The role of the product manager is expanding due to the growing importance of data in decision making, an increased focus on customers and newer software-development methodologies. Digital product management is an emerging discipline that extends the scope of the traditional product manager’s role. According to a recent Gartner report, technology firms that fail to embrace digital product management will be at strong risk of disruption within the next two years.
“Regardless of whether you are a software, hardware, solution or service provider, digital product management is an inescapable new competency,” said Lars Van Dam, distinguished research vice president at Gartner. “Organizations that embrace and invest in digital product management will be better equipped to capitalize on market shifts and disruptions.”
Digital product management embraces design principles and quantitative insights to inform product vision, direction, trade-off decisions and differentiating customer experiences.
Product management disconnected from business strategy
Today, two out of three product management initiatives are disconnected from business strategy. Recent Gartner research reveals that only 16 percent of product managers use their defined product strategy to inform key decisions. Most organizations over invest in product management execution at the expense of strategy, design and quantitative analysis.
“The majority of CEOs expect to change business models in the next two years, and by 2024, 80 percent of IT organizations will undergo radical restructuring to their missions as they embrace product-centric operating models,” said Van Dam. “This will require product managers to fundamentally rethink how value is perceived, created and consumed.”
By 2023, 35 percent of product management teams will acknowledge having implemented digital product management and the five critical digital capabilities, from less than 2 percent in 2019.
“Innovation is no longer about product development creating the product that the rest of the organization supports in the market,” said Van Dam. “Instead, many departments and factors contribute to the creation and delivery of the product every day.”
Another report by McKinsey released in 2017 recommends that organizations begin with a thorough assessment of their current product-management capabilities in six areas: a grounding in customer experience, market orientation, business acumen, technical skills, soft skills, and the presence of organizational enablers.
Focusing on the role of product manager in the digital era, the article authors mentioned, “With software development becoming a strategic priority for all companies in today’s digital era. Product managers should play a pivotal role, serving as the connection between software-engineering teams and all other parts of the organization.”