Product Management in 2021: Skills That Will Matter

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Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

“Get out of the building” – this quote by Steve Blank has inspired many founders and product leaders to go out and test their product in the real world.

But then, Covid happened and everything we knew or believed in about building great businesses went through its own transformation.

2021 is going to be a crucial year for makers. Two tailwinds of significance:

  • Economy, hopefully, will be bouncing back.
  • A lot MANY businesses will go digital (more than we could have ever imagined).

What will these translate into? New food chains. New processes. New use-cases. New customer base. New constraints (including geopolitical requirements).

As everything around us evolves, the product management role will get to play a crucial role in shaping up the new (digital) world.

Here are a few areas that will go through massive transformation and will call for new leaders.

Note that the core product management skills, i.e.empathy, customer centricity continues to be the important elements of the PM role, but in order to avoid yada yada gyaawn, let’s focus on the actionable new skills which will truly differentiate the great product managers from average ones, given the tailwinds.

NoCode + API Product Management

A lot of software is already written.

It’s time to stitch them together and I believe, NoCode Product Management is going to be a crucial role in enabling businesses to go digital.

By NoCode, I don’t mean ’embedding Substack newsletter code on your Webflow’ website, but instead the ability to connect disparate systems at enterprise level – be it for a small shop owner to a large corporate house.

Take any business usecase, like HR – a small shop owner would now expect employee attendance system based on location. A simple NoCode (or Low-code) app can do the trick, given the shopkeeper’s propensity to pay for such a ‘small’ usecase.

If API is what you eat for breakfast, you have a healthy 2021 ahead.

Community + Product Management

people forming round by shoes

Like NoCode, Community is an overused and jargonised word.

Everybody who has built an audience base is now claiming to have built a community (FYI, audience ≠ Community).

With product-led growth (one more buzzword) occupying the top of the “conversation” funnel these days, the truth is that it’s difficult to scale a product led business from 1-N, without either heavy duty funding of which majority goes into growth marketing (which then begets the basic question – where is the product led growth?) or building the community, which intersects between UX, product and growth enabling not just scalable customer acquisition channel, but also a great engagement platform.

The community product role, is ideal for products where community is baked inside (and isn’t outside) the product.

A lot of consumer and SAAS businesses are already realizing this and are baking the community inside the product. Ability to marry the two will be a killer role in the coming years.


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Data / Machine Learning Product Management.

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Companies are now sitting on top of data. A lot of it.

If you go by the ‘data is the new oil’ quote, I’d rather say we need more refined and edible oil than just oil.

The future would definitely belong to the ones who take data for date, i.e. machine learning product managers, especially the ones who bring clarity to the table.

It’s time to build global product companies and brands across different sectors and if you want to stay ahead in the game, go ahead and apply for FWD app invite. FWD app enables you to acquire industry-ready skills of your choice without burning a hole in your pocket.

After all, if your product problem isn’t complex enough and can be solved by heuristic-based methods, why would you need ML?

Do you have the ability to understand data, how it grows, how the response is fed into the product is going to differentiate the average-I-want-do-ML PM to the Let’s-build-great-data-driven-products PMs.

Remote Product Management

woman having a video call

You can’t have a water cooler conversation.

You can’t just ping your engineering colleague and discuss a potential showstopper.

Most importantly, can’t ‘go out’ and interview customers, collect feedback and do UX research.

Remote product management is reshaping how we build products and the PMs who can adapt to this will thrive in the post-Covid world.

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