Forrester colleague Oliver Young left last week to join Jive as a product manager. Oliver is a big music fan with eclectic tastes, so I thought I'd put together, in his honor, the product management/marketing playlist. If you were to make a musical version of what it's like to be a tech PM, here's what you'd put into the soundtrack. (Suggestions for additions welcome.)
Two of my research documents just went live on the Forrester web site:
Wargaming for business leaders. Not the same as the kind of serious gaming that colleague TJ Keitt and I have discussed before, wargames are a more structured exercise that try to simulate possible business outcomes. The output is different than serious games, role-playing exercises, and other game-like tools. For example, in many cases, the goal is to help make smarter company-level decisions, not just product-level ones.
Product management/marketing during the recession. A very short document that points to other research that we've done about the recesssion, and then puts it into context for PMs. What changes do PMs need to make in product strategy and positioning? Which markets are likely to bounce back first, and what do you need to know about them?
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had done some very interesting research on best practices for the people who run product management and product marketing organizations. Since we did the research for the Forrester Leadership Board (FLB) for that role, we couldn't share the final results beyond the FLB members themselves.
Good news: we have an excerpt available at this link (registration required to access it). We've anonymized the people we profiled, but their names and companies aren't the important details.
By choosing highly successful heads of PM teams, we got a glimpse into the future of PM. The thumbnail sketch of that picture: the profession is getting more clearly defined, because it is increasingly strategic. The PM role is making simultaneous progress as a profession, art, discipline, and the group with the broadest and deepest insight into the state of the overall business.
Big thanks to Steve Davidson for doing a lot of the work that made this excerpt possible. Steve is runs the FLB program for Technology Product Management (TPM) professionals.
For people in product management and product marketing, organizational questions—for example, Where should we report? What specializations of the PM role seem to work?—are always high on the list of hot topics. That statement is true of this week's Heretech podcast, to be posted later today, in which Saeed Khan and I spend a good deal of the interview discussing these issues. It's also true of the research that I do, including a recent study that revealed some interesting results about the relationship between product management and product marketing.
I've worked on both SaaS products and on-premise ones. While the challenges may be different, I was never at a loss for things to do in product management and product marketing. In fact, some of these tasks became more challenging, not less so, in a SaaS world.
Which makes me wonder, why on earth would someone who purports to be an expert on SaaS say that PM is not necessary in SaaS applications? To get my complete reaction to this recent post on SaaS University's house blog, click here.
Most aficianados of social media emphasize the customer-facing applications of these technologies. By now, we've all heard interesting stories about how Marketing used blogs to get the message out, Sales used forum postings to help qualify leads, and Support used Twitter to respond to users wrestling with technical problems.
Exciting, new-frontierish stuff, to be sure, but you hear far less about Development's social media strategy. What about the "inbound" applications of social media?
That question was my inspiration for what turned into a three-part series on "inbound social media." The first research document appeared today (Forrester subscription required to read the whole enchilada). The second and third parts are coming shortly.
A lot of development teams are skeptical about their company's investment in social media. Frankly, they don't see what's in it for them. Worse, it threatens to be a distraction from their mission to execute, execute, execute.
You just got out of the meeting with potential customers, and they're not big fans of your Big Idea. You were sure it was brilliant, but they just don't get it. Or they applaud the effort, but they think you're going approaching it from the wrong angle.
Here's the moment of truth when many projects go bad, and sometimes drag companies down with them. The crisis isn't unique to the technology industry--there's the cautionary tale of New Coke, after all, from a well-established industry that should have known better--but given the immaturity of the technology industry, and the plasticity of the work product, it happens quite often.
At this moment of truth, development teams choose from among the following responses:
Here's just the sort of diagram that you might find in a book about product management. Or maybe it could be something that the VP of Product Management presents to other groups in the company, to explain the PM team's strategy for understanding customer requirements.
OK, I lied. It's not a diagram from a product management or product marketing presentation. Here's the real version of the diagram, which comes from an article in the Small Wars Journal, the magazine for people in the business of fighting guerrillas and terrorists. The article's title is a bit of a mouthful: Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Collection Management in the Brigade Combat Team during COIN: Three Assumptions and Ten "A-Ha!" Moments on the Path to Battlefield Awareness.