Jan 16, 2024
A Product Journey #6 with Christophe Frenet CPO at Botify
Cofounder @ Jimo
Hi Christophe. It's great to have you here. To kick things off, could you share a bit about your journey and what led you to become the CPO at Botify?
I've always liked growing businesses, especially in the tech world. I spent 20 years in various companies helping them grow their product function and build a bigger business. What truly excites me is challenging the status quo and figuring out how we disrupt the market. I've done that before in the publishing industry, I helped a tech publisher become number one in the US. A few years back, Botify approached me, and what struck me about them was their existing strengths in organic search optimization and their ambition to go beyond that. They were looking to seamlessly integrate analytics with automation, fundamentally transforming SEO practices. My prior experience as a Botify customer gave me firsthand insight into their potential. This, coupled with their vision, made the decision to join as their first CPO an easy one.
What's the Botify’s product approach?
Botify, at its core, is a SaaS product tailored for SEO teams. We primarily work with large enterprises, helping them enhance their visibility in search engine results, primarily Google. From its inception, Botify has been a technology-first company, founded by experts who possess a deep dual expertise in SEO and tech.
Our product team's DNA revolves around problem-solving. We have a keen focus on understanding our customers' challenges in-depth. This understanding translates into our product managers being deeply involved in every aspect of the product development cycle, from the initial discovery phase to final delivery. They work with a high degree of autonomy, but always with a clear understanding of the customer's world. This approach is what enables us to be genuinely effective in addressing the complex needs of our customers.
With the evolving complexity of the web and SEO strategies, how does Botify balance the dynamic needs of its clients and market with product development?
The web and organic search are indeed dynamic, with constant shifts and new developments, especially with the advent of AI. However, many fundamentals remain unchanged, such as the challenges faced by search engines in crawling and indexing the web. Despite the increasing complexity of web pages, the fundamental need for these pages to be found and indexed by search engines hasn't wavered.
We've maintained a focus on helping our clients ensure that search engines can effectively discover and index their most relevant pages. This challenge becomes even more significant for websites with hundreds of thousands or millions of pages. So, our approach has been to illuminate the entire indexing process for our clients, ensuring that search engines can access, crawl, and render their pages efficiently.
Looking forward, we've identified a crucial need to move beyond problem identification to solution implementation. Since joining in 2019, a significant part of our development has been in automating SEO processes. We have transitioned from analytics to a combination of analytics and AI-driven intelligence, leading to actionable automation. This evolution in our approach is what keeps us at the forefront of the SEO industry.
Can you talk about how you've structured and managed the product team to foster innovation and collaboration?
Each product manager at Botify is, in a sense, a 'full stack' manager, responsible for overseeing the entire lifecycle of a product, from identifying user problems to delivering the solutions. This comprehensive involvement is essential for fostering a deep understanding of our users' needs and translating them into effective solutions.
My role as CPO involves providing clarity and direction, both internally and externally. We have a clearly defined product strategy that is updated annually, in alignment with a multi-year vision. We identify the top three challenges our product team should address each year. This not only stimulates healthy debate but also helps us focus our efforts throughout the year.
We also believe in the power of the 'Product Trio' model in each of our squads, which includes a product manager, a designer, and a software engineer. I truly believe that this combination is crucial for scaling our deliverables and ensuring efficient solution delivery. Furthermore, we have an 'innovation' team, led by our co-founders, dedicated to experimenting with new ideas and pushing the boundaries of what's possible. A testament to their effectiveness is our rapid integration of GPT into Botify, a move that was implemented just a month after the ChatGPT API was released. The most successful of these innovations are then integrated into our broader product roadmap.
With AI and other market evolutions, what emerging trends do you see impacting product management in the SaaS industry?
The trend is towards delivering value faster, as companies are increasingly asked to do more with less. This creates a major push towards solutions that can deliver value faster. For example, a data analytics platform isn't enough anymore: it needs to power automation workflows that will impact the business. In martech and adtech, a lot has been automated in the last decade, but interestingly enough, that was yet to be true for organic search optimization. Botify is leading the change in SEO automation, and the customers who work with us are seeing the difference, with impact delivered in weeks, not months or years. For product teams, this forces all Product Managers to think more about business outcomes than feature outputs. Product managers must better understand their own business model and the one of their customers, and strive to deliver faster value.
Thank you, Christophe!