13 Experts Share Their Thoughts on Top Product Management Trends for 2023
Product management is both exciting and challenging due to the diversity of skills required, the complexity of responsibilities, and the changing market demand.
As a result, the product management field is an ever-evolving domain where professionals and brands have to progressively modify their approach as per the latest trends to remain competitive and profitable.
In this article, let’s look at the top ten product management trends of 2023 and what experts think about them.
1. Product teams will automate more of their processes
Collecting customer feedback at regular intervals, assigning new bugs and issues to relevant team members, and generating performance reports are some of the time-consuming and tedious product management processes that are getting automated.
Such process automation is redefining the future of product management by allowing teams to gather, process, and draw insights from raw user data quickly and accurately.
Although many industries have already automated many of their processes, this trend in product management is expected to become more normalized in 2023.
But, will it affect career opportunities?
Fortunately, professionals assure aspiring product managers don’t need to worry about losing their jobs to algorithms. There are various actions and processes that require human intelligence Marcin Tandecki, Product Manager at AutoVerify explains:
“I would say the "human element" is and will remain a crucial aspect of Product Management, and I would struggle to envision how to automate or digitize this part of the PM role.”
He further explains by sharing an example of his typical workday:
“For example, I would say 50-80% of my typical day is spent in meetings talking to others, with the remainder being documentation, discovery, customer interviews, etc. All of that would be difficult to automate.”
2. Implementation of design thinking throughout product management
One of the emerging trends in product management in the last few years is the increased focus on customer satisfaction. Teams are being encouraged to adopt design thinking approaches to come up with creative solutions for their customers.
Design thinking is a non-linear and iterative process where product managers (or designers) put themselves in their customer’s shoes while generating feature ideas for upcoming sprints.
It allows PMs to become more outcome-based as they focus more on problems faced by their customers rather than just performance metrics.
Putting this into practice often requires product managers to sit with a pen and paper to scribble out their thoughts and soft-test their ideas. Nikunj Thakkar, Senior Product Manager at Whatfix explains the importance of pen and paper in the future of product management:
“Pen and paper are key parts of a Product Manager’s life and it’ll still remain the same for the foreseeable future. Taking notes using pen and paper and doodling helps in staying focused, understanding complex information, and grasping concepts better.”
“I think yes. I use pen & paper in my day-to-day life to pen down ideas, thoughts, notes, and basic wireframing.”
3. Higher emphasis on data-backed decision-making
In a fast-moving world, it is crucial to get things right on the first try. Product teams are now keen on collecting more kinds of user data and increasing the quality and quantity of insights drawn from them.
This product information management trend helps brands minimize risks and maximize ROI by making decisions based on data rather than theoretical knowledge or past experience. Saumya Patel, Product Manager at Lowe's emphasizes the importance of data:
“Data is everything, the new superpower! And to make rational decisions on future features PMs should know to analyze data and check market trends.”
Nikunj puts a pin on this trend by citing how brands are investing more in tools for improving their decision-making process:
“The demand for digital tools for various product management functions such as requirement gathering, planning, analysis, etc. will continue to grow. Organizations will adopt tools that enable faster and contextual collaboration across applications.”
“In this dynamic world, data-based decision-making tools are going to stay which makes the complex decision-making process easier.”
4. Product Managers continue to expand their set of skills
An exciting and challenging element of product management is the rapid evolution of everything associated with it. Tools, platforms, technologies, market demands, etc., keeps on upgrading which brings new opportunities with it.
Product management’s future, therefore, is dependent on how quickly PMs adapt to these changes and deliver what their customers want to remain competitive.
“I think one of the biggest things that are ripe for change in terms of product (for me) is a wider segregation of skill sets prescribed for B2B vs B2C PMs.”
Professionals from different fields are transitioning to product management roles proving that product management is more about having the right skills rather than an appropriate degree. Nikunj recommends having an entrepreneurial mindset while making the switch:
“Product Management has become one of the sought-after roles. Many professionals are planning to transition into product management. Apart from usual problem-solving, empathy, communication, and leadership skills, I would definitely look at an entrepreneurial mindset. Taking new initiatives and risks is a key part of the Product Management journey.”
Based on the growth phase of a brand, product managers need different skills. Sonali Dange, Principal Product Manager at Dell shares how a brand’s needs ultimately determine what skills you need as a PM to succeed:
“Hiring a product manager can depend on various factors including the product life cycle, the market, the key skills required, etc. For example, the skills a PM requires to build a product from 0-to-1 would be different from that of the PM who needs to drive the vision for a mature product.”
“Understanding that each organization requires a different flavor of Product Management skills, and what your company requires specifically within the PM Toolkit to be successful, will help you identify best matches for open PM roles.”
“Companies need to be completely transparent with candidates about a few things:
- Ways of working and how much ownership they will have in terms of driving impact in the organization
- How success will be measured for the work they will do
- The growth trajectory for their role
Candidates need to know upfront, what value needs to be delivered and what success will look like, and how the company will invest in growing their skills professionally.”
5. Demand for Product Managers across various domains increases
At its core, product managers are problem solvers. They solve the business problems of the company, operational problems of their team, and niche-based problems of their customers.
