19 Aug 2020
Product Management 2.0: The Evolving Role of Product Managers in 2020
Judelyn Gomes
#Business | 5 min read
Product Management 2.0: The Evolving Role of Product Managers in 2020
Judelyn Gomes

In continuation of our blog series on product management, in this blog, we will throw light on how the roles and functions of product managers have changed over time. The world is continually evolving, and so are organizational structures. Although companies are emphasizing a lot on digital revolution and customer experience, changes in their internal framework are also clearly visible. Most importantly, businesses are focusing on the long-term success that depends solely on satiating customers and the implementation of a product roadmap to stay at the top of their game. And who can ensure achieving this with utmost conviction? – Product managers. Mckinsey defines them as, “The glue that binds the many functions that touch a product—engineering, design, customer success, sales, marketing, operations, finance, legal, and more.“1


But are you aware that their roles have significantly changed in recent years? They were earlier driven to ideate a product and take it forward for a hassle-free launch, but now things are different.


2020: The Golden Age of Product Management


Current statistics say product management roles in the United States have augmented by a striking 32%.2 2020 is undoubtedly the golden era of this role, owing to relentless competition, fast-growing technology markets, ever-increasing customer expectations, and the growing demands from a data-driven world.  The age of digital transformation has amplified customer demands, which has led product managers to strive harder to cater and deliver excellent customer experiences and services. Thus, in the highly competitive world, making use of both quantitative and qualitative data in the product building process is of paramount importance. Here comes the role of product managers who make the fullest use of data in the product-building process, from collection to understanding and incorporation.


Product Manager’s Role Transformation


Once limited only as tech leads, UI/UX designers, or project managers, today, product managers are more than what meets the eye. Of late, they have been playing a huge role in discovering what users need, figuring out what to build, rallying the team around the definite roadmap, and championing the process as well. Product managers today not only leverage their skills towards the company’s overall product but equally work towards leaving an impact on an organization’s development and strategies.  Their involvement with the company’s growth and core policies have transformed them from being mere departmental heads or individual contributors into kingpins.
With increasing importance given to excellent customer service and experience, organizations are striving to stay a step ahead when it comes to bringing new changes to their structures. This is how the evolved version of the product manager’s role has come into existence, and now they are assigned more responsibilities to act towards building a more robust brand vision. According to statistics, over the last few years, the demand for senior-level PMs increased by 51% and  5x more compared to other roles.3


The changing role of product management4


Key Functions of Product Managers 

In this data-driven digital age, a product manager dons many hats. He  brings together multi-functional teams, maintains a balance among a variety of decisions, and guarantees the orientation of diverse challenges of a company. Here are some of the key responsibilities of a product manager: 


    • Exceptional communication skills for maneuvering a product strategy
      Having excellent communication skills to steer ahead the product strategy is not just writing emails or actively listening and scheduling meetings. To be a leader and act like one, product managers effectively participate in supervising the strategy with the help of a strong team. This includes analyzing the company’s objectives and having a proposition to build a good plan of action.


    • Understanding the market
      Product managers are connecting with current and potential customers to comprehend the target market, customer needs, and what competitors have on their plates. Being the market’s spokesperson makes product managers better leaders.


    • Back their ideas with facts
      Earlier, the role of the PMs used to be confined to digging out facts or planning a strategy. But today, they use these facts to back up their ideas to move forward with the plan of action. This is a credible way to work with the senior stakeholders, as they combine their creativity with data for a better road map.


    • Harnessing product management tools and resources
      “Detailed research on G2 Crowd for product management tools shows 93 results in December 2019.”5 This proves that in the current period, product leaders have moved on from spreadsheets and few apps to utilizing more tools and resources to demonstrate clear product strategies, collect customer insights and work towards a central vision.


Today’s PMs think and act like mini CEOs

It has become quite evident that product managers of today not only think, but also act like CEOs with agility. Changes in consumer behaviors, developmental methodologies of organizations, and tech or data modifications have made PMs emerge as mini CEOs. Data has become an integral part of product design, and PMs have naturally taken up the broader role here, working closely with various teams.  They work on multiple areas ranging from technology to business, with a specific focus on customers. Also, not to forget their contribution towards giving meaningful suggestions to boards, apart from feeding factual information to senior management, they’ve been seamlessly banking on opportunities and solving their problems with a more practical approach. 





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