Bringing a new product to market is a complex task. There are countless steps involved in the product life cycle, from initial brainstorming and ideation through various prototype iterations, financial forecasts, and the development of marketing messaging. Product development also requires input and collaboration from countless cross-disciplinary teams. And to keep all of these teams aligned toward the same goal, companies use the processes and tools of product management.
Every business prioritizes product management because it leverages strategy to oversee the creation of products and their future release. A product or service must be planned, developed, researched, forecasted, priced, launched, marketed, and managed during this process. While managing the product at all phases throughout the product lifecycle, product managers are accountable for ensuring that a product corresponds to its intended audience's requirements and fulfills the business plan's objectives.
The field of product management is anything but static. As companies experience evolving needs, the tools associated with product management adapt and change. So, what should product designers and managers expect from this field in the coming weeks and months? Consider five product management trends that will be impactful throughout 2023 and beyond.
One of the most significant trends in 2023 is the shift toward a more customer-centric mindset. This is no small thing. For years, the overarching paradigm in product management has been to serve the company's needs first and foremost, building new products that meet corporate needs.
However, this more insular approach has yet to cut it in today's increasingly competitive landscape. Today’s product management teams must take a more customer-driven approach. This shift in mindset has big implications for product management. Now, a crucial part of that process is reviewing data points (including surveys, polls, and past sales data) to determine the end user's needs, goals, values, and pain points and to consider all this data when fine-tuning the product. In many ways, product management is becoming increasingly influenced by design thinking, which is all about empathizing with the end user.
Additionally, the rise of customer-centric product management means a heightened emphasis on developing products that are accessible, easy to learn, easy to use, and easy to maintain, all while providing clear value to the customer.
As data and analytics become more readily available. Every professional field is experiencing something of an information renaissance. Product management is no different.
This ties in with our previous point: To maintain a genuinely customer-centric approach, product managers must be ready to mine significant volumes of data concerning customer experience, needs, and pain points. Access to the right kinds of data and correctly interpreting it can significantly impact product development. For instance, knowing what features are popular with customers and which ones tend to go overlooked or unused can be relevant for determining which features to include in a new product and figuring out how to market a product most effectively.
So what does this mean in practical terms? For product managers, it means that to maintain a competitive edge, it's vital to have analytic dashboards in place, providing up-to-date metrics to guide product development. It also means there is a greater necessity than ever for different departments to share their data insights in a spirit of true collaboration. That brings us to the next big trend.
The third product management trend worth mentioning is the rising role of collaboration.
Put, product management is no longer a siloed function. It's not a discipline that can stand apart from all other fields or offer value when it isn't in dialogue with other stakeholders.
To succeed, product managers need to collaborate with various participants, including engineers, designers, marketers, and sales representatives. This collaboration is essential for ensuring that products are developed that meet the needs of all stakeholders and that are successful in the marketplace. Ultimately, this type of collaboration is crucial for ensuring that products align with broader business goals. To keep motivating their staff, some product managers, for instance, go the extra mile by sharing productivity quotes with the teams. Additionally, welcoming multiple cross-disciplinary perspectives into the product management process is the best way to ensure that the product is as good as possible.
Again, there are some practical implications here. To facilitate meaningful collaboration, product management teams must implement software solutions providing a single source of truth for all stakeholders. Product roadmap tools can be invaluable. Thus it's encouraged to look for team collaboration software like Troop Messenger that allows Zapier integration so you can utilize your existing business management apps and other tools.
Anyone who has ever worked in product management knows the hunger for innovation is real. Customers and internal stakeholders want to see each product iterated, improved upon, and eventually replaced with something even better. Innovation is simply part of the job.
That's truer now than ever, simply because the marketplace is changing at such a rapid pace. Today's product managers must focus on continuous innovation in today's ever-shifting competitive landscape, constantly looking for ways to improve products and add new features. It also means being prepared to pivot quickly when necessary, responding to consumer preference changes, competitors' innovations, or fluctuations in the broader economic climate.
Of course, the drive for continuous innovation has been around for a while. In fact, it's one of the hallmarks of kaizen, lean manufacturing, and six sigma, all of which have been incredibly influential business philosophies over the past several decades. The challenge before product managers is to internalize these philosophies and to put into place practice infrastructures to guide their quest for improvement.
Finally, the user experience has become increasingly central to product management. To stay competitive, product managers must focus on creating products that are easy to use and provide a positive user experience. This means paying attention to the details, such as the product's design, the user interface, and the overall user flow.
Note that the focus on user experience isn't just about the product's technical development. It also involves creating effective user manuals. It means developing supportive media, like how-to videos, that can guide users through any issues they face. And it means anticipating the kinds of questions a user might ask about how the product works and answering them preemptively through sales and marketing activities. In other words, ensuring a good user experience involves product development, marketing, branding, and customer support.
This is another area where it’s pivotal for all parties involved to have a single source of truth, allowing for a collaborative approach toward improving the user experience. Product roadmap software provides an efficient solution.
These are just a few of the trends that are likely to have a significant impact on product management in 2023. By understanding these trends, product managers can position themselves for success in the future, remaining well-positioned to exploit new opportunities and maintain an edge over their competitors.
In addition to the trends mentioned above, here are a few other things that product managers should keep an eye on in 2023 and in the years to come:
By staying ahead of these trends, product managers can ensure their products succeed in the ever-changing marketplace and use the tools of product management as effectively as possible.
As for practical steps, there is much that product management teams can do even now to ensure their adaptability. For example, implementing custom analytic dashboards can be a critical way to embrace the data revolution and provide a more customer-centered and user-friendly approach. And investing in product roadmap tools can be a great way to facilitate unity and alignment, even across different departments or disciplines.
The bottom line for product management teams is that change is an inevitable part of the industry. Still, with vigilance and preparation, any product manager can remain at the vanguard, well-positioned to create products that connect with evolving consumer demands.
We hope that now you are well acquainted with product management trends. Remember that the above trends are tried and proven methods, so employ them accordingly. That said, product managers should also have an eagle view of the products to be well-versed in product development.