Product management is an ever-growing, constantly evolving discipline, and the turbulence of recent years have only fueled this transformation.
Product management today is almost an entirely different practice from what we knew a decade ago. That’s why it’s critical to always stay abreast of what’s going on in the industry to remain competitive.
In this guide, we’ll go over five product management trends to keep your eye on in the 2023 calendar year.
Table of contents
- Focus on monetization
- AI on the rise
- Data, data, and more data
- Remote team management
- Specialized PMs in demand
1. Focus on monetization
The market shifted dramatically in 2022. Venture capitalists became more conservative regarding new investments and rising interest rates made taking on debt more expensive.
This leads to less money available for product companies.
In the past few years, all that was needed was a shiny pitch and growth in the user base to get external financing. Worst case, you could get a bank loan relatively cheaply.
Today, companies must focus more on becoming sustainable and actually earning money on their own or, at the very least, project enough revenue growth to attract investors.
As a result, product managers will have to become better at monetization. Previously unsexy topics like pricing, bundling, tiering, and lifetime value calculations will become a primary focus for many product managers.
In previous years, product managers had to prove they could build lovable products. In 2023, product managers will have to prove they can build profitable products. And that’s a more significant shift than you might think.
2. AI on the rise
The recent rise of tools like ChatGPT 3 has been hugely disruptive. It has brought publicly accessible artificial intelligence to another level and showcased endless use cases for this technology.
Most interestingly, it somewhat democratized access to artificial intelligence. Companies can start partnerships AI vendors and use variations of their solution in their products and services.
That means you no longer need to build an AI from scratch; you can just connect to an AI provider, configure the connection to suit your needs and, voila! You have an AI-powered product.
To remain competitive, product managers should have a solid understanding of AI capabilities and how they can enhance their products.
3. Data, data, and more data
In the past, data-informed product management was a sign of an advanced and mature organization. Today, it seems like one of the basic requirements for the role.
Apart from the discipline simply maturing over the years, there are two reasons why data is becoming the daily bread and butter of product managers.
First, as mentioned above, there’s an increasing focus on AI. To reap the benefits of AI, you must first feed it high-quality data. And if you’re already making the effort to gather and process the data to feed the AI, why not use it to inform product decisions?
The second reason is the ease of getting the data. In the past, you needed an SQL-skilled data analyst to gather, clean and process data. Today, product analytics software can do many of these tasks under the hood.
As it turns out, it’s not that product managers didn’t want to use the data; the entry barriers were just too high. Nowadays, it’s getting increasingly easier to get into data-informed product management. There are no excuses anymore.
4. Remote team management
Although a few years have passed since the 2020 remote-work boom, this way of working is still in its early maturity stage.
First, it takes more than a year or two to adapt your processes, culture, and mindset to a fully remote setting. There are still dozens of unsolved remote work challenges. That’s why we’re seeing new remote-enhancing products and solutions appear on the market all the time.
Moreover, some companies are still resistant to implementing remote work. Some never will. This means that even in a few years, there’ll still be people who have never experienced long-term remote work before and will require special adaptation and onboarding.
Product managers should follow new remote-work trends, products, and tactics and experiment until they find the most optimal setting for building valuable products. If you have a remote team, it’s improbable that you’ve already found the most optimal approach to working remotely.
And even if you have, sooner or later, someone who’s never worked in a remote setting will probably join your team, which will pose an extra challenge.
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Long story short, the shift to remote work is not over yet; in fact, it’s barely started. And it comes with a whole new set of opportunities and challenges.
5. Specialized PMs in demand
In previous years, we had the problem of not having enough product managers on board. Now, we face another challenge.
As more companies begin to understand the value of product management and start hiring or training them, we begin to learn that a single product person can’t do it all on their own.
While having an interdisciplinary product manager on board is usually 10 times better than having no product manager at all, as products become more complex and diversified, expecting one person to effectively manage it all is foolish.
As the industry matures, the specializations will become more distinct. I’d expect four layers of specializations to become more and more distinct as we enter 2023 and beyond:
- Segment – Are you a B2B or B2C product manager?
- Industry – In which sector do you have the most expertise? FinTech, HealthTech, EdTech, RetailTech?
- Stage – Do you feel the best working on pre-PMF companies, scaleups, or established products?
- Skill set — What topics could you take for weeks without taking a break? Is this growth? Monetization? UX design? Technical details? Product expansion?
Although these specializations won’t be as strict as medicine, you can still easily rotate between them; discovering your main areas of interest will help you grow and make you more competitive in the marketplace.
What type of PM are you?
Although these are only predictions, and I’m pretty sure they’ll take more than a year to fully manifest, one thing is certain: 2022 was a big year for product management and how we build products and startups, and the events of the past year — and the year to come — will greatly impact our future work.
Featured image source: IconScout
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