Product and Engineering

3 Things to Prioritize in Every Product Release

Product management at a high growth startup is a high stakes, high rewards role. This is especially true at a place like ThoughtSpot where the engineering team has the horsepower to deliver 3-5x the work of a typical engineering team. We have a small team of 55 across engineering and QA that ships one major release every quarter.

Release planning is as much an art as it is a science. Each release is a finely orchestrated dance between your wish list of items from the roadmap, requests from customers, technical debt that engineering wants to pay down, and bug fixes in the product. At the end of the day, the hardest decision is choosing what NOT to do. So how do you decide?

Strengthen your differentiators

Our vision is to deliver Human-Scale Analytics - with a goal of reaching 20 Million users by the year 2020. It requires an ambitious product that includes the entire data pipeline from self-service data prep to smart data discovery. The technology stack behind this spans from CentOS and Linux kernel optimizations, to Angular and cool visualization frameworks. We’re only 2% complete, so our roadmap has an ever growing list of features that we want to bring to market. With each release, we try to ensure that at least some fraction of our efforts go towards building these differentiating features that help us stay ahead in the market.  

One big focus for us in our latest release was making our search more intuitive. We added more fuzzy matching capabilities so now search queries such as “near”, “sounds like”, “similar to”, and “spells like”, will give you a list of matches based on the approximate term you had in mind. We already support synonyms (user defined or semantic matches) in the product—together these provide a much more effective way for a user to find exactly what they are looking for.  

Another search related initiative that we shipped this release is something you have to experience to fully appreciate: faster response times.  We pride ourselves on providing sub-second query performance, even over billions of rows of data. In this release we spent a lot of time cutting down our latency, which we measure in milliseconds, down by a factor of 2-3x.

Delight your customers

Almost half of our customers have made repeat purchases of our product, and that typically means adding more capacity for more use cases. One of the reasons they feel so confident in the direction of the company is how responsive we are to their new feature requests. It’s great to see how we can help a customer accomplish something new, something they couldn’t do before--all within a few months. This is always an important part of our release prioritization.

In this release, we answered a customer request for creating pivot tables. Now you can create pivot tables and search through them. This combination is something our customers have been looking forward to, and we’re excited to give them those capabilities right from within the search bar.  

We also overhauled the maps experience within ThoughtSpot—now you can see county and zip code level information in maps at a much higher resolution than we had before. We’re pretty excited about how beautiful the maps are, and how impactful these visualizations can be for users.  

Maps in ThoughtSpot 3.5

 

Obsess over the user experience

An analytics product with a visual interface and non-technical user focused is a product and design team’s dream. We’re trying to get 20 million users to use our product by 2020 and there’s no way that will happen without amazingly intuitive design. An interface as easy to use as search has to be matched with a visualization interface that is beautiful, intuitive and appealing. We’ve been continuously improving on that front and this release is a huge step forward. The most visible change you will see is how we’ve completely redone our UI. A lot of time was spent making our charts, chart colors, and visualizations more engaging.

ThoughtSpot 3.0 vs 3.5

For us, this is ongoing work that’s never done. The interface you see and interact with is the primary experience you have with the entire product stack, and with every release we keep making it better.

Finally, as part of this release we’ve made our help content publicly searchable through Google. We’re here to help wherever and whenever you need it!

When these elements come together—especially for the biggest release we’ve shipped yet—it’s an amazing experience! We’re well into our next release cycle and are working on some really cool stuff for our 4.0 release. Can’t wait to share that with all of you again in a couple of months.

×