Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Product Management as a discipline commenced nearly 90 years ago and continues to evolve. Originally it was focussed on market communication to the customer, including product positioning and advertising, packaging, pricing, and promotion, leaving product development to the lab and the plant. However, as this discipline has evolved, product management and development have become strategically linked, especially in the technology space.

Over the past three decades, India has seen a dramatic growth in the creation of impactful technology teams. This has extended the depth and breadth of technology capability for global and local firms that can draw upon the proven expertise, skills and capabilities of multi-dimensional engineering talent in India. The next step in this evolution is strengthening product management capabilities in India with an intent to bring together global product teams and engineering teams.

Building great products is hard work and even more so in current times of increasing complexity, changing business dynamics and steeply rising customer expectations. Consumers have unrelenting expectations for superior experiences, new features, frequent improvements, and regular upgrades. Bringing product management and engineering functions together is a powerful proposition to fast-track implementation of product strategy and digital delivery of integrated products that enable end-to end-customer journeys.

There are a number of reasons why now is the time to build out product management capabilities in India:

Growing Talent Pools: Several global organizations are building product organizations in India with end-to-end ownership. This in turn offers them additional capacity, speed to market and access to local talent. As a result, India’s product management talent market is growing quickly in the same way the technology talent market has over the past few decades. The start-up entrepreneurship boom that we are witnessing in India has also fueled growth of product management talent in India.

Leading Digital Transformation: India has emerged as a leader in many areas of digital transformation, such as UPI (Unified Payment Interface) in the payments industry and Aadhar (setting standards for global digital solutions and creating an ecosystem of product innovation around them. This again is a catalyst for strengthening the product management ecosystem.

Borderless Geographies: In early years, a lack of physical proximity to the customer, market and time zone was seen as a constraint in most global organizations. With global capability centers now having evolved into strategic technology and innovation hubs for global firms, operating and engagement models have evolved to address such constraints when supporting global product management and global roles. In a highly connected world, these constraints are fading.

Building a Symbiotic Partnership: Product management and software engineering teams have the opportunity to build and strengthen their partnership. When product management teams have a closer understanding of the possibilities and constraints of technology, they can develop deeper insights to inform their product strategy. For engineering teams, a richer understanding of the market and client context provides a strong foundation for their development strategy, enhancing their ability to get things right the first time and therefore speed time to market.

Evolving Role of Product Managers: As per a McKinsey article published in 2017, a product manager wears multiple hats and leverages a broad knowledge base to make trade-off decisions and bring together cross-functional teams while ensuring alignment between diverse functions. A successful product management framework is well balanced when driven by changes in technology and development methodologies on one hand and consumer expectations and behaviors on the other.

Product managers can play integral roles in influencing and leading teams by shepherding products from planning to development to launch and beyond. This potentially provides additional career paths for engineers with a passion and the right skills for product management. The spur for innovation that a well-oiled product management function can deliver is significant and the impact for product success and client satisfaction cannot be overstated. This approach also has the potential to create a new breed of tech savvy product managers who bring transformational change to the business ecosystem.

We are at the cusp of seeing a boom in building global product capability in India. The opportunity to build extended product teams in India, close to the software engineering teams, while staying closely connected to the core product teams in the home location is here. We are witnessing organizations successfully executing this collaborative model while reaping the benefits of delivering better quality and speed to market, addressing client concerns and needs more quickly, and most importantly, delivering a better experience for clients and teams alike.

 

Authored by

Gopakumar Subramonian, Senior Vice President, Fiserv.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members