The pursuit of innovation and product improvement with Kendrick Hair, Chief Product Officer at Fishbowl

How CPO, Kendrick Hair views innovation and product improvement

Jonny Parker
August 22, 2023

Kendrick Hair is the Chief Product Officer at Fishbowl. This was my first in depth conversation with Kendrick, and right out of the gate, I could feel the passion coming from him when talking about innovation, product, and customers. One of the first things he said to me during our chat was: 

 “There’s always a better way to do something. Even if what we’re doing is great, there’s an improvement that can be made.”  

The relentless pursuit of innovation and improvement of anything in life is required to see masterful results. When it comes to your product, it’s what is going to create brand loyalty, love, and long-term user engagement.  

This is why Kendrick champions innovation, improvement, and customer experience. Let’s jump into the interview and share those insights that we learned from him.  

What does product improvement look like to you?

 I like to approach everything as an iterative build. At Fishbowl, we want to take what we’ve got, take the good in it, and then build from that.  

Every cycle we go through, we start out with a hypothesis on what we believe the problem is, or what we have learned from our customers, and then we come up with the best solution to solve that.  

And lastly, once that product is out, the evaluation period begins.  

Was our hypothesis accurate? 

Do we need to pivot and build again?  

Ultimately, the customers know what their needs are better than any of us, so we focus on their feedback when looking at product improvement and innovation.  

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How important is product innovation and improvement today in SaaS companies and what are the consequences for not prioritizing them both?

It’s vital.  

It’s critical that we have constant improvement, due to the digital transformation the world has seen in the last few years.  

When you think about how the supply chain has been impacted by the global economy, innovation in the marketplace for manufacturing companies has been demanded. To match that demand, the improvement and innovation of our products have to be up to par.  

We must continually evolve to whatever the conditions may be in the marketplace. 

The world today is built on integrated platforms. So, connections into other systems are a must. Customers are looking for seamless and convenient options. That has to be satisfied to remain competitive and relevant.  

The flip side of that is, if you aren’t growing, you’re shrinking.  

You either win or lose.  

With that in mind, we are dedicated to servicing SMBs and everyday business owners with the tools they need to be successful in the marketplace. And that comes from constant product improvement and innovation.  

Can you take me through the process of what continuous product improvement looks like?

So, there are levels to this.  

On a quarterly basis, we take a strategic look at what’s the next thing on the horizon for us. And how does that impact our customers and our growth. Those strategic decisions inform us on what we’re going to invest our product and engineering resources in.  

On a two-week basis, we’re looking very tactically at what feature function is being delivered to our customer and why.  

Every week, every month we want to review and make sure we are headed in the right direction and meeting the needs of our customers.  

Everything we do is laser focused and purpose driven.  

I wanted to shift gears and ask one specific question that everyone wants to know… 

How do you authentically keep users engaged with the product?

The way we keep users engaged is by showing them value quickly.  

That time-to-value ratio can’t be understated. And a big part of that is getting the right data in.  

Inventory management, order management, and warehousing are complex business processes, and they’re at the core of what a product-based business does. There’s a little more continuity.  

It’s not like a Netflix account where I just drop out of the service.  

There’s more investment in it, and so, the stakes are higher.  

It’s important that we get customers engaged early to keep them on the system. And what that looks like is giving them value right out of the gate.  

We make sure that the product is working efficiently and working as designed, so our customers can get the full value out of our product.  

How does product improvement impact workflow efficiency for teams?

In the industry we are in, it comes down to clicks.  

How much do I have to put into the system to get the job done?  

So, if you think about this in terms of what’s happening in real life, in the warehouse, or on the production floor, they have a process just like we do. Workflow efficiency means meeting those workflows that are happening in real life. We want to provide functions and features that make their lives easier.  

Some of our customers have more complex processes and more steps that are necessary to get their products to market, so we have to make sure we are not overburdening both sides. We do that by providing a highly efficient product.  

How do you see Fishbowls product continue to evolve with the future of digital transformation over the next few years?

 We want to stay focused on whatever current market trends are and make strategic decisions about what to invest in next.  

We will continue to incorporate more analytics, intelligence, and AI into our platform to have a better learning model that will continue to provide value to our customers and, ultimately, solutions to whatever problems they are facing.  

I appreciate your time, Kendrick.