What Is Digital Product Management?
Digital product management is the process of conceptualizing, planning, developing, and selling a digital software product used for desktop and mobile devices.
Examples of digital software products include all mobile apps, websites, programming packages, and operating systems.
There are several types of digital software products. For example:
- Operating system products, such as macOS, Linux, and Windows, serve as bases for all digital products. Such products form a fundamental link between the device hardware and digital products.
- OS is the connection between the device and the application. Hence, a product designed for one OS may not be compatible with another. It will need to be modified based on the new OS’s structure and perhaps even the coding language.
- For instance, an Apple OS-based digital mobile app won’t be compatible with another OS like Android. It would be best to modify it for successful store upload, download, and run-time.
- On-device application products, such as Microsoft Word and spreadsheets, can be used as long as you install the product on the device.
- Cloud products like websites need a browser to access the web products and various mobile apps. They need an internet connection to work as most of the functionality is hosted online. You can only download the client-side of the app on the device.
Successful digital product management requires alignment across the following key components:
- Conducting market research and forecasting to assess demand.
- Competitor landscaping to understand existing product capabilities and price points.
- Budgeting and resource allocation for technologies and human talent
- Product team formation through hiring or grouping of existing employees.
- Actual product development based on user interface design for optimal product-use experience.
- Go-to-market strategy to meet revenue targets.
What Is a Digital Product Manager?
We know that a product manager’s job is to create products that align with people’s liking, and they would make a purchase.
Similarly, a digital product manager does the same thing but in a digital space.
Overall, a digital product manager is responsible for the ideation, development, managing market delivery, and so on.
What Is a Digital Transformation of Product Management?
These products need not be new ones. Instead, they could be a well-established product transformed to fit in the digital space through digital products.
For example, new digital products could be smartphones and tablets, USB devices, and many more.
The digital transformation of product management was born in software and technology companies such as Amazon and Facebook.
This digital transformation of product management is rapidly growing due to most online and digital products. Hence, there’s an increase in the demand for digital product managers who can handle these responsibilities.
The job opportunities for a digital product manager will rise to 8% between the years 2018-2028. It will create 21,800 jobs in the US alone.
What Are the Skills a Digital Product Manager Should Possess?
As discussed earlier, the responsibilities of a product manager are similar to that of the digital product manager. The only exception is that the latter works in a digital environment.
Of course, the skills will also match. So let’s divide this into two categories:
Expected skills: Skills that are a must in both the digital product managers role, as well as the product managers role are as follows:
Strategic Thinking Along With Business Understanding
Having a deeper understanding of the business field you are working in will help you as a product manager (digital included). It will also help you make product choices based on its values and vision.
Team Management and Prioritization
Product managers have a lot of daily tasks on their table. Assigning these tasks to the team members and delegating them requires the right balance of team management, performance measurement, and mentoring.
Most of the time, product managers need to work with minimal resources and time. It requires prioritizing the work efficiently, with whatever resources are available at hand.
Excellent Research and Negotiation Skills
To build and improvise on the physical or digital products, the one skill that outstands the others is research and analytical skills.
Negotiation skills will help product managers deal with stakeholders and team members with varying interests and ideas. To convince them that it all boils down to one factor, customer satisfaction, will require good negotiation skills.
Take a Rapid Iterative Approach
Bringing new digital products into the market and updating those products will help the company stay ahead of competitors. You can adopt agile principles and create good quality products/experiences for customers and businesses.
Create a Good Product Experience
The main components of any mobile app or software product are its interface and user experience (UX).
These two components are the pillars of any digital product, and if this foundation collapses, everything else will crumble.
Hence, if you are a digital product manager or planning to become one, ensure expertise with the UX.
You can create the best possible experience for the customers.
Track Usage Data
Product managers who look after the physical products may not track the user data easily.
But digital product managers have the upper hand when it comes to keeping track of the features that customers like or don’t like.
It is possible because the digital space gives the data in SEO or any analytics.
Hence, it is a given that digital product managers must be skilled in understanding these product analysis. Then, they should incorporate them into the new or existing digital products.
How To Become a Good Digital Product Manager?
Before diving into the good qualities of a digital product manager, let’s see how to become a digital product manager.
