I recently moved jobs from a company in the telecom industry to a company in a non-technical field. My new company delivers services that help people. We use technology to enable the delivery of some of our services however, we do not produce a technical widget or software as the core of what we do. You may wonder, what is it like to be a Product Manager who does not deliver technology products?
Let me start by stating the definition of product management which is using business savvy and creativity to manage a product from inception, through its lifecycle, and until it is discontinued. Whether I am managing a technology product or a service, the definition of product management and the fundamentals of the role are the same. In my industry, the same service has been delivered to customers for about 30 years. This service has a very long lifecycle! The reason I was hired was to make us sexy again by innovating in new areas. I can do this by adding new services or delivering the existing services in new ways.
In order to achieve this innovation business goal, I must collaborate effectively with all internal stakeholders and clients to uncover market needs (as any good product manager would do). As many new services are currently under development (the organization had already a lot on the go before I joined), I must plug in to the various project teams currently developing and launching new services to understand what is coming down the pipeline that I will need to manage through the lifecycle.
As any other Product Manager, I need to effectively connect the market needs to the business goals. As well, I must ensure ease of access and ease of use of our services so that our customers want to utilize us more often or use more than just one of our varied services. At this time, our biggest roadblock to achieving our goals is communication. Simply put, end-users must know what we do in order to use our services. Understanding what is standing in the way to our brand and service recognition with end-users is crucial to continuous growth and revenues. As such, my role has in fact changed a bit from a Product Manager totally focused on product creation, development and launch to a Product Manager concerned with product communication.
In that sense, my technical background is helping as I can enhance our product communication methods via new communication technologies and new social media initiatives. With engaging communication I believe we will reach the end-user more effectively while building a competitive edge.