Be the disruptor or get disrupted. Whichever side you’re on, you have to ensure that your business not only survives but thrives. Market disruptions rarely happen out of the blue, the signs are always there. It won’t come as a surprise if you are cued to the latest trends. To tackle the constant disruptions head-on, whether business or technology, product management is the answer. With its customer-centric approach, product management is the key to stability during uncertain times.
Business Disruptions – More frequent than ever
Disruptions have become even more commonplace, two key factors responsible for this are globalization and technological advancements. The rise of emerging economies, such as India and China; spread of digital technology; increasing challenges because of globalization; and in some nations, social upheaval which has had a domino effect on their business, economy, society are some of the constant disruptions faced by businesses.1 According to research report by Accenture, there was more than a 30% increase in disruption levels between 2011 and 2018, both in the Consumer Goods, Services, and Retail sectors.2
Industry disruptions need to be thought of as a persistent condition, not a short-lived explosion.3 Whether they are societal, business, or technology related, organizations that have agile teams at their disposal are better equipped to handle them. To have a competitive advantage, organizations should focus on building resilience and adapting to the rapidly evolving external environment. Here is where product management comes in. Gartner defines it as, “The process of conceiving, defining, delivering, monitoring and refining products in, and withdrawing products from, a market in order to maximize business results.”4
Image credit: Martin Eriksson, 2011 5
Competitive Advantage through Product Management
Product management is having one eye on the market and the other on the pulse of the customers. Whereas, product managers are like magicians, who are constantly reinventing the wheel. They have the knowledge and technical abilities to constantly innovate and are in tune with customers’ needs to avoid being irrelevant in the market.
Having a broad and in-depth understanding of a product’s life cycle ensures it doesn’t become obsolete, because of the constant market disruptions. Product managers are interdisciplinary specialists that understand the design, engineering, sales, customer success, marketing, operations, finance, legal, etc., of a product. Creating and streamlining product road-maps, collating and analyzing customer feedback, collaborating with development teams, communicating effectively between various verticals, etc, are part of a product manager’s process. To optimize tasks and products, product managers rely on platforms like Asana, BaseCamp, Meetnotes, Trello, etc. These will help in managing, streamlining, and simplifying workflows. Moreover, according to the Product Management Trends and Benchmarks Report 2020, company profits can increase by 34.2% by a fully optimized product manager.6
Being in touch with what customers actually want, will ensure customer satisfaction despite the disruptions. Product managers rely heavily on data to mitigate and adapt to disruptions. Product management accounts for extreme ownership of the customer’s end-to-end experience. This highly data-driven field is customer-centric. The pandemic has significantly changed consumer behaviour.7 In the pre-COVID world, organizations had clear demand signals and trusted buying behaviors and patterns. Now, despite the changes, one thing is guaranteed – Customers will constantly want a newer, faster, and cheaper product, which is easy to use. Through agile development, design thinking, and trial and learning approaches, product managers are able to rise to the various market challenges.8
Product Management Culture is the Way Forward
Product management is a highly iterative process that has tight feedback loops, which is used to make comprehensive decisions for the next generation of products. It is collaborative, strategic, and interdisciplinary. With this comes a variety of insights on market dynamics, customer needs, new technologies, etc. Processes are innovated and offerings are delivered through designing, developing, and executing product road-maps.
Although many midsize enterprises don’t have the resources to implement a product management approach, a hybrid delivery model will be the way forward. As the product management approach has the foresight to define product road-maps, companies will find it more valuable to engage in long-term goals. By looking for continuous improvements that are driven by customer needs, market requirements, and competitor analysis, led by cross-functional teams that are focused on business outcomes. These agile teams will fill specific needs of key functions with shared resources.9
Product management takes a holistic approach that propels the product and/or solution forward and transforms disruptions to opportunities along the way. At HashedIn, we are building on our technical expertise and consulting acumen, to solve business problems through a product management mindset. We’ve built resilience by ensuring our PMs have the empathy and prowess to understand, define, and prioritize and to provide solutions to a gamut of market challenges.