Amazon Alexa International Research Program
Amazon.com mid 2018 - present
The Leadership Opportunity:
The Business: Amazon Alexa is experiencing an inflection point regarding the international reach of their voice assistant products. Strategic plans oscillate in response to global forces which steer the focus between launching products in the product suite in new markets and improving the products currently being sold in existing markets.
The Product: The process of building a voice assistant in a new language involves speech and language modeling as well as an understanding of technology habits and culture in order to sell the appropriate form factors and deliver the most useful feature sets to customers. The development resources required to supply all features available for US customers in all new markets would not be realistic for any company, and therefore the organization needs data to support feature prioritization for each new market.
The Leadership Need: International regional product Directors and launch managers needed a repeatable and scalable research program put into place for both pre- and post-launch efforts, as they come into focus throughout the year. They interface with a large, matrixed organization of feature teams and needed tested research instruments that supported them with data for any of those interactions. The goal is to scale the research function for these regional teams and embed research in each region along with voice design.
Organization Structure - Strategic Research Approach for Scale
1 A highly matrixed organization and many dotted lines
Determining a way to build influence and move departmental goals forward.
The charter for this role is centered around the development of a research program and strategy that will best support the complexities of delivering voice assistant products globally. Applying research to this complex domain and highly matrixed org structure presents special challenges in order to maximize the likelihood of positive impact.
2 Strategic Research Approach for Scale
Crafting an approach to research that offers something for everyone.
I have spent several months streamlining the playbook for research that supports planned international expansions into new markets. Internal collaboration around what stakeholders wanted to learn allowed me to determine the methods by which we could get the data.
The resulting approach has three research streams: market research to establish a definition for the 'addressable market' in each country, survey work for statistically significant response volume on questions requiring measures, and home visits to determine cultural influences for feature planning and prioritization (see the screenshot of the program's Confluence page).
Ongoing efforts include a stronger focus on a post-launch research action plan and the establishment of a Research Ops role to support the myriad administrative needs around research.
© 2019 by Peter Roessler.