Data Visualization / Product Manager

The New Role of Product Manager

Two people conversing over data analytics

Since the beginning, we have worked with all sorts of thought leaders within organizations from chief executive officers to product managers to data analysts. Within the last few years we have witnessed a shift within the role of product managers.

Up until now, the role of the product manager was usually a hybrid of program manager, technical project manager and product marketing. Their main focus is to keep the project going, marketed, and within budget. They were not strategic leaders…until now…and this is where we see the role changing.

Product managers in the truest sense are strategic leaders and thinkers. We are seeing this more and more as we begin to interact with product managers who are tasked to monetize the organization’s data through product development.

How are we seeing the role of product manager being played out in data visualization?

As organizations continue to collect data, they are being overwhelmed with the quantity of data. C-level executives are wrestling with the notion of how they can monetize their data. They hear about other organizations creating data products that effectively generate new revenue. They are under pressure from their board and other stakeholders to find revenue-generating opportunities. They know their data is a goldmine, so they look to their product manager for answers.

The product manager in this scenario does not become the hero. Instead, the product manager becomes the leader. The product manager has the intertwined leadership skillsets of an executive, innovator, data analyst, product developer, and customer experience representative.  With these skillsets, they understand the executives and their needs, the customer and their needs, and the data before ideation. Product ideas are born from this collective understanding. A plan is created, a team is formed, which they lead, to turn the product idea into a data product that generates revenue. Notice that we did not say “which they manage”. They are more than managers, they are the executive leader of the team as a CEO leads a company. They do not lead by producing as a many products as they can, hoping that one will be successful. They lead by building the right product to solve the right problem to go to the right market at the right time.

How do they do this?

A good product manager knows that he or she cannot send a finished data product to market without validating it first. Although they receive pressure from executives and other stakeholders to get a revenue-generating product in front of the customer quickly, they know without validation, there is high risk of product failure and lost revenue. The challenge is creating their product that they can validate in a reasonable amount of time while being conscious of budget and resources.

Product managers do not take shortcuts and are very detailed, but at the same, they are always looking for ways to efficiently build their product without going over budget. They know getting the product in front of the customer quickly results in faster validation and revenue for the organization. As the owner of the product, they keep the product moving, but they also have the power to push pack development, make changes, and determine when the product is ready to go to market for validation.

When the product manager is given the proper ownership and responsibility to create data products that generate revenue, the result is most often successful. The success is experienced through customer buy-in because of data validation and the success continues into maturity of the data product and ultimately increased value and revenue.

We know that we will be working with more and more product managers as they evolve into more of an executive innovative. We look forward to hearing their ideas and helping them build innovative data products to monetize their data.

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