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Research Infused Product Management Is Powering New Levels of Innovation

  • 4 min read

Combining leading research with the evolving principles of agile development is changing the game. In an era where market dynamics shift quickly, the field of product management is undergoing an essential and significant change that companies should embrace.

By Simon Harrison
Analyst and Client Executive Partner

Simon is an industry analyst who has authored over 30 Gartner Magic Quadrant notes as lead and with colleagues. He’s written important research as the Chief of Research advisor for Gartner. He continues to provide deep research and insights as an Executive Partner for Actionary clients and the industry..

Product Management is at the forefront of business strategy, merging artistic design and thinking with what seems like a dark art of meeting the intricate demands of modern businesses and consumers. Insights from top research firms are now guiding product managers through an ever more challenging landscape, heavily impacted by sudden progress in artificial intelligence.

Agility Is One Part

The original principles and importance of product management basics have all but dissipated in the wake of agile development. In an ironic twist, the agile methodology, once heralded as the savior of product development, has been misused. It often provides a free pass to bypass meticulous planning, leading to constant feature slippage and products hitting the market half-baked. The industry is now witnessing a course correction, merging agility with industry foresight to ensure products are not just quickly developed but are right for the market.

Product roadmaps can no longer afford to be feature benefits lists dressed up in corporate jargon, which is what most quarterly business review product updates look like in an agile world. To inspire a world of buyers in a sea of sameness, product roadmaps are becoming narratives that read like an epic journey of innovation and growth; not just what a product will be, but how it will revolutionize markets and introduce paradigm shifts as a repeatable strategy.

Autonomous Ownership or Autonomous Ownership

Akin to the high-stakes world of Wall Street, product managers are being held to a standard as rigorous as that of big sales target owners. The mantra is simple yet revolutionary: deliver successful products or step aside. The yang to this ying is that product managers are re-establishing themselves as autonomous leaders. A “three strikes and you’re out” policy will do that to someone who’s inspired to succeed. And it’s injecting a dose of adrenaline into product management, making it as exciting as it is critical.

Of course, a product manager is the very definition of a professional who doesn’t work alone. A symphony of collaboration across departments, each playing a crucial role, is up-leveling. Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Development—all departments—are now signing off on a unified vision, based on a more holistic strategy, ensuring the product that hits the market is a masterpiece of collective effort

The Shaping Products Saga

In the realm of Software as a Service (SaaS), in particular, where a company is trying to retain customers who are “trying before they buy,” the customer feedback loop has become more accessible, tangible, and usable. This helps solve the original problem of innovating for what customers “think” they want versus what makes sense. Industry insight is accelerating the understanding of what “good” looks like for both customers and PMs.

A treasure trove of industry insights and a feedback loop, often real-time, allows products to be refined to near perfection before they make their grand debut. With guidance from thought leaders in research, the embrace of visionary roadmaps, the judicious application of agile, and a new culture of accountability and collaboration, the future of product management is exciting—not the word normally associated with a role that’s often described as a “thankless task”. This is not just a story of business evolution; it’s a saga of how products will shape our world in the years to come

The Author

Simon is a thought leading analyst and $multi-billion global company c suite executive, who’s a geek at heart. He thrives on inspiring audiences and helping companies to succeed.