What is a Platform Product Manager? Explanation, role, characteristics of a platform product manager, and FAQs.

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Platform Product Manager

A platform product manager is a product manager who leads a whole platform of products in a business organisation. 

It is one of the most crucial roles in product management. A platform product manager prioritizes and supports the work of different products. 

A Platform Product Manager manages support and development of big scale fundamental technologies like internet services and operating systems.

The platform product manager has more duties and responsibilities than the other product managers (PM)

Beyond this, the platform manager also engages with stakeholders and manages technical requirements and platforms.

Role of platform product manager

A platform product manager is one of the most challenging roles in product management. 

The platform product manager is focused on the business’s vision and requires collaboration with various different departments of the organization.

They have a significant share of powers and responsibilities. They can decide whether to proceed with every demand of stakeholders or to reject some of those to keep the project aligned with the core motives and vision of the company.

A typical Product Manager is more focused on the requirements of the target market and the betterment of the user experience

The Platform Product Manager works more on the overall company needs and product outcomes.

Characteristics of a good platform product manager

Here are the key characteristics of platform product management provided by industry experts and their comments on the various aspects of platform product management.

  1. Equip the different types of personas in the ecosystem: 
    Customers focus and empathy is just 
    as important as relevant in Platform 
    product management. Rather than 
    building platforms because it’s the 
    next cool thing to do, Platform product 
    managers should develop a laser focus 
    on what problems they are looking to 
    solve for their developers and partners.”
    Priya Lakshminarayanan, Sr. Dir, Head of Product, Facebook
  1. Protect the core interactions and enable the rest: 
    If a platform product strategy does not 
    incorporate a “Platform First approach” 
    with core interaction APIs and enablers, 
    it will be very difficult to scale across 
    multiple customer segments.
    Ramadurai Ramalingam, Managing Director, 
    Platform Engineering, Accenture
  1. Scale with public APIs while providing premium or secure access through private APIs
  1. Influence the microservices architecture: 
    A platform product manager has to 
    check the microservices support 
    structure. There is a need to get down 
    to the weeds of system architecture 
    in order to understand the DB table(s) 
    and what is exposed to the service.”
    Doug Summe, Platform Technologist, Staircase
  1. Strive for long-term sustainability versus short-term trade-offs: 
    A platform product manager 
    is different. There is no instant 
    gratification for the platform 
    product manager. They need 
    to be patient. Long-term 
    requirements are a tough sell and 
    can be influenced by discussing 
    potential total addressable market 
    (TAM) expansion and growth in 
    product lines
    Doug Summe, Platform Technologist, Staircase
  1. Emphasize future-proofing during platform updates: 
    Platform product managers 
    need to be able to drive long 
    term sustainability, scalability 
    & performance for “future 
    proofing” the platform.”
    Heather Conklin, VP Product Management – AppExchange, Salesforce
  1. Optimize by exploring the distinct platform monetization models: 
    Companies like Adobe & Netflix 
    currently do not directly monetize 
    the platforms. Platforms support 
    experiences – features are 
    developed to enable experiences. 
    so, monetization is still through 
    the application.”
    Ashley Still, Vice President/General Manager, Adobe Document Cloud and Adobe Creative Cloud Enterprise, Adobe
  1. Inspire the shift to a “platform first” culture: 
    In platform engineering, 
    we allow time for spiking 
    – researching and 
    investigating architecture 
    options before beginning 
    development sprints.”
    Heather Conklin, VP Product Management – AppExchange, Salesforce

FAQs

Q: What is the difference between a platform and a product?

A: Product is what you make and sell and platform is one that provides the medium or the infrastructure to build and sell that product. Platform addresses common problems of different aspects of a business. 

Q: What work does a platform manager do? 

A: It works on improvement of platform features, management of APIs in collaboration with engineers. A platform product manager supervises and oversees the development of the whole platform of products in a company.

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