it solves.
My favorite product is the Tesla Model S. My area of expertise is in IoT (internet-of-things) product management and the Model S is a very well-executed IoT product. With the Model S, we’re talking about a product that is connected to the cloud but is also an awesome car.
What delights you about the Tesla Model S? What does it do well?
Tesla delights me by solving a really important problem which is transitioning the auto industry off of fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. It’s also a fast car that drives really well, making you forget you’re even in an electric car. The Model S is aligned with consumer market desires while still focused on a very important social cause.
It’s interesting – Other manufacturers have competed by building products that were too futuristic and lacked features that drivers appreciate. The Model S is a car that you actually want to drive. Tesla went the other way saying “I’m going to sell you this very nice car that just happens to be electric.” Of course, they also implemented cutting edge technology like self-driving capabilities and ‘over the air’ updates which provide value to the customer.
Product Managers love feedback. What feedback would you give to Elon Musk?
Well, that’s tough. I don’t want to be the guy quoted as giving Elon Musk advice (laughs). I think – in general – Product Managers need to step it up in on the strategic side. Too often, Product Managers spend their time with engineering trying to build something instead of thinking of the strategic landscape. I would like to see Tesla focus more on execution and speed to market rather than perfecting each model. By doing this they can achieve greater market adoption.
As a product person, what elements of the Model S have you incorporated into your work?
There are really two things I’d say here. For one, Tesla has amazing clarity of vision. Their sights have been set on the adoption of renewables from the beginning. I’ve taught some of their employees in my courses and they all are very aware of what the company is striving for. Their people can tell you exactly what the company’s mission is. At my company, I always make sure my team knows what we’re doing now and what we’re looking to do in the future. I think it is the job of the product manager to make sure the rest of the company is aligned with the vision.
The second element is focus. It is very common for companies to chase the new shiny object. Tesla is different. They’ve had an overarching goal from the beginning and have yet to stray from that goal. That’s very impressive and is reflected in their products.
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