The Department of Product


Thursday, 17 November, 2022

A new voice assistant for building products, how Airtable makes roadmap updates at scale, a tool to help component governance, Disney+’s huge losses

Thursday, 17 November, 2022

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Hello product people,

If you struggle to use the correct prompts for Alexa or Siri, here’s a new use case to add to your voice assistant list: Github. Yes, that’s right, the code repository and editing platform is adding voice capabilities using the phrase ‘Hey Github’. Whilst the value of adding voice prompts may seem questionable to say the least, the company’s product leaders argue that there are genuine use cases, including asking Github to move lines of code or toggle ‘zen mode.’ The new feature is currently limited to VS Code only but may get a wider rollout should it prove popular. 

Another dev-centric tool that helps teams build products announcing new features this week is Retool. After launching back in 2017, Retool has made a name for itself by offering quick ways for teams to build internal tools that can be used by internal stakeholders. Now, the company has announced the release of a new feature it calls ‘Workflows’. The feature is designed to work almost like an enterprise level Zapier which connects data sources to allow users to automate workflows such as weekly metric reporting, incident tracking and managing customer subscriptions. You can check out a demo of it in action here.

But that’s not all – another product designed to help product teams on our radar this week is Supernova. Designed to bridge the gap between design and engineering, Supernova allows teams to improve what it calls ‘component governance’ by linking Figma designs to codebases.

Meanwhile, after outshining Netflix with impressive subscription numbers in recent months, Disney+’s high growth comes at a cost. The company reported an operating loss for its streaming segment of $1.47 billion for the quarter, an increase of around $800 million year on year. The company will launch its own ad-funded tier on December 8.

Finally, if you ever feel the urge to check how you look before diving into an important Zoom call, this new tool has you covered. 

Enjoy the rest of your week!

P.S. our 2 minute Product Survey on salary benchmarks, skill gaps and every day challenges product team members face is still open – contribute your experience here.



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Your product briefing


Podcast – Wayfair’s Senior PM chats PRDs, stakeholder feedback sessions and more

Vik Bharadwaj is a Senior Product Manager for Wayfair Mobile apps leading engagement and retention initiatives along with optimizing for conversion. Vik’s product stack includes: product review document, product review deck, software release notes. (Department of Product)



Newsletters worth reading – Stacked Marketer

Stacked Marketer delivers the breaking news, hacks, tips & tricks needed to dominate the entire digital marketing landscape 一 from native ads and SEO to Facebook, Google, TikTok & everywhere in between. And the best part? It’s free. Join the over 33K professionals reading Stacked Marketer daily. (Stacked Marketer)


New product launches – Microsoft launches preview of Supply Chain Centre

Microsoft Supply Chain Platform helps organizations maximize their existing supply chain investments with an open approach, bringing the best of Microsoft AI, collaboration, low code, security, and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications to a composable platform. As part of the new Microsoft Supply Chain Platform, we are also announcing the preview of Microsoft Supply Chain Center. The Supply Chain Center empowers customers to get started quickly with a ready-made “command center” that natively works with existing supply chain data and applications. (Microsoft Product Blog)


Tools – A potential successor to WordPress

According to the newest Jamstack report, WordPress market share continues to decrease and is currently at 37%. WordPress has yet to have an obvious successor, but Storyblok is a strong contender. Storyblok builds a bridge between content creators and developers – without forcing developers into a technology. 95,000+ teams from brands like Adidas, T-Mobile, and Netflix, already use Storyblok to scale their content operations. Watch the demo, or try it for free. (Sponsored)


Process – How Airtable’s product ops strategist makes roadmap updates at scale

As a founding member of Airtable’s product operations team, Zach Felsenstein helps bring new features to customers. But as the team has scaled, so have the number of updates, teams, and stakeholders to keep track of—and that growth has added a new level of complexity to the team’s operating model. One of the most challenging pieces of that puzzle is the product roadmap: keeping the team and their partners informed on what’s coming next. (Airtable product blog)


Dates for your diary


Design – How to elevate product quality

Quality and craft are not just words designers toss around when referring to some veneer of polish adorned on top of a product with superficial visual design tweaks and unnecessary, over-the-top animations. (Paul Stamatiou)


Governance and ethics – Inside 2 years of Meta’s Oversight board

By 2020, Facebook had set up the board as an independent trust with a $130 million grant. The company would pay up to 40 board members six-figure salaries for what was estimated to be 15 hours of work each week. A full-time staff would support the effort, like clerks for Supreme Court justices. A lengthy charter set the ground rules. (Wired)


New technologies 

Google unveils new research called Perpetual View Generation which can take a single image and turn it into a 3D flythrough path. Read the full research paper here.

Google's perpetual view generation

Tools – TocTic – a simple pomodoro productivity app

Toctic is a focus-time-blocking app that combines Pomodoro technique and the power of 40hz gamma sound to enhance focus. (Product Hunt)


New product features – YouTube launches live Q&A feature

YouTube is introducing a new “Live Q&A” feature that is designed to make it easier for creators to interact with viewers during live streams. When creators start a Q&A, the prompt will appear as a pinned message in the chat. Viewers can then submit their questions and creators can select one and pin it, so viewers know what the creator is responding to. (Techmeme)


UX – How to conduct a cognitive walkthrough workshop

A cognitive walkthrough is a technique used to evaluate the learnability of a system. Unlike user testing, it does not involve users (and, thus, it can be relatively cheap to implement). Like heuristic evaluations, expert reviews, and PURE evaluations, it relies on the expertise of a set of reviewers to assess the interface. (NN Group)


Other product news in brief

Featured jobs

A selection of the latest jobs posted on the Department of Product job board.


Senior Director of Product, Yahoo (US / remote)

Yahoo’s Media Platform Product team enables core media business capabilities across Yahoo verticals. 


Senior Product Manager, Etsy (US / remote)

Etsy is the global marketplace for unique and creative goods. We build, power, and evolve the tools and technologies that connect millions of entrepreneurs with millions of buyers around the world. 

All yours, all free. Enter your email to receive your briefing.

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