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What trends and shifts is consumer product management experiencing?

2 Answers
Jeff Chow
Jeff Chow
InVision CEO (former CPO)March 22

In the past, many successful consumer products could be successful by executing off of a single approach. You may have been an SEO driven org that was ok with an inferior UX but converted really well. You could be a high UX driven org where word of mouth spread based on the quality of the product, but the growth funnels may have been less optimized.  

Now the consumer expectations are so high and the competition of mindshare is so intense that you do have to stick the landing and adopt the full suite of approaches right out of the gate to drive consumer adoption. This includes a deeper blend of metrics based growth drivers, intuition based vision, ux forward customer centricity.  

What has stayed constant is not having to release all of the features at once, you can have a thoughtful simple product to market but the experience, critical user journeys and growth flywheels have to be really thought out.

Based on that some things that are happening within expectations of the Product Team

  • Organizations are embracing product as team of varying skillsets - no longer are there just generalists, but more of a focus on what a PM's particular strenghts are (are you data centric, ux centrc etc). And more importantly how do you complement each unique skillset with another PM such that the product org is well rounded. This is demanding some level of self awareness of PMs to assess where their passions and strengths are. (note: even strong generalists have a secret strength and passion!)
  • PM as pace setter and team builder. Thankfully we're moving away from Product as the all knowing decider of everything and instead focusing on the PM as a team builder and pace setter. Building great product is a team sport and everyone has to contribute their special skills to making the magic happen. PMs are being asked to really be adept at bringing people together, communicating clearly the problems to solve and fostering an environment of collaboration to solve those problems. The tension here is PMs are also pace setters so being able balance decisioning and fostering an inclusive collaborative environment is the true skill
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Neel Joshi
Neel Joshi
Google Group Product Manager, Google AssistantSeptember 1

Great question! This is a fun one and something I could spend a lot of time talking about. Let's pick a trend in a few different areas; Job role, Job market, Strategy, Industry trend, Consumer trend.

[Job role] Collaboration in a remote world

Communication is the most critical skill for PMs and the shift to a remote-inclusive world has made that skill more difficult. I've found collaboration to particularly challenging. There are a miriad of online tools at our disposal and PM needs to get to grips with them and incorporate them into the new way of working.

[Job market] Faster turnover

Much has been said about jumping between companies vs. becoming a domain expert and leveling up for the same company. No matter your view on it, you will be impacted by the faster staff churn than in previous times. I've found this to be especially true for PM. Strong documentation and clear visions and strategies will help set teams up for success despite staff turnover.

[Strategy] Big picture visions instead of feature factories

Fewer companies are operating under the old feature factory model. Users will appreciate new features hitting them on a regular basis, but even more compelling is when companies land big-picture visions. Apple has done a fantastic job of this over the past years. They launch cohesive visions each year which pull together features from various teams across their organization. It's an incredibly effective way to mobilize your workforce, but it's very hard to pull off at scale. 

[Industry trend] Personalization

Companies are quickly realizing that a single product won't work for everyone and the fastest way to an engaged audience is to tailor what you provide to them. This used to mean conducting marketing research and identifying your target audience to build for. While that is still important, machine learning has opened up the ability to hyper personalize your products to individuals. For example, in the smart home / ambient computing space that I work in, we know that every family behaves differently and we need to make sure our products flex to their needs.

[Consumer trend] New internet users changing how we build products

Over the next 5 to 10 years, a new generation of internet users will come online. These users will have an all-new baseline and appreciation for technology due to their exposure to it from early on in their lives. Thinking through interaction patterns, user education and willingnesss to learn will shift and companies are already bracing for what that will mean for their products. In the same vein, there are new users coming online in countries that are finding easier ways to connect to the internet.

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