What is the role of product management in enterprise transformation?

Many businesses today are undergoing radical change. The driving factor is evolving customer expectations — increasing demand for personalized products, frictionless service, and dynamic support. To improve innovation and how customers are served requires a massive shift in thinking. This is different than simply managing projects and delivering new capabilities. Change at this scale is called an enterprise transformation because it fundamentally shifts the entire organization’s focus around delivering a Complete Product Experience (CPE).

While the concept of business transformation is not new, many companies are applying new technologies. They are focusing on selling solutions or bundled offerings instead of point products. These companies are leveraging data to better serve customers. Product managers are often at the center of enterprise transformations.

Why is product management critical to enterprise transformation?

Product managers are advocates for both the product and the customer. Planning and delivering new functionality is a cross-functional effort. Product managers often lead the team that manages the overall go-to-market process for both existing and new customers.

So it makes sense that product managers are primed to guide new customer experiences. You have a keen understanding of the market and your product's place within it. You also build and drive the product roadmap, which is arguably one of the most important tools in serving customers in a new way.

How do product managers support different types of enterprise transformation?

While every company is unique, there are three major areas of transformation: digital, solutions, and data. Your organization might lean more heavily towards one area over another based on your industry and offering.

Transformation type

Product management role

Digital transformation
New technology is often the first focus area for organizations looking to modernize how they deliver products and serve customers. Companies might replace legacy systems with cloud-based software. They may invest in new technology stacks to support infrastructure needed to reimagine existing products or launch new ones.

As part of the product planning process, product managers make decisions about long-term development investments in new technology or ways of serving customers. These decisions are rooted in an awareness of how the customer experiences every aspect of the product. New technology such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, or integrated systems can have deep-reaching impact on a product and provide customers with new experiences. For example, you might collaborate cross-functionally to understand a critical milestone during a prospective customer’s evaluation of your product. Working with sales and support, you may roll out a chat bot to help intercept customers at exactly the right moment to provide more value and encourage a purchase.

Solutions transformation
Many companies are shifting from selling specific features to selling the overall value to customers. Customers expect a holistic solution and a seamless buying experience, even if the company manages those products separately. This is a profound change that impacts every level of the organization — although sales, support, and marketing tend to be at the forefront.

In organizations that have grown through multiple acquisitions, teams may operate entirely independently from one another. For example, sales teams may be calling on the same customers or support teams may not be able to guide customers who are using multiple products. Teams may need to restructure. New incentives may need to be formulated to encourage better supporting customer acquisition regardless of product line. For product managers, you need to incorporate this holistic customer view into your strategic planning and investment choices. You may need to start thinking of your product as part of a broader ecosystem — or of transforming a product as a service to provide support and maintenance as an integrated offering. If you are building based on the technology or internal team structure instead of the value customers receive, then product management may need to be reorganized as well.

Data transformation
The data revolution is real and many companies are buried in it. Transformation in this area can take different forms. At the most basic level, companies will use data to analyze customer buying patterns and behavior in an effort to better understand the impact of what is being delivered. More sophisticated organizations may then package that data and resell it as a net-new product — either to customers or to a new market.

If you assume that data transformation is necessary, then you can assume that products were not initially built with data as a consideration — either the data gathered or data to be packaged and sold. In these scenarios, product managers will need to start identifying where they need to collect more information and how, as well as what success metrics will be used to determine performance going forward. As you improve your offerings, the data you gather will reveal insights into customer behaviors and preferences. In turn, product managers can use data to quickly iterate and deliver enhancements, as well as inform future product plans.

Where can product managers deliver the most value in an enterprise transformation?

Product managers sit at the center of everything product-related. This sounds obvious, but it is an important concept to reflect on when you think about where product managers can deliver real value during a major organizational change.

Enterprise transformation requires strategic planning, data awareness, and customer focus — areas where strong product managers excel. By keeping customers at the forefront of every conversation, product managers can take a leadership role that helps deliver both business and customer value.


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