The Department of Product


Thursday, 01 December, 2022

A new tool for Slack summaries, AWS’ data-centric product launches, WhatsApp’s new productivity feature, How Spotify uses performance context cards

Thursday, 01 December, 2022

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Hello product people,

Despite being one of the most popular tools for product teams, trying to keep up to date with Slack conversations can be a job in itself. Now, a new product thinks it has the solution to Slack fatigue. Gist digests your Slack threads and generates a summary – or a gist – so that you can get up to speed with updates from your team quickly.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s annual AWS conference took place last week and for devops fanatics there was a lot to get excited about. Highlights worth noting for product teams include a new machine learning based data management service called DataZone and a data security product called Clean Roms. Designed to allow product-led orgs to better govern their data, DataZone gives data scientists, product managers and other non-engineers the ability to set up data catalogues and connect them to their data sources. Clean Rooms is designed to help protect companies from inadvertently sharing personally identifiable information (PII). 

Speaking of which, Meta found out the hard way what happens when data breaches do occur this week. Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner fined the company 265 million euros for its failure to prevent millions of Facebook users’ mobile phone numbers, emails and other personal data being scraped and published onto the wider internet. The pan-European regulator has now issued almost $1 billion in fines in only the last 18 months, proving that despite being one of the driest aspects of product development, data privacy remains a top concern – and priority – for modern product teams.

In other news, a new study by Stanford University shows that concerns about the introduction of mobile phones to children may not result in wellbeing problems later in life, after all. Stanford Medicine researchers studied a group of 250 children for five years and found no link between the ownership of a mobile phone, the age of acquiring a mobile phone and overall well being.

Finally, as we enter the month of December, many product teams have been counting down to the big day: the day where Spotify reveals its personalised Unwrapped Playlist. But if Unwrapped isn’t your thing, a new app is currently going viral with its alternative version of a similar Spotify-powered feature.

Enjoy the rest of your week!


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Your product briefing


Explainers – Natural language processing (NLP) – practical applications for product teams

We’ve been told that Natural Language Processing (NLP) will change the world for a long time now. Most of you will agree that it has certainly done so; be it Google Search, Translate or Amazon Alexa, as end users, we have been using NLP systems on a daily basis and have learnt to appreciate all the benefits they provide. (Department of Product)


New product features – WhatsApp releases message myself feature

WhatsApp has started rolling out a feature to let you chat with yourself. Sending messages to your own account can be a way to keep a piece of information easily accessible, right next to your other WhatsApp conversations. Called ‘Message Yourself’, the feature lets users send notes, reminders and shopping lists to themselves on WhatsApp. (Techcrunch)


Resources – OKR template examples

A series of OKRs templates and examples to inspire you and help you write your own quarterly plans. (Tability)


New product launches – Amazon announces Create with Alexa

Tools like DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion and Midjourney, which generate images based on a few lines of text, briefly set social media ablaze this year. But Amazon’s entry into the AI art world is a bit different. Create with Alexa lets children guide the creation of animated stories using a few kid-friendly prompts. (Engadget)


Design – How to use huge type on the web

Sometimes they’re combined with graphics, but most often they’re not. They’re so imposing that they often don’t need graphic sidekicks. They alone make the website stand out. Let’s take a look at a few more such examples and analyse them. (HeyDesigner)


Strategy – Bugs vs. Product Market Fit: How startups can build high quality products

Though it sounds basic, it can be incredibly difficult to tell whether there’s a product problem or a quality problem, because they both can look the same: users come in with a need for what you’re building, and maybe even a willingness to pay, then leave after trying out the product. (Jam Dev blog)


Case studies – How Intercom ensures the highest data privacy standards

As businesses grow and scale, they need to continue to earn and build on that trust in every way they can – but with rapidly expanding tech stacks, it’s not just their own company policies they need to monitor, it’s those of every company they partner with. (Intercom product blog)



Webinar – How to innovate with Jobs to Be Done Theory

When the product innovation process begins with ideas, the process is likely to fail. So, why not adopt a scientific approach to innovation? Join us on December 7th at 11 AM PST as Tony Ulwick, the inventor of Outcome-Driven Innovation® (ODI), will take you on an inspiring journey that will help you see the process of innovation through a new lens of Jobs to Be Done. (Sendbird ad)


Product audio design – YouTube launches a new startup audio sound

If you’ve fired up YouTube on your living room TV recently, you probably noticed the new sound and animation that plays right before your app starts up. Ever wondered how something like that gets created and where it comes from? Well, here’s a peek behind the sonic curtain.

Listen to the new sound and find out more here.


Process – How Spotify uses Performance Context Cards for design accessibility

If we only design for speedy devices, we also risk finding out late in the development process that our feature performs poorly on devices used in emerging markets — and at this point, it can be costly and painful to make significant changes. When designing for a global audience, we have to do better, which is why we developed Performance Context Cards and Performance Action Cards: tools for our teams (and yours) to use during certain stages of the product design process. (Spotify Design blog)


Other product news in brief

Upcoming product programs – admissions open now


Web Technologies for Product Managers (Jan 28th – 25th Feb, 2023)

Our 5 week intensive program is designed to help you understand the full stack so that you can speak to your stakeholders and engineering team with more confidence. You won’t be an engineer; you’ll be a professional with a deeper understanding of web technologies.

Instructor: Abhishek, former software engineer and Product Lead at Square

Availability: admissions open now


Register now


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

Product Briefing – July 27, 2023

Shopify’s $1600 meetings and Netflix’s ad-funded success
Plus: a tool to free your mind, how to use developer tools and a summer reading list

Product Briefing – July 20, 2023

Microsoft fights AI fatigue and Roblox’s vision for a new economy. Plus: a new tool for task automation, TikTok’s new music app and Google Docs gets a notebook

Product Briefing – July 13, 2023

Gmail and Stripe punish no shows and Twilio’s new API. Plus: YouTube gets screen locks, DeepMind’s CEO talks and a note taking ‘studio for your mind’

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