The Trends On These Product Management Professionals’ Minds In 2023

Product professionals at WHOOP and OneView Commerce shared how they’re staying atop the fast-moving field of product management.

Written by Stephen Ostrowski
Published on Jan. 24, 2023
 The Trends On These Product Management Professionals’ Minds In 2023
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No discipline is immune from change — a reality that product management professionals understand well. 

“Just like in many fields, the shift to remote working and the demands for digital transformation that came with it has placed considerable strain on existing product management processes,” said Jennia Williamson, senior director of product strategy and product operations at Boston-based commerce software platform OneView Commerce.  

Williamson said that an embrace of agile processes has been borne out of that digital transformation shift, facilitating the delivery of value to users expeditiously as wants and needs evolve. 

Meanwhile, Ingrid Hartman, group product manager at wearables company WHOOP, observed a change in the field that is the result of the growth in product management roles and talent entering the field.

“It feels like a role that went from being more niche and technically focused to one that has become democratized across people from many different backgrounds,” said Hartman. “This fantastic diversity of backgrounds means a corresponding diversity in product philosophies.”

Certainly, something that hasn’t changed is the need to understand one’s users, remain curious and continue developing relevant chops. Below, Hartman and Williamson shared what’s catching their attention in the field — and how their companies aim to stay on top of it all. 

 

Ingrid Hartman
Group Product Manager • WHOOP

In your experience, how has the practice of product management evolved over the last few years?

In the past few years, I’ve seen a major influx of people wanting to get into product. It feels like a role that went from being more niche and technically focused, to one that has become democratized across people from many different backgrounds. I’ve met product managers who were formerly in engineering, data science, customer service and PMs who were formerly humanities majors with no prior tech experience.

The results of this are twofold: this fantastic diversity of backgrounds means a corresponding diversity in product philosophies. It also means that as a product leader, you need a keen eye for talent. With the barrier to entry of product lower than ever before, it's more important than ever before to separate the good from the great.

 

What kinds of technological or operational developments have driven or enabled those changes, and how has your team adapted?

The number of digital products the average person interacts with on a daily basis is very high. Also consider that the time to market of new tech innovations is getting shorter over time — users are more sophisticated, expect more from their tech products and adapt to change more rapidly. 

What this means for PMs is that it is more critical than ever to be a super user of different products yourself. You should be seeking out the fringe and finding alpha wherever you can. Don't just stick to your industry. Cut across industries and see what UX practices, features, marketing strategies and business models feel fresh. Learn from the best.

For PMs, it is more critical than ever to be a super user of different products. Cut across industries and see what UX practices, features, marketing strategies, and business models feel fresh.”

 

What this also means is that there is literally no excuse not to talk to and learn from your users. Talk to your users weekly. Make it habitual. You will not only learn what problems they are trying to solve, but you'll also learn what new tools they have already found to fill their gaps.

 

How does your team empower and encourage product professionals to explore new technologies and practices? 

WHOOP creates a lot of space for our product managers to explore other products and present best practices back to the group. It’s not uncommon for members of our team to wear another wearable device for months and really learn the ins and outs of how it works.

We also set aside time for regular Zoom calls with WHOOP members. Everyone, including our VP of product, has these calls. We believe that including time for regular user research as a part of our daily routine is a critical part of shaping our product strategy. We’re also fortunate to have so many WHOOP members who want to give back to the community by giving us their honest feedback!

 

 

OneView Commerce team photo
ONEVIEW COMMERCE

 

Jennia Williamson
Senior Director, Product Strategy and Product Operations • OneView Commerce

In your experience, how has the practice of product management evolved over the last few years?

In the past few years, the technology space has seen significant changes caused by Covid-19 and volatile market conditions. Just like in many fields, the shift to remote working and the demands for digital transformation that came with it has placed considerable strain on existing product management processes. 

Companies that wanted to stay successful had to speed up their development cycles to quickly meet the demand for new features, services and products that could adapt to changing market conditions. 

As a result, agile methodologies have become increasingly common as companies have adopted more iterative ways of managing their products. The ripple effect of Covid-19 is quite fascinating, and we are still seeing its continued impact on business. For example, with faster reaction to market changes, user experience, user research and data analysis have become more critical in driving successful product launches. This resulted in product management roles becoming increasingly more strategic and important to a company’s success.

 

What kinds of technological or operational developments have driven or enabled those changes, and how has your team adopted them in your own work?

At OneView, we recognize that communication and collaboration are even more vital for successful product launches in a remote environment without a physical workplace to come together in. Our teams ensure that everyone has access to the same information and updates so they can remain on the same page throughout the entire development lifecycle. 

We encourage open dialogue during virtual meetings so everyone can voice their ideas and concerns without fear of judgment. This openness allows for better decision making since everyone can weigh in regardless of location or time zone. In addition, transparency promotes trust and camaraderie amongst team members, which is key to fostering a productive working environment in any setting. 

Thankfully, we now have access to new technologies that help us collaborate more effectively and streamline the entire product management process. We use tools like Asana, Slack, Roadmap.space, Figma and Maze that allow us to do many things remotely without needing to join too many calls or produce much documentation.

Thankfully, we now have access to new technologies that help us collaborate more effectively and streamline the entire product management process.”

 

How does your team empower and encourage product professionals to explore new technologies and practices? 

Our amazing people and culture team reminds us how employee self-development is essential for fostering an environment of growth and collaboration. We provide employees with resources and opportunities for learning, such as offering workshops and skill-development seminars. The people and culture team will launch a series of workshops called “Developing Yourself and Others.” 

We recognize that the product team must not only be able to work in an agile manner, but also provide its members with learning resources to stay ahead of the competition. Creating a supportive, educational atmosphere is critical for developing new skills and staying on top of the rapidly changing market. Viewers do not have to choose learning topics that directly relate to what we are doing now, but are meant to spark interest and empower employees to set personal goals, stay curious and be motivated to reach their full potential. 

Additionally, we launched a mentorship program at OneView, where mentors and mentees are matched based on personality and area of expertise. We believe that environment is everything — it must welcome open dialogue and encourage employees to take charge of their development.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Header image by LollyKat via Shutterstock. All other images via listed companies.

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