As more domains become outcome-oriented, it has become necessary for them to adopt a problem-solving approach with design thinking to be successful, as mentioned above.
Unsurprisingly, the latest trend in product management of increased demand for PMs is here to stay.
Sujay Angadi, Product Manager at The Printers Mysore agrees about the importance of product managers and explains that the demand for PMs will remain as is despite the temporary dip brought in by the recession:
“Problems in businesses are always never ending and Product folks are the ones who are critical thinkers for business and want to solve those problems. So, there is no boom or doom, it will remain as it is. With the recession money getting invested in problem-solving might be delayed but eventually one or the other product manager will have to solve it. Hence, a career in product management remains hot.”
Valeria agrees with Sujay’s viewpoint about the importance of product managers to solve critical problems:
“I think there will always be a need for product management in order to drive user and business value. As a relatively newer field, product management rose to prominence as a defined role in order to connect the desired user and business outcomes to product delivery. In the context of a recession, product management is more important than ever to ensure the most value is delivered with available resources with a rapidly changing market and uncertainty.”
Saumya states that better days for the product management field lie ahead:
“It would boom, as we PMs think about the future/vision and in such scenarios, it becomes the pressing priority to strategically plan the future.”
“Product Management will not doom as a career for at least another decade irrespective of the number of recessions we face till then. Product Managers will be needed to drive alignment between stakeholders, drive prioritization & decision-making, to continuously push for improvements in thoughts, intent, processes, and outcomes for the respective end consumers being served.
The reason why I am confident in Product Management as a Career is because this is not a necessary function in the company if you have a good lead engineer, a good designer, a good QA, a good marketing guy, a good sales guy, etc. But it is extremely difficult to get this right set of people in the right place for the right duration and hence the demand for Product Managers who are flexible enough to fill in the gaps at the required place and time. This aspect is not going away for a long time.
PMs with very good secondary skills around Scrum Management, Design, Analytics, etc will probably be less impacted, especially in small and medium-sized companies. Middle Management & PMs in service industries may be impacted more by the recession as companies look to cut costs. Similarly, PMs working on future prospects that a company is putting on hold or PMs working in luxury goods-related companies may be impacted.”
With better opportunities coming ahead, companies might struggle to retain quality product talent. Yash says that companies need to work harder to retain their high-performing PMs to solve:
“When employees are appreciated, they do more than expected. Organizations can give them a sense of ownership of the product so that they feel responsible and valued. Understanding their personal goals and aligning those with the company’s goals by creating a concrete roadmap can help the companies retain their product talent.”
6. Adoption of AI-based tools and technologies continues to rise
Apart from outsourcing time-consuming and tedious processes to algorithms as we mentioned earlier, product management teams have also ramped up their investment in adopting AI-based tools and technologies to simplify their decision-making process.
This trend goes parallelly with the increased focus on data-backed decision-making. AI-backed tools can analyze heaps of data quickly to give you actionable insights.
“Considering the amazing generative AI tools that have come up lately, I think there is a lot of potential for AI applications using GPT-3, Dall-e, etc. These technologies will become important tools for a product manager to design smarter & future-ready products. Other than that, a lot of no-code/low-code website builders have also seen great traction, and understanding them can be a very valuable skill in product management.”
Of course, the core responsibilities of a product manager remain the same which limits the adoption of these tools to a certain extent. Furthermore, not all AI-backed product tools are needed by PMs.
Sonali explains this by listing three crucial categories of tools PMs need the most rather than listing tools individually:
“A day in the life of a product manager is filled with a ton of items on the to-do list and very little time to get to the list. Any and every help which can enable a product manager to get to the bottom of the list will play a huge role in the PM tech stack.
- The first one on this list is a collaboration tool. A PM’s day is filled with multiple meetings which have only got amplified due to the remote work. Any tool which can help PMs collaborate efficiently and effectively with all their stakeholders will make the top of the list.
- While there are many hats that a PM wears, the most critical of them all is being customer obsessed. Analytics & tracking tools are critical for PMs to build insights right from customer onboarding to usage. these insights help PMs in building out the next steps and keeping the product on track toward achieving the vision.
- While vision and strategy are critical, a PM needs to balance them out with solid execution. Tools that help PMs in backlog/story management in the most efficient way without having to spend a lot of time become critical. A tool that can give a bird’s eye view of the progress, and keep all the dev team on the same page is the key.”
7. Empathy is more needed than ever
Product managers need to understand and relate to the feelings of their team and customers while guiding the product management process. Empathy is now a much-needed skill, rather than a quality, for aspiring product managers.
Marcin explains that he would focus primarily on the “human element” of candidates while hiring a product manager:
“I would say that I would continue to look for that "human" aspect to a candidate. How well individual works in varied teams will continue to be a defining attribute of a good PM. "Lead without authority" is a statement that is often said in the PM space. This is a key element of a good PM and requires a high degree of personality, enthusiasm, and communication. Those are the attributes that I would look at in potential candidates.”
