Sound Check is a product concept designed to elevate audio management for a diverse range of users, including remote professionals, content creators, and beginners. Its aim is to ensure clear and effective communication by providing a means to assess and improve vocal clarity and quality before engaging in virtual communication (virtual meetings, presentations, live sessions, etc.). This concept addresses a vital aspect of digital communication, offering a solution to a common yet often neglected challenge in the realm of virtual interactions.
How might we provide remote professionals and content creators with an intuitive and efficient tool to evaluate and enhance their audio quality before live sessions or meetings?
Over the past three years, there has been a significant increase in both remote work and digital content creation. According to a report by Goldman Sachs, approximately 20-25% of U.S. workers are working from home at least part of the work week, a substantial rise from the pre-pandemic average of just 2.6%. In the field of digital content creation, Market Research Future (MRFR) forecasts impressive growth, with the market expected to expand from USD 173.2 billion to USD 282.3 billion by 2032. Additionally, a survey by Beezy, involving 800 employees across various job levels and departments, revealed that 54% of the respondents say they are attending more meetings virtually than they are in person. This trend towards virtual communication, which is becoming increasingly prevalent year over year, highlights a critical aspect of our digital interactions: the need for effective audio communication.
While recent trends may indicate that effective audio is a necessary component for digital communication, my research indicates that clear and concise audio may not be a decisive factor for users. In a survey I conducted ranging from diverse sectors such as Finance, Design, IT, Recruiting, and Medicine, it was found that 60% of the 11 respondents experience challenges with how they are heard during online interactions. Yet, among this group, an overwhelming 100% stated they are not looking for any tools or methods to improve the quality of their voice. As I looked to understand from the user’s perspective how they view this area of digital communication, 66.7% of all respondents felt that their solutions were perfectly acceptable. I conducted two user interviews, where it boiled down to acceptance of current methods. To quote one of the interviewees “I did a good portion of remote learning with teachers who were not tech savvy, and they managed to get usable sound from their laptop microphones”, I find that while audio may not be of the highest quality, it is found to be acceptable.
While users are aware of the shortcomings in audio quality, they generally consider these issues tolerable. This trend highlights a simple truth: as long as the audio quality is 'good enough', users typically won't pursue further enhancements or improvements in audio quality.
Landing on the Solution
Based on user feedback, Sound Check is likely to be limited to a relatively small audience. In my research into various software and hardware options available for audio enhancement, there is a significant challenge in understanding how to accomplish this as many recommendations center on the use of tools such as equalizers, noise gates, and compressors. This can be quite daunting and complex for beginners to use effectively. It would require specialized knowledge. Recognizing this, there may be an opportunity in developing an educational website specifically tailored to beginners. This approach could be a great way of identifying a receptive user-base that could drive creation of a user-friendly tool. A small dedicated community can be a powerful foundation to build upon.
Moving forward, my primary focus will be on conducting in-depth research to identify potential niche markets within the audio enhancement field. Current findings suggest a limited interest in the broader market, emphasizing the need to discover a specific user group that would be drawn to a product like Sound Check. Success in this field will likely depend on pinpointing and engaging this target audience effectively.
Product Manager Learnings:
- Understanding the core problem is critical. Effective problem statements require deep comprehension beyond just identifying issues. This phase is not about jumping to solutions but about fully understanding the problem to create a product that truly resonates with users.
- User needs are central to a product's success. Utilizing surveys and interviews, I gained insights into capturing and interpreting user voices. I have learned how a product's success is deeply connected to how well it meets and responds to a user’s pain points.