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Welcome to digital product engineering
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Authors
Piyush Gupta
Piyush Gupta
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Leading businesses are adopting new technologies faster – creating innovative products against the clock in a race to stay relevant and keep customers engaged. With so much at stake, the role of the Product Manager or Product Owner has become critical.

Product management is why an organization exists: to deliver great products to customers and hopefully make tons of cash. However, having the right product strategy and developing a successful product is hard because Darwin rules supreme in the world of products. Most new products and start-ups offering products struggle to survive.
 
 Below is a typical list of the challenges faced by any organization in the product management world:

  • Customers, at times, find it difficult to articulate what they want
  • The technology landscape is changing rapidly
  • Competition is fierce and global
  • Industry boundaries are changing
  • Product pricing is more challenging than ever, especially given the global competition
  • Operational efficiencies and economies of scale are making a loss of profit margins

Creating successful offerings that deal with all these criteria keeps product managers up at night. Product managers are mostly interested in the trends which impact the below core areas of product management:

  • Trend 1: Technical
  • Trend 2: Business & marketing
  • Trend 3: UX principles (visual design strategy)
  • Trend 4: Data-driven decision-making

Let’s look at the four top trends in product management and tackle them separately.

1.    Technical trends

Technical trends are one of the most difficult as the space continuously evolves.

No one is ever sure that whatever new technology will be adopted, it’s not just another flash in the pan.

The market is continuously bombarded with new technology, hence, the trends keep shifting.

Technical trends can span across multiple different areas, including:

  • Usage of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Architectural design patterns example - service-oriented architecture
  • DevOps and infrastructure, such as AWS, Cloud Computing
  • Frameworks and libraries
  • Programming languages
  • API technologies and principles example

2.    Business and marketing trends

Several factors influence business and market trends. These factors work together in weird and wonderful ways to create new playing fields for businesses. Sometimes, these factors shift organically over time; sometimes, the changes happen quickly. For example, the gradual shift to digitalization didn’t happen overnight, but during the crisis of covid, we all have witnessed that the shift to remote working did.

Businesses need to adapt to new market trends, but clearly, one won’t always have the luxury of time to decide on a clear strategy.

During covid, we have seen that many businesses were struggling to adapt to remote working initially. However, they accepted the situation very quickly and were able to adapt remote working to keep their business running.

These are some key factors that influence business and market trends.

  • Economic: Are you building a product in a recession or a booming economy?
    A recent example is the covid crisis when many businesses had to stop building or manufacturing their different products because of the economic impact.
  • Political: Political events (wars, political policy, new political dogmas, societal progressivism)
    A recent example is the war between Ukraine and Russia which has impacted businesses globally.

3.    UX principles (visual design strategy)

The problem with design trends is that as soon as the trend has passed, your product can look extremely outdated if you don’t continue to keep up with the latest visual trends.  If the brand is built upon the principle that you are fresh, trendy, and hip, it’s probably worth the investment of constantly keeping on top of the latest visual trends.

It may be possible for other products to stick to universal, fundamental UX principles instead. Make a button look like a button. Make the text easy to read. Anticipate user’s questions. Make features easy to understand and intuitive enough that you don’t need hours of explanatory videos to onboard the users. These are UX principles, not design trends, and it’s important to make that clear.

Intuitive, user-friendly features, and the latest visual trends can lead to a unique design strategy.

You probably don’t want it ever to get to the point where you lose customers because of a poor, outdated design, so it’s still useful to keep on top of design trends before this happens.

4.    Data-driven decision-making

Data-driven product management helps product managers use the right data, uncover insights, and, ultimately, build a successful product.

I see increased attention on data governance with a focus on privacy and security. This is because we’re now working with a larger volume of data than ever before and the need for personalization through AI (Artificial Intelligence). For this reason, there is a significant rise in modern data management platforms, and product ops functions are widely spreading.

Data-driven decision-making enables businesses to generate real-time insights and predictions to optimize their performance.

Through this, they can test the success of different strategies and make informed business decisions for sustainable growth.

AI-based analytics are used widely in corporate evidence-based decision-making processes. Product managers have started to understand the importance of data-driven development and are taking advantage of it. This is done using AI predictive behavior data by offering a personalized user experience.

Apart from the above trends, there are a few more factors that any product manager must consider, like:

  • Customer acquisition and retention
  • Usage of Low or No Code platforms as much as possible

Conclusion

Though these trends are very important for a product manager to consider, the degree of impact may vary from case to case. Hence, a product manager should diligently analyze all of these factors to identify the most critical ones for their product and act upon them accordingly. Some trends will fade, and if you’ve skipped the trend entirely, nobody will care. So, before you decide to pay attention to a trend, I’d suggest that there are a few questions worth asking yourself.

  • Impact on the domain: Is my domain impacted due to this trend, or could it impact in the future?
  • Competitive threats: Are my competitors adapting these trends and benefiting from them?
  • Impact on existing customer base: Are my existing customers impacted by these trends in some way or another? Can they switch to another competitor if I don’t adapt to these trends?
  • Impact on potential customers: Will I lose any of my future potential customers if I don’t adapt to these trends?

If the trend scores high against these criteria, it’s worth revisiting your strategy to understand how you can adapt to the trend that matters. If not, it might be best to sit it out and wait to see what happens next.

But if things do move quickly and you want to adapt to the new trend, you’ll need to ensure you’re not too late to the party. Better still, why not challenge your team to create new trends of your own?