I stop working for a moment and listen to the cadence of fingers on keyboards, each keystroke uncertain; complimentary and even orchestral. The noise of men interacting with machines is nothing new to the industrial landscape of Chicago, where Belly’s office is nestled on the river, near the harbors and railways that have powered this metropolis for decades. I spent a considerable amount of time at my last position in the Bay Area, known worldwide for being world’s foremost hotbed for the development, growth, and innovation of game-changing technology. Chicago is not the Bay Area, which is something that has become abundantly clear during my first 6 months in this city. While the oracles of Silicon Valley don’t reside in Chicago, I believe that a different kind of innovation, one that is grounded in consistent execution, galvanized by data, one built on informed decisions can thrive here.
I work as a Data Scientist at Belly, straddling our engineering, marketing, and product functions. My job involves rethinking the way these functions work on a day-to-day basis. One of the most difficult problems rapidly-growing tech startups face is escaping the frantic, executional culture that is imperative to early success. The reality is that chaos has to turn into structure at a mercurial rate, without impeding the growth of the company, in order for businesses to thrive at scale. Skilled product leadership and talented engineers are necessary for building a first-class product, but even with those assets, many companies are unable to build products that stick. When each decision is infused with data and armed with statistical certainty, the chances of being successful are greatly heightened.
I plan to outline the specifics of our analytical product management processes, data technology, and marketing infrastructure in future blog posts; however, I can safely say that we are committed to using cutting-edge tools that, if successful, will be replicated by organizations looking to drive engineering cycles based on quantitative product management principles in the future. Belly’s tremendous back-end and infrastructure teams have provided the necessary resources to begin growing and implementing these processes, and we have a cohesive and ambitious vision for how to make future improvements.
While I admit that the team is new to this doctrine, Belly has seen a compelling internal confederation around the conceptual outline and initial results. I firmly believe that our metrics-driven engineering dashboards and calculated but substantial product improvements can outpace the competition and, as the business of technology becomes less rogue and more quantitative, Belly will be seen as a pioneer of this type of regimented product development. Great products can be the output of prodigious foresight or visionary product direction, but my job is to manufacture those rare materials, in an algorithmic and incremental way, to aid in the continuance of Belly’s growth into the world-standard for loyalty programs.