Trends of 2018 in Product Management

The Product Leadership Day, that was held on 22 March 2018 had brought in about 200 participants with 10 speakers. We had a wonderfully beautiful mix of product managers from tech start-ups, larger corporation and the public sectors. With product managers from such diverse background, sector and industries it had given us an interesting insight into how different all they are and what they are talking about in their companies.

Some of the buzzwords of the conference were Customization, Big Data Analytics, User Experience, Digitalization and many more. As previously mentioned these words were used very differently and were very industry and sector centric. Here are some of my takeaways from the conference.

The public sector in Sweden is moving forward into Digitalization. They are creating products that is both useful and will make the lives easier of both the employees and the customers. An example is Arbetsförmedlingen, which is the Swedish Employment Services that are moving full force into digitalization. For the readers who are in larger private organizations or tech start-ups, this might come across as a very delayed impact. Which is similar to what I saw at the conference too. Digitalization to these people was a decade ago, and now they are speaking of other ‘futuristic’ concepts. I think we should give public sectors such as Arbetsförmedlingen some slack for their speed and embrace the change they are finally embarking on.

Some words buzzing around in the private sector are things like Big Data Analytics, Transformation in the Innovation and Digital space. There are some assumptions that have been made about the private organizations. Such as, these organizations are adaptive in nature and not very conservative in the way they run their business. It is pretty obvious, it is the private sector that is efficiently storing their data that can be used in improving their processes and the user experience of the customers. Also, they have the financial ability to transform their organization efficiently so that every part is storing relevant data that can be used to churn out more profits and revenue!

Moreover, due to the heavy competition in the market, they have come to realize the importance of User Experience. How improving the user experience of the customer can instantaneously improve their sales! At the conference, some product managers such as Heather Kay and Karolina Wicksén Jackson-Ward who had a user experience background were sharing their experience as to how a decade ago they had to fight their way though to ensure that their projects were human-centred instead of technology-centred. And suddenly, these same people are ‘Wow’-ing user experience and involving it in every product that they are creating.

Amongst the start-ups – or innovation houses, a term I prefer – they use terminologies such as IOT/AI/VR and customization much more frequently. They are the smallest and have the capability of making a significant change that is later adopted by the private organizations. These small powerful innovation houses can later become unicorns such as Spotify, Uber, Space X, Airbnb and Xiaomi to name some. These companies have shaped the current horizons of how larger organizations work. The products that are being created are innovated or produced connected and customizable depending on their clients. Looking at the unicorns, you can already see they are preaching their talk. Spotify, Uber and Airbnb have created their products keeping their users.

And lastly, the ‘anti-agile’ movement. This isn’t a movement to stop using agile completely. But the old folks of product management are starting to see that the term Agile is now being tossed around because it sounds trendy. These folks would be people like Saeed who believe that Agile should be used currently, throughout the organization and not only have daily stand -ups, sprints and scrum. But to really incorporate Agile into the organization. (Do you think Agile will be beneficial for your product? Want to know how to incorporate Agile correctly in your organization? See this paper on Finding the Joy with Agile Product Management)

Product Leadership Day was an incredible day where I was thrown 1000 balls of information and probably only caught on to 50. Nevertheless, this experience was invaluable and I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet all types of Product Managers with their own special experience.

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About Sneha Barman

Background in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and Product Management. My professional roles have ranged from a design engineer, product development engineer and product manager where I primarily worked on commercial products to make it market ready. I am constantly curious and intrigued by technological advancements in all areas and the impact it has in the world and our lives. It’s a good era for me to be in!

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