Product-Led Growth in ITOps Puts SREs in the Driver’s Seat
In this Q&A, OpsRamp product manager Jay Menon explains what product-led growth is and how its use in the ITOps space will benefit SREs. All cross-functional teams – design, sales, customer success, marketing, engineering, and product management – must be focused on the sole goal: to improve the end user’s life.
OpsRamp recently launched a free trial offering that gives SREs access to the company’s cloud monitoring services for 14 days, delivering metrics across Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, Kubernetes and more in as little as 20 minutes. The new offering is part of a broader product-led growth initiative at OpsRamp.
In this Q&A, OpsRamp product manager Jay Menon explains what product-led growth is and how its use in the ITOps space will benefit SREs.
Jay Menon: Product-led growth (PLG) is a business methodology in which the product is the main vehicle for customer acquisition, conversion, and expansion. It is much more than just a product management initiative; the entire business or organization must understand that the product will be the main mechanism for scaling the business.
All cross-functional teams – design, sales, customer success, marketing, engineering, and product management – must be focused on the sole goal: to improve the end user’s life.
This is a 360-degree shift from the traditional sales-led or marketing-led models, in which sales teams convey the narrative developed by marketing teams to drive growth, communicating to potential customers how the product can provide a useful service to them.
Unlike the sales-led growth model, which leverages a top-down selling strategy targeted at key decision-makers and executives, PLG leverages bottom-up selling, in which the organization offers a scaled down try-before-you-buy version of the product that users can experiment with. The users who try and like the product will then work up the totem pole to convince their executive team that the product will benefit their organization. The try-before-you-buy concept allows organizations to show users why they need their product, rather than telling them.
JAXenter: How did PLG come to be?
Jay Menon: As we entered the Information Age in the mid-20th century, technology innovators were focused on computer microminiaturization. This led to inventions such as the laptop and smartphone, which placed thousands of megahertz of processing power in the pockets of millions of people around the world. With technology and information so easily-accessible, people naturally became much more tech-savvy. Not only did this raise user expectations over how powerful products should be, but many people preferred to communicate with systems over people. There was a significant change in consumer behavior as many customers chose to educate themselves on the tools that they bought.
B2C organizations, such as Netflix, Spotify, and Pinterest, were well-aware of this change in human preference and behavior and quickly adopted product-led strategies by offering a free trial or freemium services. B2B organizations took longer to adapt to this new GTM strategy, in part due to the length and complexity of their traditional sales cycles. However, in the past five to 10 years, we’ve seen a massive increase in product-led businesses at an enterprise level, such as at Slack, Atlassian, and Dropbox.
JAXenter: What does PLG mean for SREs?
Jay Menon: In order to pursue a product-led business model, vendors will have to fundamentally change the way they think about products and sell those products to their customers. SREs, as the end users of a large spectrum of tools, will be the target persona for organizations in the IT operations management space.
Products in this space will have to revolve around three core pillars:
- Self Service
- Minimizing Time to Value
The outcome of vendors executing to these pillars will be a better overall user experience for SREs. What will that look like? For starters, SREs can expect a try-before-you-buy experience. There are two main methods to create this experience: free trial and freemium. Free trials are considered to be time-limited and strive to show users how the vendor’s product can benefit them. Freemium products are feature-limited and allow users to utilize basic features for an unlimited period of time, but charge for upgrades to the full set of capabilities. Both methods allow organizations to get their product in the hands of their users in the hope of converting prospects to PQLs to customers.
If a vendor executes PLG successfully, the SRE can expect more products and tools that are easy to set up and consume, with a user-friendly interface and high-performance. SREs will be in the driver’s seat as the sentiments they share about vendors in forums, blogs and word-of-mouth will carry much more weight in this try-before-you-buy world. KPIs such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) will be crucial in determining a company’s success.
A successful PLG strategy creates “stickiness” with the customer. If an SRE gets immediate value from using an ITOps tool, the SRE won’t want to give that up once the free trial ends. The satisfied SRE then becomes the vendor’s advocate within the organization, bringing IT executives’ attention to a product that could potentially solve many more problems for the company.
JAXenter: Can you give us some final thoughts on the PLG topic?
Jay Menon: Product-led growth strategies put the end user front and center of the sales process, bypassing purchasing departments and the executive suite to get the technology in the hands of the people who actually use it.
In the enterprise IT space, this is done through free trials and freemium offerings. SREs that take advantage of these offers will get a trial service that’s easy to set up and consume. They’ll also have a chance to shape the future development and delivery of these services as vendors will by necessity need to be more responsive to their feedback. If a product works and delivers fast results and a quality user experience, the vendor is responsive to the SRE, the SRE can then become an advocate for the vendor at the customer organization. The vendor then gets a chance to form a broader and more formal relationship with the SRE’s company and solve more problems for them.