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Data Science: the next wave of change for product managers?

Product managers today are nothing short of marketing visionaries. From estimating the market fit to crafting an effective product strategy, they define a product’s potential success.

Hemanth Kota
16th May 2019
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A much-coveted role in the industry, product managers are responsible for upping product delivery standards, not just within the company, but also in the industry. In fact, they create the base for redefining user experiences and behavior.


However, this wasn’t always the case. Much before product managers came to be known for break-through product experiences, and were synonymous with the most aspirational title for young technology professionals, it was the business analyst role that was considered glorious.


Genesis


Back in the early 2000s, when India became a hub for mature technology talent, the lines between those with operational expertise and the ones with technical expertise began to blur. A few professionals, armed with technical expertise and eager to acquire business and operations knowledge, began to cross over across domains, creating what was then a rare blend – business analysts.


This new role offered everything that an ambitious professional aspired – exposure to senior stakeholders from technology as well as the business domain, opportunities to discover new domains, and lead engagements to deliver business value. Most importantly, it offered a strong mandate to travel to where the action was, ensuring exposure to challenges and opportunities in running a business on a global scale.


Though changing dynamics have placed higher focus on the product manager as compared to the business analyst,who remains focused on technical aspects, it isn’t surprising that it is the latter who is most equipped to take on the role of the product manager. In fact, product management is often looked at as a logical career path for business analysts. This is especially true for analysts who are focused on strategy, business value, and most importantly, ‘customer needs.’


Evolution ahead


Aspiring product managers must take into consideration the next wave of change in this evolution piece.


Just as a few key skills distinguished their predecessors – business analysts – from other technology and business professionals, their successors too will distinguish themselves from traditional product managers owing to a few specific skills.


Consider this: if a combination of great domain knowledge, technology appreciation, value driven strategic thinking, and leadership skills can transform a business analyst into a product manager, what can make a product manager even mightier?


Continuing the journey of evolution of these roles, we are at a point where data and analytics have gained the prominence they rightfully deserve. As new age companies demonstrate the power of data and its impact on business, they have led to the inception of new roles such as data scientists.


While this role always existed in traditional companies, it was termed “statistician”. However,today, the role has taken on a lot more significance; product managers would agree that the insights and algorithms offered by data scientists can propel a product into another realm altogether.


Adapt and grow


Ambitious technology professionals, be it those who became business analysts or the ones who evolved into product managers, are known for their adaptability and resilience; they are quick to feel the pulse of the industry,and transform their skill set accordingly.


Once again, it’s time for product managers to take note of the new wave in the industry and evolve their skills accordingly. In fact, I would go on to say that acquiring data analysis and algorithm skills aren’t just nice to have for better career opportunities, but are essential for a fulfilling and high-growth career in the industry.


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