2011: “Have you lost your mind, James? You really should have remained at Barclays, what’s this tantrum with product management?”

2015: “James! You can’t go about experimenting! You’re a real business!”

2019: “Sir James, how does one hire more product managers? Also, could you please spare some time to teach the nuances of MVP experiments? And how exactly it could be run in a B2B?”

Oooh! Mindless James of 2011 seems to have become a thought leader by 2019!

Yes, dear friend, ten years ago, if you’d taken up a product manager role, you’d have been looked down on. But now, you can lift your collar and proudly holler that you are a product manager.

Let’s now give you reasons enough to be proud by touring you across the various realms in which product management has evolved over the past decade.

Product Management Then Vs Now

1. Scholarly Appendages

Earlier, you could easily fill the shoes of a product manager if you had an MBA degree. All that was expected of you was dynamic and commanding leadership, coupled with product managerial skills.

However, on the flip side, the present times demand that you have a degree in computer science and design. Better said, you have to be a Jack of all trades and master of one. 

Unlike the former days, where your teammates would seamlessly comply with your decisions, 2020 requires you to be strong in at least any one of the intersecting components of product management – business or tech or design or data, while being aware of what goes on in the other realms. 

This is how great product managers like Elon Musk delegate their managerial duties. While Elon knows the science and tech behind making multi-planetary existence a reality, he also can paddle the other essential aspects of product management. 

2. Workspace Bustle

Ten years ago, if you walked into the cabins of product managers, you would have found them pouring over heaps of paper works on their desks. As you can guess, they did oftentimes misplace documents, missed meetings, and messed up with their to-do lists.

But you really can’t blame them, when digital was far from their reach, and only papyrus could befriend them. 

Yet, they did all that was in their power to ship the products under development. 

Today, however, time management plays a magnetic role in the workspace of product managers. Nate Stewart, Product Manager at Percolate, says that he follows a systematic means of organizing his tasks.

For instance, he spends about sixteen hours of his time in researching how to go about new hires, set up industry collaborations. Next, he allocates about fifteen hours of his week to indulge in meetings with his team members. 

With all the conclusions formed in the fifteen hours of chat, he puts them into practice and executes them thoroughly in about twelve hours. Putting an additional seven hours into presentations and demonstrations, coupled with an hour of hiring, Nate knows how do steer his activities.

Thanks to the advancement in technology, in the likes of Google Calendars, Jira, Atlassian, and ClickUp.

3. Consumer Learnings

The creation of new products is deemed valuable only when the end product returns the favor in the form of revenue. 

During development, the product managers of ages past used focus groups to determine if they’d get a sweet Return on Investment (ROI). They choose a particular segment of the consumer population and deploy a moderator to connect with the focus group. 

The moderator delivers the data based on his interaction with the focus group. The product manager leverages this data as feedback to make the necessary changes in the developing product.

On the other side of the spectrum, these days, A/B testing is being welcomed eagerly in comparison to that of focus groups, as it promises a wider scope for improvement and sales.

With hypotheses, definitions, implementations, and user value revelations, A/B testing have been giving the product managers of this day an upper leg in better consumer learnings for the turn around of better-polished products.

4. Personal Tasking

As you noticed along the introductory lines, in the inceptive stages, the role of a product manager was to lead as a managerial leader. But now, it’s to lead as a knowledgeable leader.

As circumstances had proposed, the product managers then were desirous to only look into the business aspect of the product under development. Since no technical expertise was needed then, good managerial and leadership skills were enough to govern the team, which they also relished.

But that’s not the case now.

The best product manager resume examples of the modern days would be one that flaunts a business degree in complement with a technical degree. This explains why the product managers of these days enjoy diving into the technical glitches to get them sorted out.

A good example of such an engineer product manager is Ken Norton, the Senior Operating Partner at Google Ventures. Though he hails from the arts and science background, his education in the engineering realm has rendered him the standing of one of the best product managers of all time.

Now you’d understand that it’s no longer just dealing with people as in olden times, rather witty dealings with peeps and technology.

5. Decision-Making

Big data analytics is the buzz word these days. 

So, you surely can’t blame the 2010s product managers for basing all their decisions on opinions. Through resources like focus groups they framed their decisions earlier. 

And as time spurned the development of technology into the realm of artificial intelligence and machine learning, data-driven decision-making processes have given the product managers of these days to effect wise actions.

Glimpse Into the Future

The striking evolution from the product managers of ancient times to the recent days is solely attributed to the fast-paced development in technology.

Based on the present happenings, predictions into the future include the following:

  • Integration of strategy and product management by SaaS companies
  • Lack of talent to fill in the roles of CPOs
  • Development of more PM training hubs
  • Rise in different PM roles – technical product managers, data product managers, design product managers, growth product managers

The pointers above are just a spark of what is awaiting you in the future. If tech geeks incarnate Tony Stark’s Jarvis, then be prepared!