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The Importance of Listening When Developing a Product Roadmap

IP Strategy
Tags: Innovation Management, Portfolio Management

When it comes to product strategy and development at Anaqua, the key word is LISTEN. In developing the Anaqua 2022 roadmap for our AQX IP management platform, we listened to our customers, listened to the market, then we worked directly with our customers through two rounds of interviews, sharing and refining our thoughts with them, and listened again.


From this, we were able to develop a series of significant enhancements being introduced over the course of the year to the platform. These enhancements are in line with our customers' identified needs and priorities - both from an operational standpoint as well as a more strategic business perspective.


The product roadmap process at Anaqua is always iterative. Our clients and Client Working Groups are involved every step of the way and help to establish priorities, review prototypes, and more.  In developing the Anaqua roadmap for the next 18-months, we launched customer and market surveys, reaching out separately to senior IP professionals in corporations and law firms. We wanted to understand from IP professionals where they felt a software service provider could add the greatest value to their organizations in the short to mid-term.


Gathering this feedback helped us prioritize the most important and pressing capabilities to enhance or add to our IP management platform and where we should focus our R&D investment. As a result, the four main tracks for 2022 are:


1 - Docketing automation and PTO integration

2 - Attorney workspace - portfolio management

3 - Integration including budget management

4 - Innovation management


Survey findings highlight key priorities for IP professionals


Interestingly, the feedback we received from around 300 corporations and law firms was broadly similar. We heard that from an operational perspective, docketing automation and PTO integration are very important. Regarding docketing automation, it is critical still to build efficient and accurate verification processes, as bad data is the Achilles' heel of our industry. Further enhancements to system performance and workflow management were also high on the priority list.


From a strategic business view, attorney workspace - giving attorneys tools to make better informed decisions - ranked amongst the top priorities. As one attorney said: "I can't spend one hour per decision. I need to be able to differentiate between the 'no brainers' - where, with the right information, the decision is obvious - and the 'head scratchers', the complex decisions where you need to spend time and make sure you have the right data to make the best-informed decision."


The ability of software service providers to expand their offering through new functionality and services - whether internally developed or through acquisition - is seen as a major advantage. But it is important that the promised benefits are delivered quickly through fast integration. IP professionals want the different components to be brought together in a fully integrated offering so that attorneys and portfolio managers can access all the information and services they need in one place - helping make their lives easier. The quick and smooth integration of expanded capabilities is something we pride ourselves upon at Anaqua, and this is very evident in the development of AQX.


Corporate respondents cited innovation management - the ability to capture and drive innovation - as another business-critical requirement. Several corporate customers told us that, too often, their R&D groups innovate in a vacuum. They wanted to ensure that the inventors and R&D teams deliver innovation in areas that will directly support the broader business strategy and have the most beneficial impact on business performance.


This issue has been highlighted previously and led us to develop a new tool, the AQX® Innovation Management, which we've now configured to be the innovation capture engine of AQX. AQX Innovation Management enables a more strategic business approach to innovation and ensures that your inventors and R&D team don't innovate in a vacuum or silo, but against very specific business objectives.


For corporate respondents, better spend management was also an important requirement - accurately tracking where they are in terms both of spend against budget and cost forecasts against budget, and whether some tough decisions need to be made.


Looking specifically at law firm respondents, docketing automation, PTO integration, and attorney workspace were all priorities, as was email management.


Many of the survey findings reinforced the concept we introduced a few years ago around transforming IP into business success, which we built into the product strategy for AQX. We look at platform development both from an operational and strategic business dimension, from an IP-centric to a business-centric perspective. It's a trend that was also highlighted in the Hyperion MarketView™ Report 2020, which spoke of "a fundamental shift away from managing IP from a purely legal or asset-based perspective to a management focus on the impact of an organization's IP portfolio on the business, and vice versa".


Armed with the feedback from the 300 survey respondents, we set about developing priority product tracks for AQX for 2022. We directly interviewed some 40 clients to evaluate our initial thinking. Based on their input, we further refined the plans and conducted a second round of interviews with a larger number of client interviews (around 75) to validate each track.


Enhancements in these and other areas are being delivered through three new releases - 10.6 going live this spring, 10.7 launching mid-year, and 10.8 to be released at year-end.


Helping clients connect, collaborate, and innovate


AQX 10.6 is focused on helping our clients connect, collaborate, and innovate their IP management. This release includes Anaqua Connect™, which eliminates the need for double docketing; industry-leading Foreign Filing Service; and Global IP Estimator® that helps IP practitioners generate worldwide future-cost estimates for patents and trademarks. The release also provides deeper analytics and enhanced IP operations - including new fields in the Tasks section for improved docketing; and specific enhancements for managing pharma IP.


Details of further operational and business-focused enhancements planned for 10.7 and 10.8 will be provided in the coming months. Meanwhile, we will continue to engage with our clients and Client Working Groups throughout the development of each track and each release as part of our ongoing commitment to client collaboration.

At Anaqua, our customers are our number one priority. The process of developing Anaqua's roadmap demonstrates our focus is not only listening but hearing too - to provide customers with the enhanced solutions they need to do their jobs better and deliver greater value.


Vincent Brault, SVP, Product & Innovation, Marketing