Five Predictions for the Future of Product Management

What’s the future look like for product managers? Stay ahead of the curve!

Denzel’s iconic line “play chess, not checkers” from ‘Training Day’ has enjoyed a resurgence lately thanks to Instagram and Tiktok. But what’s the deal? It means to think big, strategize carefully, anticipate your next move, and always stay ahead of the game. It’s not only about being the best, but it’s about innovating along the way, too.

We have experienced a lot of shifts in professional life in the past few years, first with the pandemic and the Great Resignation, and now with the advent of accessible and intuitive AI. And even though these are grinding to a halt, their influence has been enduring. There hasn’t been a time like this in recent collective memory; truth be told, this shift has just begun. AI is getting more powerful and widespread, and very real concerns have blossomed in the past few months–from bias to privacy considerations. But whether you’re entirely sold or not, the field of product management will change very soon.

So whether you favor the Queen’s Gambit or the Sicilian Defence, you’ll have your competitors in checkmate before you know it. Based on current trends and technological developments, here are five of our predictions to stay on top of the game:

♟️ The future product manager will have a diverse background ♟️

It’s hard to find someone with a degree in product management. And there’s a good reason for that–to be a successful product manager, it’s essential to have a diverse background that you can use to create well-developed products. It’s common to find product managers with backgrounds in design, marketing, business, or computer and engineering sciences–to name a few.

A diverse multidisciplinary background is necessary to navigate the varied and interdisciplinary profession. But in the near future, this will be even more essential. The digital economy is constantly evolving, and being able to pivot to new technologies and business models will be an asset. And even still, the field of product management is becoming more and more competitive. Having different perspectives and expertise, from design to customer service, will be essential.

♟️ The future product manager will bridge the gap between intuition and technology ♟️

You’ll need to bridge the gap between your past experiences and the continually evolving technological landscape. That said, you should probably become very acquainted with more strict technological innovations, like AI.

Here’s what you can do to make the jump comfortably:

  • Identify your transferable skills. Take an audit of your skills and consider how they fit into your team and the direction of your products.
  • Focus on your strengths. And build on them! If you already have a talent or professional experience in one area, you’re already ahead of the pack.
  • Seek mentors and training. You’re not going to be an expert in everything. But once you consider your strengths, then look at your weaknesses. You don’t have to look far; many great training opportunities may come directly from your existing team and projects.
  • Be adaptable. Stay on top of changing market conditions and technological developments. Even if you can’t be an expert in all of them, you should know a little about a lot.

Upskilling will only enhance career growth and job satisfaction. There’s a lot to learn, like keeping up with tech to understanding cross-functional collaboration. Upskilling offers a unique opportunity to distinguish you and your team to make incredible products. And, of course, to stay ahead of competitors.

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♟️ The future product manager will know how to use AI to their advantage ♟️

Look, we’re sure ChatGPT can explain to you how AI works. Heck–ask it to do that in a Shakespearean sonnet. But soon (starting now!), a successful product manager must understand the capabilities and responsibilities of using AI. AI has almost unlimited potential and will become increasingly necessary in everyday professional life. But having a solid understanding of the capabilities and limitations of artificially intelligent technologies is a must. How does AI fit into your daily workflow? How much can you reasonably trust chatbot outputs? How do you cope with privacy concerns? What about bias?

Having a solid strategy for how your team plans to integrate AI into product design is also a good idea. There are countless opportunities here, from using it to analyze customer behavior and product usage to informing product development and marketing initiatives.

♟️ The future product manager will be agile ♟️

Be agile. Product cycles are shortening, feedback is continuous, and data-driven decision-making is a must. Collaboration is an essential tool in your toolbox. Agile product managers work closely with cross-functional teams. Stay customer-focused and interactive to allow your products to develop quickly and efficiently. To do this well, focus on strategy, customer feedback, roadmap development, feature implementation, and adaptability. In short, the same things that are essential now will be even more important in the future. Feedback, communication, and teamwork are, and will always be, paramount.

Co-creation is another great opportunity to foster collaboration and agility during the entire development and iteration process. It’s the method of inviting external stakeholders into product innovation. An agile product manager uses it to uncover new perspectives, cultivate community, and enhance their product experience.

♟️ The future product manager will emphasize customer experience ♟️

Customer expectations are constantly evolving. Now more than ever, your customers and clients demand a personalized and seamless experience. A report released by MoEngage earlier this year surveyed 2,000 customers in North America and found that 41% of respondents want to hear from brands weekly. But keep in mind, this is very region specific–in Europe, less than a third of respondents wanted a personalized experience based on previous purchasing behavior.

In today’s highly competitive market, it’s crucial to differentiate yourself. And navigating customer experience may be the not-so-secret key to success. But that being said, we also live in an overstimulating, highly advertised world. It’s your job, especially in the near future, to balance the fulcrum between customer experience and burnout.

🚀 Tl;dr

All of this is to say that adaptability is product management's bread and butter. It’s easy to feel behind when technology and customer preferences seem to change overnight. But you can stay on top of things and create incredible products by considering your strategy, prioritizing collaboration, and understanding technological developments. And always remember: don’t forget your customers along the way.

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Content Writer
Benjamin is fascinated by the intersection between artificial intelligence and the Future of Work. Ben is always researching AI advancements, professional development, and evolving workplace landscapes.