Looking behind the scenes of a product launch
Jörn Kruse, Global Product Manager for Building Automation, answering questions about his job
Today I have the pleasure of starting my day with an exciting interview with Jörn Kruse, Global Product Manager for Building Automation. This guy and his great team of product managers have taken care of every new product that has been launched over the previous years. Having the future in our minds, he plays an important role by writing the future of Building Automation solutions. I am excited to see what he has to say.
Jörn, could you describe your role a little bit: what are your daily tasks as Global Product Manager?
For me Product Management is more than only being the interface between the market and the company. To me it means being the one pushing the right innovation that suits perfectly the needs of the market. That in fact means you convince the right people in the company to invest into the right future products. In parallel you always keep an eye on future trends. During the whole project convincing people is a key success factor. In my daily work I am meeting with different kinds of people, who all have something in common: They are humans and have emotions. Talking to the R&D guys means being more realistic and technical, of course, but in addition making them feel enthusiastic about the new development. The sales guys in comparison are focused on their customers, they want to know why the customer absolutely needs that new product. They need a story they can tell that will thrill their customers. This is when the Marketing and Communication team gets involved. All those people are working on the same target: Getting the best out of the product launch. Working closely with all those kinds of people makes work very varied and this is actually what makes it so much fun!
Which trends do you personally see when it comes to Building Automation?
There are at least a thousand exciting trends to have a look at. One of them is the Internet of Things (IoT) in combination with cloud solutions. Building Automation products are becoming smaller but more powerful at the same time. Integrating those products into one system, which then directly talk to the cloud via an IP interface, makes, for example, commissioning processes easier. Let’s describe how that works with the help of a KNX device: The Logic Controller is a good example of this evolution. It has a standard KNX interface but also it has a LAN interface for communicating via the IP network. The webserver enables you to have access to the status of the device and you can integrate this device with other IP based solutions. The next step would be to integrate the Logic Controller into a complete cloud solution, which automates the whole building. From the cloud you will get access directly to products via any communication you may have inside the building e.g. IP-based solution, or i-bus® KNX line. Because in the world of IoT it is not only products that are talking to other products in the same building. There will also be an access from all over the world to easily monitor the status, data and maintenance needs of your building automation system.
Which skills do you think a product manager should have?
A good product manager to me is a person that is passionate, structured and motivational at the same time. He pushes the project in the right direction by motivating all people involved and gets them to meet all project deadlines. As such, a project can last over several months so being motivated is essential. Every team member plays an important role in the success of a product launch and needs to be treated differently, as they are all individuals. For me it is key that I am working side by side with the team. I am a person who likes to see things growing, that’s why I always play an active role in every product launch, not only delegating tasks.
Seems like you are impressed with your products, so what was the greatest activity you were a part of during preparation of a product launch?
The greatest activity I was involved in during a product launch was preparing a 3D animation video for the new Logic Controller. It was at a later stage in the development phase, as you can imagine, the closer the product launch comes, the more you get out of all these itsy-bitsy small things. The whole team feels proud about the great results. In this phase I was sitting together with the MarCom team. They really manage to change your view. This is something I like, because you get out of this deep technical view into the bright world of solutions for the customer. For the 3D animation video we had some creative brainstorming meetings, in which we thought about what kind of building suits best and what kind of applications are nice to highlight the benefits of this new product. Watch the video and find out what decisions we made.
Coming to an end of that interesting talk. You always have a smile on your face, so please let us know why you love your job?”
That’s true, actually, I really do love my job. I love dealing with people and I love creating things. Being a product manager combines those two aspects perfectly. You can develop an idea into a concept, into a business plan and then realize it together with other people. It’s an incredible feeling when you present a new product after two or three years of specifying, developing and all that stuff. At the launch date you can show it to the world as a team result. To be honest that is always the best part of the whole launch process, being proud, like you are proud of a newborn baby. It is really an emotional thing.