Most digital product managers come with either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.
Having a high school or a diploma certification will not be sufficient for working as a digital product manager. However, if the company sees some experience, talent, and trust in your abilities, you can get selected.
Digital product managers may also transition to this role after working as project or account executives.
Besides, understanding coding, programming, designing, and SEO optimization can go a long way. Having a marketing and economics degree can also be helpful.
Some of the skills that set an excellent digital product manager apart from the others are as follows:
Design thinking, coming up with solutions at times, and so on. will require creativity at its maximum.
Top Planning and Organizational Skills
Digital product managers will work across teams in the organization. Having excellent planning and organizational skills will make working with cross-functional teams smooth.
Not Just Reactive but Proactive as Well
Great product managers don’t just react to the complex situations that come up daily. But they also are proactive and can keep an eye out for whatever problem that may crop up.
They also are excellent at navigating through solutions without moving the end goals. They successfully deliver the product on time.
Planning and strategizing for the end goal is all good. But an intelligent digital product manager is a futurist.
They can figure out the trends that might be popular in the future and grab the opportunities sooner.
What Are the Best Practices To Develop a Successful Digital Product Management Strategy?
Digital product management requires understanding the product development technologies and the user’s experience.
It also involves marketing and sales strategies to make the product successful.
Below are five essential best practices to use in your digital product management strategy:
Iterative and Agile Product Development
Digital product development methodologies have evolved to become more agile and iterative.
It has proven successful in revenue generation and leaves room for customer feedback for additional feature developments.
Iterative programming methods focus on developing the product in smaller iterations, also known as sprints.
These sprints carry a slice of the actual product. Each sprint improves upon the current stage of the product.
Product managers prefer iterative methods and metrics like kanban. They allow time for evaluation and feedback rather than deploying the full product functionality at once. It used to be the case with older models like spiral or waterfall.
Align Your Team Around User Needs
A digital product’s user/customer is the ultimate judge and jury. Customer and user-centricity is no longer just a theory.
The products that know the users’ needs will outperform those created to meet business goals solely.
User-centric digital product development requires user research and input in the development stages. It helps understand the best-suited design/ layout for the product.
Digital products should be fully DIY. It means feature navigation, interface intuitiveness, and usability experience are critical areas for a successful digital product.
Marketing Channel Prioritization Based on the Success
A digital product manager may not need to become a marketing manager. However, they need to understand, identify, and give their opinion on the proper priority channels for budget spending.
For example, suppose the previous ad spending test on social media proved a tremendous success with a specific set of ads. In that case, the product manager needs to consult with the marketing manager and amplify it.
Similarly, suppose an article starts ranking on Google. In that case, the product manager should have the capability to invest more in such pieces and grow its success.
The marketing team will do the actual execution of content and delivery across the channels. However, how to spend the product marketing budget must be prioritized based on the success of previous campaigns.
Cross-product Collaboration To Fill Knowledge Gaps
A company may have multiple digital products and multiple managers to handle each. However, essential knowledge gained from the successful go-to-market strategy may remain and operate in a silo.
The goal for the company’s leadership and the digit product managers should be to identify knowledge gaps and challenges. These may be filled through cross-product collaboration and cross-team learning.
Aim for Time-bound Outcomes Over Output
Managers responsible for digital product lines often need to work cross-functionally independent teams and departments. It requires the management of employees who may not directly report to them.
The best way to promote individual accountability and ownership is to be more outcome-oriented in such situations. For instance, if you are managing the output of these members, it isn’t going to work out.
Suppose a digital product manager needs to update the product page information on the website managed by the marketing team. In that case, the marketing manager must set a final date for the content update.
The marketing manager can then be responsible for coordinating the actual delivery of the outcome needed on the website.
A great digital product manager comes with a clear vision and technical abilities. They use the best product management practices and capitalize on the opportunities as they come.
A digital product manager handles creating and launching a distribution plan, overseeing the product lifecycle, and working with various teams.
They also are great visionaries and have excellent soft skills. These help them bring a digital product to life and into the shelf of the customers.
So if you are someone who has digital product manager skills and is passionate about technology, then this role is perfect for you.