Unless you have been living in Silicon Valley and have participated to the software product revolution of the past decade (the famous “Software is eating the world” by Marc Andreesen in 2011),
You probably have no idea about what product management is all about in the software industry. Even today, in many companies, product managers are confused for user experience designers, technology leads, or even more erroneously, project managers. At best, we see team acknowledging product managers as “product owners” in the agile sense, and as such their main deliverable being the product backlog.
In 2019 and as we’re entering a new decade, we see a different picture emerging – digital product managers are one of the hottest and fastest growing roles in business, and product enthusiasts are eager to excel in their field. We’re entering the “Golden Age” of Product Management.
As a matter of fact, in the past few years, product management roles have increased steadily in both demand and popularity in software technology development – so much so that it outpaces the average increase in demand for other roles in the US by a factor of 5.
But why is product management so important today in 2019? And why are senior product leaders so desperately needed? Let’s take a look at a few technology-driven changes that are happening today across almost all industries.
1. The technology market is moving at the speed of light
As an example, it took 80 years for the telephone to reach 100 million users, it took 20 years for the mobile phone to reach the same mark, it took 5 years for Facebook to reach 100 million users and it took 2 years for Instagram to reach the same number of users.
In other words, today, new entrants can enter the market and immediately reach millions of users and revenue potentially in months – yes, the new scale is months, not centuries – and it’s up to modern organizations to keep up.
Here’s what this means: If you snooze on the quality of your product experience – you will most likely lose – and super fast.
2. Digital Transformation
Your customers increasingly have a digital life, whether it’s communicating with your grandkids on snapchat or ordering from Amazon and as a result, to keep up with increasing customer demands in the age of digital transformation, it is today absolutely critical for companies to deliver excellent digital experiences that align with their existing products and services.
At first pass, this looks very easy – but in practice and in the real world, creating a seamless experience connecting the online and offline is absolutely and exceedingly difficult.
Go ask big names like GE, Procter and Gamble, Lego and even Nike, all of whom have majorly failed their digital transformation efforts. In the case of GE, it literally tanked the company.
With this in mind, organizations are increasingly turning to qualified product professionals to oversee the digital arm of the business and help succeed in overcoming the challenging of Digital Transformation.
3. Rising customer expectations
There is no doubt that today we need to develop a deep understanding of our customers and know them better than family – in an ever hyper competitive climate, we, as a result, need to deliver more and more sophisticated products that meet their needs and convince almost instantly. As soon as your competition comes up with superior features and/or a better experience (it’s not an “if” today, it’s a “when”) or if you have not fostered stronger bonds with your user community, don’t count on them to be loyal to you … HipChat was awesome until Slack came up, remember?
4. An increasingly data-driven world
In 2019, companies would be silly to ignore data when it comes to making product decisions and competing in markets where customers are not only very much information driven but also (and as a corollary) saturated with information.
Product data today includes both qualitative data user research, notes from sales calls, user-submitted feature requests, and market/competitive analysis and other inputs that can affect the trajectory of your product and business) and quantitative data (analytics collected on how people are using your products so you can make iterative improvements).
A dedicated role to face modern challenges head-on
Product managers are the professionals who are best-equipped to face the challenges unique to today. That’s why modern organizations are hiring more product professionals who can deeply understand users, collect and process data, set product vision and strategy, manage product growth and evangelize product within the company.
Welcome to the golden age of product management!
Let me know what you think!
DM me @philippemora on IG and Twitter
My name's phil mora and I blog about the things I love: fitness, hacking work, tech and anything holistic.
Head of Digital Product
thinker, doer, designer, coder, leader