With 2021 behind us, we can all start looking forward to what 2022 may bring.
Will there be “unprecedented times”? Probably, if the last two years are anything to go by.
Will there also be significant changes and updates in the world of product management? Oh, almost certainly.
After all, if you’ve read our recent research paper, “Product First: A New Era of Product Management,” then you’ll already be aware of the key concerns and considerations making the rounds within the industry:
Product management tools: what they can do for product teams and how to use them better.
The continued challenges presented by remote working: lack of collaboration, issues with prioritization, and so on.
The reassuring thing is that problem B can be solved by problem A. Improve the product management tools used in your organization and see how much easier collaboration and effective prioritization becomes!
That’s something we’ll be continuing to work on here at airfocus during 2022. We promise to keep releasing time, cost, and stress-saving features to make you an even more effective PM!
What else can we expect from product management in 2022?
We asked some of the most influential names in the industry and here’s what they had to say…
“In 2022, product people will look to be more customer-focused”, argues Pradip Khakhar, founder and co-host of The Product Angle. Why? Because “To build products that people want to use and buy, product people need to listen to customers and understand what they are trying to achieve and understand what success looks like to them. Share this knowledge with anyone willing to listen and create products taking this knowledge as a data point — fostering a community with customers, users, prospects, and co-workers, encouraging them to come to the table to co-create.”
“As more retail, manufacturing, financial services, and insurance companies look to some form of ‘transformation’ (call it agile, digital, or product) there will be an increasing number of people with the title ‘product manager’ working on something other than their company's ultimate product.
I refer to those ‘somethings’ as internal products. And while they aren’t explicitly sold to a company’s customers, they do enable the customer journey. Think of a retailer’s website, or the account management portion of a bank’s website. It makes sense to apply product management techniques to these internal products because they facilitate key touchpoints in the customer journey.”
Kent J. McDonald, author and all-around authority on agile.
Product management coach and consultant Bernhard Hecker predicts that aspects beyond a product’s functionality will be important for product people to focus on in 2022:
“Those could be accessibility or sustainability, like the SDGs.”
“People will buy and use products that have not only a specific functionality, but that come from companies and teams that take care of our planet, whilst policymakers focus on a convergence of sustainability and digitization. This can be seen for example in the new German coalition contract, which is the underlying plan for our new government. Also, the EU puts more focus on the Green Deal.
“Product managers will have to look into these things and think about building sustainable and energy-efficient products.”
We talked about diversity in our trends forecast for 2021, and Adam Hecht, Senior Product Manager, eCommerce Platform, at apparel company Bombas, believes D&I will be a hot topic as we move into 2022 as well.
“It’s not original to say that product management is the voice of the customer, but it’s no less true because of that. Over the past few years, I’ve interviewed a variety of different people for product management roles. Machine learning engineers and chemistry PhDs interviewing for entry-level product management roles, and much more diversity generally in terms of people's ethnicity, gender, and neurodiversity.
“Being more inclusive in this way can only help the industry. Tapping into the experiences and expertise of groups other than white CIS men is essential in all business areas. But, I really notice it in product management.”
>> Read more from Adam Hecht here.
For this final product management 2022 prediction, we’re fusing together the thoughts of both Adam Thomas and Lisa Mo Wagner.
As a technologist and Lead Product Manager at SmartRecruiters, Adam has noticed that as more people enter, or look to enter, the product world, the bar is being raised in terms of professional standards. This should be good news, as better talent = better products.
But Adam also raises his concerns, saying: “It remains unclear if the new, aspiring PMs have gained a good understanding of what it takes to be in the position, or if the recruiters know what to look for in a talent addition to their product teams.”
In a similar vein, Lisa, product coach at codecentric AG, suggests that the lack of clearly defined career paths within product can cause product professionals to doubt their skills.
“By sharing their vulnerabilities, product managers will find they are not alone and find encouragement and support from their peers.”
Adam’s advice is similar:
“Find yourself a good, experienced mentor or coach to guide you through the product journey, to help you understand and analyze the needs, the data, the insights from different stakeholders involved with a product.”
>> Read Adam Thomas’s insights in full here, and Lisa Mo Wagner’s via this link.
Happy New Year, PMs. We hope that whatever 2022 has in store for you is challenging and inspiring in equal measure.