There are lots of them, many of them (the majority??) are 'out there', floating around in space: oddly-shaped, unloved, cold and alone. The ones that we can see are pointing towards us.
Once in a while, a requirement will ignite into life, perhaps it gently bumps into other similar requirements and they coalesce together and starts to gravitate towards Product Management & Engineering - these are long term trends
OR it gets knocked out of its static orbit and accelerates at speed towards the organisation (eg as a result of some action by a competitor or a positive reaction from a key customer after years of talking about it)
OR perhaps it become super-charged (eg demanded by influential customer or CEO after a conversation with a key investor / board member / conference / brain wave).
The outcome is that it comes spiralling in towards Product Management who scramble their X-wing fighter jets and head out towards the requirement to survey it. Is it cloud of confused strafing dust or some small pebbles without any real momentum?
OR a substantial requirement but it doesn't match our strategic intentions / won't impact our market(s) / unsuitable for our technologies - broadly an opportunity that's not suitable for us. These sail on passed us and can be classed as a 'near miss'.
If, as product managers, if we have nothing better do, might toy with these near misses, entertain them, enticing a beta customer or two by asking for their requirements, provide pricing and implementation plans, perhaps even get as far as a contract. And then side-step the requirement and allow it to slam into a competitor and make a mess of their sales plans, product roadmap, operational plan and account management and customer support.
I have done this once - I wish I could say intentionally - and months and month later, at a conference, I was chatting to a competitor and learnt how said customer had wasted months and months of pre-sale / sales / executive time dealing with said customer, before it all went puff in a cloud of smoke. Gleefully, I shared with my competitor that we spotted it as bad business when it was on the edge of solar system and made sure that it did no damage as it sailed on through.
Some requirements become direct hits - they will need nudging and steering (targeted comms eg pertinent case studies) and / the application of powerful magnetic forces (aka tenacious sales / implementation / account teams). Some will need feeding with a string of breadcrumbs that lead in your direction (aka MarComms, social media activity, continuous marketing activity, enhancing brand presence).
Some are bolts out of the blue: a perfect cohesion of some good technology plus a powerful gravitational market pull. Clearly, these are the ones to pay attention to. Some immediate questions - just to guy check that it is worth spending tooo much time on the idea
- What are the resources needed to capitalise on it?
- Does it fit into our portfolio - should it?
- How big is the market for the solution? And can we validate this assessment this quickly?