Mason Swenson: Our plan to bring data resilience to the world

Mason Swenson headshot

Connecting to CrashPlan Users to be a Guiding Light in Product Vision

In the realm of software solutions, where innovation and progress are constant companions, having a clear product vision is akin to having a guiding light in the fog. My role at CrashPlan is to ensure that our data backup and recovery products not only meet market demands but also resonate with the needs of our users. To achieve this, I work hard to get a deep understanding of our market and at the same time form a deep connection with our users. Through meetings, analyzing product usage, reading support feedback and more, I lay out a product roadmap for CrashPlan that doesn’t just handle today’s needs for our users, it builds for what they will need for the data resilience of tomorrow.

While I have been managing CrashPlan endpoint backup as a product for years, now I am looking at it as head of product for the whole company. That means we will be doing exciting things to expand its value to our current users and ones yet to come. I thought this might be a good time to lay out the strategies that I will use to stay in tune with your needs and drive both yours and CrashPlan’s success.

Define a Clear Product Vision

At its core, a product vision is the manifestation of a grand idea that encompasses the essence of what problem your solution can solve. A strong product vision acts as a north star, providing a sense of direction and purpose. It sets the forward looking foundation for innovation, aligns stakeholders, and helps everyone understand the value your software aims to deliver.

By defining a clear and compelling product vision, I will create a framework that supports the identification and fulfillment of user needs. To create this compelling product vision, I fully accept that we will need to take a leap of faith together that will transcend the mundane and embrace the extraordinary.

Since CrashPlan became its own company last year, I have been thinking a lot about that leap of faith and where it might take us. I want to keep us true to our foundation of being a secure, straightforward scalable solution for data backup and recovery, and now I am looking to a future that may include new forms of backup beyond the endpoint, new products that bring data resilience to the enterprise, and new offerings that will appeal to enterprises, businesses, MSPs, technology partners, consumers, and others who understand CrashPlan’s value proposition.

Listening Beyond Words

This unifying purpose must be rooted in providing for your needs. User needs are rarely conveyed explicitly. To truly understand what you need, I have to listen beyond the surface, tapping into your subtle cues and adjacent pains. I have to immerse myself in your experience and see CrashPlan from your perspective.

By actively listening to you and empathizing with your challenges, I will uncover the underlying motivations behind your actions to gain valuable insights that are often nestled deep within the realms of desires, frustrations, and aspirations. That means I will be meeting with customers directly, working with our marketing team to form a customer advisory board, and collaborating with others inside CrashPlan like our technical services and support teams, sales team, and partner team to gain every insight possible. I will do all of this to inform CrashPlan’s product vision for data resilience.

Leverage User Research

To that end of listening beyond words, my team and I will engage in as much user research as possible. User research is a powerful tool for gaining a deeper understanding of your needs. It involves systematic investigations, such as user observations, interviews, and behavioral analysis. By leveraging user research methodologies and engaging with diverse user groups, our team will collect data-driven insights to explore new markets and inform the development of future advances in data backup and recovery.

By embracing multiple sizes of companies in various verticals, we will unlock a rich tapestry of insights that enable us to uncover unmet needs that can drive innovation. We’ll use this knowledge to refine CrashPlan’s endpoint backup product and discover new ones we need to add to our portfolio.

Embrace Constraints and Iterative Processes

In today’s rapidly changing landscape, the pursuit of fulfilling user needs, creativity and constraints is an intricate tango. While creativity fuels innovation, constraints provide the necessary structure to channel that creativity effectively. 

To navigate this delicate balance, my team and I will adopt a philosophical mindset that views constraints as opportunities for growth. We’ll embrace the art of trade-offs, weaving together elegant solutions that address user needs while respecting that they have needs beyond data backup and recovery including fiscal responsibility, other technology demands, and their own business mission, processes, and goals.

We will continue to iterate our successes in endpoint backup solutions and creatively expand our reach to ensure we are agile in both how we develop and how we provide value to you.

The TL;DR of My Product Vision for CrashPlan

CrashPlan’s data backup and recovery solution is more than 15 years old with more than 900,000 users around the globe. Those users are consumers backing up desktop computers at home, folks from 7 of the 8 Ivy League schools, small businesses, MSPs, and large enterprises with tens of thousands of endpoints to protect, among others. Its value is well-known and still growing.

CrashPlan the company is just now a year-old and just getting started on its mission to bring data resilience to the world.  We are establishing a guiding light for our product roadmap that is innovative and data-driven.

My team and I are going to find balance between who we were and who we are yet to be. And, we’ll do it by listening to you.