Product Managers in the Age of Digital Transformation

By Andy Sio
March 8, 2018

The world of technology is changing. Thanks to the rise of new innovations in the marketplace, the growing importance of data, and the changing interactions between customers and brands, product managers are beginning to rethink the way support the modern brand.

For years, companies have regarded product managers to be the essential factor in many business functions, from engineering and designing to marketing and customer success. After all, your product manager doesn’t just influence the decisions made about which products you build, but also how those items are launched in your portfolio.

Today, in the shift to digital, there’s more for the product manager to consider than ever before, and this is prompting a shift in company mindsets.

Addressing the Shift to Digital

If you have anything to do with the technology world, then you’ve probably heard the word “transformation” being used frequently in the marketplace. The crowded industry and the ever-complex needs of consumers are forcing companies to innovate more rapidly than we used to. There’s be an overwhelming move towards the “agile” methodology, as brands attempt to maintain value in the eyes of fickle target consumers.

So, where does the product manager fit into this new roadmap?

In simple terms, your product manager is at the heart of your business innovation. These are the experts who have the clearest view of the feasibility, desirability, and viability of an idea, and they’re also the professionals steering the process of innovation forward.

Your Product Manager Knows Where You Need to Go

Business strategy in the age of digital transformation isn’t just about making the right changes at the right time. Transformation is an ongoing journey that’s inspired by a deep understanding of the target customer, and a thorough knowledge of the market at hand. Product managers, perhaps more than anyone else in a business team, know how to convert your leads into paying customers. They can see the value in ideas, sometimes before you ever build a prototype of your new offering.

At the same time, as changes occur faster than ever, forcing organizations to be agiler in the way they think and work,product managers are often some of the first people to embrace and support new methodologies. They can perform a SWOT analysis that highlight where the opportunities and threats are in the marketplace and provide a complete insight into the size of the opportunity available in their idea.

If running a successful business is about building a powerful roadmap for the future, then your product manager is the person with their eyes on the prize.

Choosing a Product Manager with the Right Mindset

According to experts like the McKinsey group, the age of digital transformation has pushed product managers into adopting a different framework for their development strategy. Your product experts are becoming “mini CEOs” that are capable of driving leadership and growth by sharing their insights on how your customers make purchases, and what you need to do to achieve better consumer experiences. So, how can you identify a product manager who can become a leader for your business?

1. They Know How to Act in An Agile World

As mentioned above, because product managers understand the needs of your customers and the changing trends of the marketplace, they’re uniquely positioned to respond to the challenges of agility. While your product leader might be available to plan long-term strategies or roadmaps for the future of your portfolio, they’ll also be thinking of unique ways that you can change and adapt to the industry evolutions that are taking place right now.

2. They’re Not Afraid of Complexity

As consumers become more demanding, it makes sense that the digital transformation era would lead to the requirement for bigger, better products from companies of all shapes and sizes. For your product manager to drive your company ahead of the competition, they need to know how to respond to complexity in the marketplace and take advantage of the latest tools.

Some of the best product managers show their leadership skills by working alongside their teams with visual reports and simple collaborative tools, that offer a quick solution to complex product management problems.

3. They Can Make Data-Informed Decisions

Finally, we’re now living in a world where if your company doesn’t own its data, then it’s data owns it. In other words, if you want to make powerful decisions on the behalf of your organization, you need to get down to the nuts and bolts of how everything works.

The average business is sitting on a goldmine of internal and external information that can be used to make incredible product decisions. Because product managers are used to interpreting this type of information, they can be your first point of translation, bridging the gap between the brand and its audience.

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