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A New Era for PMs — What Will Product Management Look Like in 2022?

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Product management 11 Nov 3 mins read Malte Scholz

The product management profession is defined by change.

Some trends stay, some trends go, technology unlocks new opportunities, and user needs keep us all on our toes. The fast-paced nature of the job is something you have to love as a PM, but the last 18 months have been a particularly challenging test on our processes and our ability to adapt.

The question we need to ask ourselves as we approach the end of 2021 is: what have we learned this year and how can that help us move forward?

This question is also the inspiration for airfocus’ latest research paper, ‘Product First: A New Era of Product Management’, which you can download for free right now.

2022 looks set to be another dynamic and exciting year for product managers — though it won’t be without its challenges.

Product management will be a hugely important — and widely respected — field in 2022

2020-2021 threw product management into the spotlight — and the world’s interest in, and reliance on, product teams shows no sign of slowing down. Organizations across a range of industries are looking towards product-centric development strategies as critical drivers of business growth. 

“By 2022, firms using product-centric delivery will experience twice the average rate of success in recovery and renewal from the economic downturn” 

- Gartner®

Our research with 300 product managers, product owners, and directors supported this trend: 38% of product managers believe that their role will become more valued in the future. Nice!

... and yet, PMs have been underserved and undertooled to date — so that will need to change

If you’re reading this and thinking, “Well, I’m not sure I feel all that valued at my company”, you’re not alone — and our research has the data to back that up.

It won’t be enough for businesses to simply realize how important product management is, they’ll need to invest in better tooling and resources as well.

  • 57% of PMs are frustrated by their product management platform’s lack of features and functionality.

  • 51% also feel the software is far from easy to use.

  • … And 33% say that collaboration is difficult as a result.

The time has come for a digital transformation in the product management sector itself. Or businesses risk a lot more than inefficiencies and disengagement within the product team.

PMs will face a renewed set of challenges next year

Covid-19 amplified the challenge of leading a product team and bringing great products to users.

Markets have shifted in ways that no one could have expected. Companies have had to battle delays, adapt to remote working, and manage a shift to product-centricity — and product managers were at the epicenter of all this disruption.

Will 2022 be any easier?

It’s hard to say. According to our respondents, PMs are facing mounting pressure and a list of obstacles that continues to be shaped by pandemic aftershocks. 

  • One-third of product professionals are concerned about defining and communicating their product strategy, then taking features rapidly to market.

  • One-quarter are expecting to struggle with stakeholder alignment and dialogue, as well as prioritization.

>> See which other challenges your fellow PMs think they’ll be facing in 2022 by reading the research report here.

Product management tools can help!

This article is just a fraction of the research we cover in the full whitepaper. But from the snippets we’ve pulled out, there’s one thing that’s clear: dedicated product management tools have the potential to solve a lot of PMs’ problems — and 43% of product managers agree.

The tools we use today will need to improve and adapt alongside the product manager’s changing role and responsibilities.

  • 24% of respondents agree that the main benefit of a product management tool or platform should be to help their team decide what to build next to meet market demand.

  • Almost the same percentage again (22%) said that such a platform should help them to bring products and features to market more rapidly.

At airfocus, we make it our mission to not only better understand the real-world experiences of product teams, but to build the software that helps them succeed. We’ve been busy launching new features in 2021 and we will continue to hone our tools in line with 2022’s demands.

If you’ve got ideas for how product management tools can better serve you in your working day, we’d love to hear them. And you can download and read our full report ‘‘Product First: A New Era of Product Management’ now.


1. Gartner, Market Guide for Product Management and Roadmapping Tools, by Deacon D.K Wan, Mike West, Nikos Drakos, 30 September 2020; GARTNER is registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

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