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How are those 2023 predictions working out?
As we're rounding out Q4, we take a look at some predictions made about the product space to see how they're going so far.
I don’t know about you all, but when I start to round the corner and see the end of the year in sight one part of me wants to check out for a month, watch Christmas Vacation a dozen times, and start refreshed in the new year.
The part that wins out, however, is the one that spends weeks thinking about the goals and aspirations I have for myself in the following year.
As I was re-poking at some articles I saw popup at the beginning of the year, I thought about how much content I was consuming around the product space leading into the near year and how much it helped shape what I’ve been doing over the past 10 months.
One of the particular articles posted by a leader in the product space, ProductBoard, posted an interesting blog titled, “The product management trends we at ProductBoard expect to define the next year.”
I know we’re not quite at the end of the year, but I wanted to re-visit some of these predictions to see how they’ve turned out so far and give a take on whether we should keep our hopes up or ditch them for our 2024 dreams.
Trend #1: Product managers focus on working smarter and more efficiently
Prediction: In 2023, product managers face tighter budgets and economic uncertainty. This means they must be more efficient and prioritize revenue and ROI over experimentation. Product managers must communicate more effectively, collaborate across functions, prioritize projects wisely, and stay focused on their top-level goals to succeed in this environment.
Our take: The ChatGPT’s and Bard’s of the world bursting into the scene early this year really expedited the need for product folks to bake this into our day-to-day.
Based on what I have seen in the market, most companies are still deciding what they are okay with using AI for and because of this, many of us are finding the need to skill up in the space to ensure we have job stability.
Prediction Grade: A
Trend #2: A fresh take on customer-centricity is needed
Prediction: The focus in 2023 will be on improving customer satisfaction, as only 36% of respondents in the 2022 Product Excellence Report felt confident about the reception of their products. Product teams are advised to aim to be essential for at least one customer group and return to ideal customer profiles. When in doubt, engage in more product discovery to align product features with customer needs.
Our take: I think many of us realize how important customer-centricity is. We have seen countless posts and books about how organizations like Amazon leverage this to grow. However, many product people I work with still find themselves in a “business stakeholders know best scenario” where shaking them from the old way of doing work (aka do what we say) can be hard.
Hopefully, the growing benefits of product people continue to be realized in legacy organizations and we can see more products available in the market grow in their customer-centricity.
Prediction Grade: B
Trend #3: Overcoming lack of clarity around product vision and strategy will be a key focus
Prediction: Clear product vision and strategy were challenging in 2022, and this challenge continues in 2023 amid economic uncertainty. Product leaders must distinguish between strategy and plans, focusing on the former, which includes customer pain points, differentiation from competitors, key bets, and investment allocation. A clear strategy is essential for long-term success.
Our take: Having worked in the small, medium, and large business world over the past few years, I can honestly say that this is still split based on what I read from others. Buckling down on a long-term vision to build towards when most industries seem to have a need to be incredibly fluid can be difficult. It’s idealistic but in practice can be hit or miss.
Prediction Grade: C
Trend #4: Product teams prioritize hybrid collaboration
Prediction: While remote work gained traction during the pandemic, Productboard CEO Hubert Palan believes in-person collaboration is crucial for trust and innovation. In 2023, product teams are expected to find a balance between remote and in-person work, strategically choosing when to come together to foster creativity and critical discussions.
Our take: I’ve had a consistent number of articles talking about how the largest companies in the world continue to press their team members to get in-person full-time. I think there are benefits of meeting, but I believe that not every organization needs to be in person constantly - especially for how most dev teams work.
2024 will be very interesting to see how these expectations get shaped as there’s a growing number of people displaced from their jobs due to the economy who may feel the only option they have is to follow their company's lead due to a lack of other options.
Prediction Grade: C+
Trend #5: Getting product management systems and processes in place is more crucial than ever
Prediction: The 2022 Product Excellence Report indicates low confidence in product management systems and processes. In 2023, with a focus on efficiency, teams must prioritize aligning stakeholders around a shared plan and improving product feedback capture, defining product strategy, prioritizing features, and enhancing communication to save time and resources.
Our take: Turnover and a constant in-flow of new leadership across the stakeholder landscape for many companies has impacted this as a priority. Often, new leaders coming into an org see an opportunity to implement a tool or process that worked in a past life and try to get it added to the new org.
However, constantly changing the tools and systems being used can drain teams and team members because it leaves us all feeling limbo about how we’re managing work. With the growing number of products made available combined with all the AI things, I’m not sure this one every truly gets the love it deserves.
Prediction Grade: C
Trend #6: The PM role remains critical despite economic uncertainty
Prediction: Product management roles remain in demand despite economic ups and downs. Companies are hiring more product managers, and the role remains among the highest-paying in the tech industry. Even during layoffs, tech workers, including product managers, are likely to find new job opportunities.
Our take: Based on my answer above, I think there’s an increasing need for seasoned product people to prop up the benefits they add to the orgs they work in. Some specific skill sets don’t get solved by leveraging things such as - I don’t know - a business user dictating UI design.
First, ensuring your current company appreciates product is a priority. Secondly, making sure you can explain the value you add to your company and future prospects is critical at a time in the industry like we are in.
Prediction Grade: B
I think the big winner this year has been the tools we now have at our disposal to get more work done through AI (or however you want to identify the tech). However, with so many markets in turmoil to round out the year, there’s a huge opportunity for us product folks to continue to reiterate the value we add, find ways to boost customer-centricity in our companies and to further align our leadership teams on the need for North Star goals to build towards.
Do you have a take on these predictions based on your own experiences? We would love to hear about them!
Click the button below and let us know what you’re experiencing in your company (or industry)!
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