Product People – Ada Tong

Product People in the News spotlights Ada Tong, the Product Director of Property Data Solutions at Domain.

Data, according to The Economist is the world’s most valuable resource, not oil.

So you can imagine that we were super excited to learn that one of our members was a Product Director of Data Products at an Australian company. We wanted to learn more about how this valuable resource is defined and managed.

Meet Ada Tong, the Product Director of Property Data Solutions at Domain – a leading property marketplace in Australia.

Tell me about the products that your team manages at Domain.

At Domain, our purpose is to inspire confidence in all of life’s property decisions. Data is a key way of doing this.

Our first product is a valuation product that provides a financial estimate for every property in Australia. The information is used by consumers on our portal. It's also used by banks for loan approval.

We also have a suite of research & analytics products that provide insights and trends on the property market – they help our customers make better decisions.

Is there a difference between data as a product versus data products?

I like to distinguish between data in the product, data as a product and the data about the product

Our valuation product is a good example of data in the product. Data is integrated as a part of the user journey for people using the Domain portal.

We also have data as a product. We generate lots of data at Domain and we think about opportunities for how that data may be useful to our customers. An example of that is our buyer demand indicator, generated off user behaviour on our portal. Here, we are using the data that we generate as a product to support other use cases.

The other component that sometimes gets lumped into the term “data product” is data about the product. For example, the use of Google Analytics (or similar tools) that capture and deliver data to help you, as the product manager, make product decisions.

Is managing data as a product, different from managing other types of products?

In many aspects, no – it is still product management – and the fundamentals of understanding customers, understanding business needs and pulling everything together to deliver a valuable product is still the same. However, I do think that there are specific challenges.

I think it can be a bit like technical product management. With technical product management, your customers are most likely “technical” people (engineers), and therefore to empathize with them effectively, you need to really get in the weeds. Having a “technical” background is a huge head-start.

There are different types of data products with different types of users. For example, for our bank valuation product, the users are statisticians inside banks who are using the data to integrate with their systems and workflows to use as part of the approval process. For this type of product, therefore, it’s important to understand statistics and systems to understand the user’s needs.

For data products where the user is a consumer or layperson, an ability to transform complexity into simplicity is super helpful. You need to be able to collaborate with data scientists and engineers and understand all the complexity of their world, but then, be able to translate that into something seamless and simple for the end user.

How do you approach making data as a product or data products at Domain?

We're on a journey. My belief is that it’s all about the people, putting together cohesive and effective cross-functional scrum teams with the right skills to form, storm and norm. We need data people, engineers, designers, and good product people.

And of course, focusing intensely on the user and customer.

What are some of the challenges your team experiences?

I’m relatively new to this role and we're very much at the start of our journey so we are going through classic challenges that all product teams face in the forming stages – what’s the most effective way to work together? How do we build the plane whilst we fly it?

And then, in general, prioritisation. Data is the new oil and everyone gets really excited about what we can turn data into. We need to be focusing more on what the most important customer problems are, and then letting that drive what falls in place behind that to deliver value.

A big thank you to Ada from the team at the Association of Product Professionals.

Be sure to reach out to us if you have an interesting story to share that will benefit all Product people or read last month's feature on Transitioning into Entrepreneurship from Product Management.

About the Author​

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