As a product manager, customer feedback is essential in developing our product. What we do well is nice to hear but what we don’t do well is what drives our thinking when determining what to put in each release. On a recent Pragmatic Marketing course I was introduced to the saying “As a product developer your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant.” This is something we’ve been saying to each other on the Mathcad team for the past few months. We have ideas about what we want to do with Mathcad, many good (and some bad, which get shot down pretty quickly) but ultimately the people who should be deciding what our product should do are the people who buy it and use it. It’s a waste of resources to put something in the product, even something that seems incredibly interesting to us, if it isn’t useful to our customers.
At the end of August I visited several customers on the west coast. I was joined by our regional application engineer for the area. Between us we presented both the power of Mathcad as a tool for each company’s particular use cases and the product roadmap – what’s coming in Prime 4.0, what we’re considering for Prime 5.0. There were lively discussions – as a product manager I understand and appreciate the enthusiasm that short and long term customers alike have for the product and do not take offense at constructive criticism. I need that criticism to refine the direction of the product so it’s paramount I get to hear it directly from the people who use it. We got some very good feedback from the visits, a lot of that focusing on plotting – an area which we’ll be adding to greatly with Prime 4.0 (as mentioned in previous blog posts). All the feedback we get is added to our extensive enhancement database and will be used to prioritize functionality for upcoming releases.
We also got to talk a little about our new, in development calculation server product, PTC Mathcad Gateway. Long time Mathcad users may remember a calculation server product that was discontinued many years ago. PTC Mathcad Gateway is a similar product that will offer the ability to distribute the power of Mathcad worksheets to anyone on any device while protecting the IP of the worksheets themselves. Those companies we talked to seemed excited about the deployment possibilities of such a product and as we get closer to release we’ll talk some more about what it can do here in the blog.