Sonali explains that product managers must be empathetic towards their customers:
“A PM needs to have a customer-first mindset and should be able to think “outside-in”. Many a time, when the teams are building products, they tend to go overboard in adding features that they believe will add value to the customer which may or may not be the case. Having an outside-in view will help in brutal prioritization and building a product that is truly what a customer wants.”
8. Organizations redefining their mission and vision
The mission and vision of a company reflect its long-term goals. Various brands are changing their growth trajectories to aim for qualitative goals such as becoming thought leaders, bringing social change, and revolutionizing their respective industries.
Akahsha explains that such a change will help product-led companies hire better talent through product management interviews:
“Getting really clear on your company's vision, mission, and strategy for value creation - and how the specific PM role you're hiring will contribute to this - really helps to convert top talent within your pipeline.”
Sonali, on the other hand, suggests that PMs should understand their brand’s mission and vision thoroughly to make that a reality:
“A PM needs to be an absolute strategist who can define the vision for the product and follow it up with s great strategy. A PM needs to be able to have a 1 lakh feet view and 1000 feet view at the same time to balance out the vision, strategy, and execution.”
“Most of the product talent we see is under-motivated due to unclear vision of the organizational leadership. Lack of vision results in uncertainty about the short and long-term goals, in my perspective. Hence, creates ambiguity and reduces confidence as a product professional. Industrial leaders need to overcome this by having their own vision for businesses and ensure the same is well understood downstream.”
9. Recruiters looking for passion while hiring
Being a product manager is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Experience, aptitude, empathy, technical knowledge, and communication are some of the many product management skills one needs to run various product management processes. On top of that, you need to perform under pressure and remain calm during stressful situations.
So, what makes a good product manager, who has all the above skills, great?
Sonali puts it succinctly:
“While this is highly overlooked, the need for a product manager to be passionate about product management, the product, and the domain is extremely critical. A PM role is tough due to multiple complexities including multiple stakeholders, scope changes, execution hurdles, etc. A passionate PM will be able to thread through the complexities with a drive and ownership toward achieving the product vision.”
It can be hard for recruiters to recognize passion for the job while scouting for new talent. Ritesh suggests an innovative approach to hiring managers for landing a passionate PM:
“The traditional route (at least in India) of hiring Product Managers from business school is changing now, people from very diverse backgrounds are showing interest and great growth in product management. I think companies should collaborate with product communities and offer challenges or case studies related to their business line - the responses can be the initial screening round as they validate the candidate’s interest as well as an understanding of the domain.”
Akahsha agrees with the suggestion of actively participating in product management communities:
“Companies should embed themselves within the Product Management community, and be actively providing value to product managers at each stage of their career - regardless of whether PMs are in their talent pipeline at the moment or not.”
10. Agile development is more favored
Agile product development helps product managers validate their ideas with little investment and ship new features to their customers quickly. Such an approach has become a necessity rather than a nice-to-have as customers want accurate solutions to their problems fast.
PMs possessing relevant skills to manage agile product management operations smoothly will not only have more employment options but also have a low risk of being laid off during a recession, as Tanmay puts it:
“PMs with very good secondary skills around Scrum Management, Design, Analytics, etc will probably be less impacted, especially in small and medium-sized companies.”
PMs and product-led companies should modify how they work according to the latest trends in the product management industry. The ten leading trends for 2023 are:
- Increased automation of processes
- Adoption of design thinking
- Focus on data-backed decision-making
- More learning and upskilling by PMs
- Higher demand for PMs in multiple domains
- Larger investment in AI-based tools
- Consideration of empathy as a must-have skill
- Reassessment of mission and vision by organizations
- Recruiters looking for passion in applicants
- Preference for agile product development practices
Product teams also require the right tools to keep up with the ever-changing market demands and evolving customer needs. However, with the continuous increase in the number of tools in the product manager tech stack, it can be hectic for PMs to do their job.
Product Management is a loosely defined, cluttered space. Product teams must prioritize the problems, crack solutions, define PRDs, constantly assess customer feedback to stay on track, get all stakeholders to align, manage capacity, keep dev on time, and so much more in between!
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- What are the trends in product management?
Focus on data for decision-making, adoption of AI-based tools, and increased demand for passionate and empathetic product managers are emerging trends in product management.
- Is product management a good career in 2023?
Yes. Despite the recession, there is a consistent demand for passionate problem solvers in every domain.
- What are the 3 major areas of product management?
Discovery — identifying the niche and the needs of the target audience, planning — building an actionable strategy to test hypotheses and build the product, and development — the iterative phase where a product is developed to meet customers’ needs are three major areas of product management.
- Does product management have a future?
Yes. Efficient problem solvers are always in demand in every industry.
- What are the 3 major trends?
Emphasis on data-backed decision-making, usage of AI-based tools and technologies, and higher demand for passionate and empathetic product managers are 3 major trends in product management.
- What are the 5 types of trends?
Paradigms, gigatrends, megatrends, microtrends, and fads are five types of trends.
- Why do product managers quit?
Lack of recognition, uncooperative team, and unclear directions are the top reasons why product managers quit.
- How old are most product managers?
Most product managers have an experience of at least 3-5 years in associate positions.
- What is the average salary of a product manager?
A product manager’s average salary ranges between $110,000-$130,000.
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