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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Evolution and Future of Product Management

We humans are interesting and so are our dreams. On one hand we aim for perfection - try to match precision of machine and on other hand we with help of Artificial Intelligence, design machines to match humans. Evolution and Future of Product Management is inspired by this philosophy of humans & machines.

In ancient world construction was considered as an Art, which later on was discovered as science and now a technology (for eg. Building Technology, drawing cartoons). This is something what I refer here as stages of evolution. A human skill that start as Art and on application of logic becomes science and with help of Technic and simulations soon becomes a technology.

Rich Mironov wrote 'Art of Product Management' and I could search enough paper and course on product management on web which makes it more logical role than ever. From my understanding, Product Management activities are now more logical and conclusive than what it was 10 years back when I was first introduced to the concept of Product Management. Product Management today has done successful transformation from Art to Science and has certainly evolved and matured a lot. Use of Agile methodology and tools is just one more example to get convinced on this point of evolution.

The next phase of evolution will be Product Management Technology wherein we would have thousands of tools and Technic to simulate and judge outcome of a specific product management function, not much different from simulations used in large engineering projects today. This is where we will believe how difficult life would have been for Product Managers in late 90s and early 2000s. Exactly the way we try and appreciate life style of any ancient civilization today. The simulation tools of product management will be so powerful that using demographic, technology and market data, VP Product Management will be able to craft out hundreds of products with millions of features with ROI calculation within few minutes. Simulation tool will also be used to prioritize features, bug scrubs, competitive analysis, managing backlogs and many other tasks that Product Managers spend large time today.

So what next after that? - maturity will grow further and just like it happened with machines, Product Management tools will be injected by Artificial Intelligence. With advent of A.I. in crucial business role, large corporate houses will define and device their next generation product / service with accurate features and user experience in no time, success of which will exceed far beyond any product story we know today.

But will all these help exceeding customer expectation and beat competition? I doubt, because customer too get mature and so does their understanding, expectation and demand. So will be the case with competition who tool would be using similar simulations tools. Struggle to beat customer expectation continues through all these four stages of evolution cycle. It is always wise for a product manager to get convinced that their is lot more to do to meet customer expectation and beat competition, forget exceeding expectation.

Demanding customers and catching competition will call for further innovations and improvements in A.I. Technic, at this nirvana stage, researchers will give inject near perfect human touch to A.I. Technic and A.I. in Product Management will get flavor of Art (maybe with help of Rich Mironov's 'Art of Product Management').  Evolution that started with Art, and traversed through various phases of Science, Technology and A.I. will attain nirvana on reaching back to Art but this time will be A.I. Art.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Product Managers in India

I was meeting this whole bunch of product managers last Sunday at India Product Managers Association annual event at IIMB campus. Each of them doing something different from rest but mostly from IT, ITES kind of background. Just wondering why we don't see PMs from non IT background.

Well, whatever - it was good to learn few things which was evident from what I observed during the talks / Q&A, breaks and discussions;
  1. Product Managers in India value what they do & are happy about their choice of profession
  2. West and West coast no more attract them, they plan to build their career in India
  3. They understand that the PM role has evolved & will continue evolve as Industry matures
  4. Few but not many see need to have Product Management certification
  5. Good lot of them were from start-up background, I guess about 30-35% of 130
  6. They shy away from networking - or even saying Hi.
  7. People who network most are those who are selling training programs or from start-ups
  8. They are good leaders with amazing thoughts but do not participate in contest (6 of 130)
  9. "Future is bright" - most of us are very positive about next 5 years
  10. Believe that they as community will drive the next phase India Product story
Good to see so many people actively participating to build a much needed eco-system for Products and Product companies in India. Thanks and congratulations to organizers for initiating and successfully completing one year of IPMA.