Digitization is here. In addition to IT, it is often the business itself that drives this change. New business models and interactions with the market and customers are developing. These initiatives require an ownership in the organization that does not end up in IT but usually within the business itself, even if IT is involved in some form. Management groups are expanded with the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) next to the existing CIO.
Changed business places new demands on Product Management
Digitization driven by the business is based on the existing roles and responsibilities that already exist today. Given the large proportion of service components that are part of the digitalization, it may feel strange to place the responsibility on a Product Manager, but it has some distinct advantages:
Product Management, in digitalisation, stands for a more customer-oriented way of defining what it is you need to deliver. It includes change in product sales, marketing, pooling capabilities, building solutions, pricing, discounting, establishing partnerships for deliveries and production, and improvements. This also means that the term “digital products” has been introduced. They are responsible for a Product Manager in the same way that a Product Manager is responsible for the analogue products.
New and familiar responsibilities
Product Management includes clear responsibilities that must be managed within the organization:
Strategy for the digital product: identifying markets, understanding needs, scope and competition and seeing the opportunities to deliver value.
Ownership in the entire delivery organization: a total responsibility that includes conceptualization, design, prioritization, establishment and the operational delivery aspects to live up to customer expectations.
Marketing: defining, executing, measuring and adapting the roll-out of the product to the different markets and segments the business aims for
Profitability and delivery precision: being able to drive priorities in delivery, costs and revenue, growth, quality and customer satisfaction, usually linked to the new concept of “customer experience”, i.e. the customer’s experience of the product.
Do you recognize this list of characteristics, qualifications, skills and responsibilities? They have previously described within IT Service Management as the responsibility for the service life cycle, which is exactly what a Digital Product Manager does. In most organizations, however, Service Managers are tied to internal IT delivery and do not have all market-related aspects in their responsibilities. So, now that IT and the business are part of a new digitization collaboration, where the business is located in the driver’s seat, it is understandable to use the business’s terminology. And suddenly it’s a Product Manager in charge of the digital product, or service. In my next blog post, I will highlight the similarities between services and digital products, especially regarding the definition of the value they stand for.
Should we change our approach?
Nothing new under the sun? Yes, the focus on specially defined delivery definitions, which are similar to a description of a physical product, makes this language used by both internal customers, our operations and our external customers and consumers.
Should we then adapt, or should we stick to our academically developed terminology? I suggest we talk to the farmer in the farmer’s way, that is where the customer orientation begins.