The Growing Demand for Product Management

How to effectively hire Digital Product Management
Lionseye insights from AC Lion

There is a growing demand for product management talent because there are so many digital companies that have never existed before.

Industries adopting and leveraging new technologies such as Retail / Direct to Consumer, Automotive, Manufacturing, Financial Services and Healthcare, have created a demand for innovative product managers who bring both industry experience as well as an understanding of new technologies; how their products will best be marketed, sold and experienced by their end users and customers.

Where historically there was no need for this kind of talent, there is a booming demand as these companies have been ‘digitally’ transformed.  The demand for product managers is growing exponentially, with a supply of skills that does not meet the demand.

Executives and Senior Leaders of innovative digital businesses know that to be an excellent product manager demands talent that can solve complex problems. Traditionally, product managers were generalists who are adept at solving problems and could plug and play in almost any company if they were talented. While the business problems are becoming more complex, the supply of specific product management skills and experience has become scarce.

The Result…

…is a product management talent shortage.

Companies looking for talent from their competitors can be an effective tactic, but it comes with a high price tag.

A recent case study by Alpha explains that, at the core, product managers are jacks-of-all-trades who, out of necessity, must interact with people at all levels of the organization. Product management talent must fit seamlessly into company culture in order to be most successful.

In addition to cultural fit, recruiting product management talent demands that employers look for the following key skill sets:

• Technical skills
• Business and Marketing know-how
• Management and Communication expertise
• Strategic Thinking

Product managers, when most effective, are true partners in the business. Their day-to-day interactions span the breadth of the organization in which they work, and their performance is often directly tied to profitability.

So what is the solution?

Step 1: Determine the Product Manager Archetype That You Need for Your Problem

We can all accept that it is no longer a world where any product manager can solve any problem. A product manager with an extensive editorial and design background, who has spent their career focused on building audience engagement, is likely not the best person to help build a marketing automation platform.

However, there are candidates who bring industry, technical, communication and leadership skills who may not have been in the role or in your industry but who do bring a plethora of skills that are immediately transferable and applicable and who could certainly fill your talent needs.

What are the different product manager archetypes:

The Many Different Types of Product Managers

Product Managers As Mini-CEOs

McKinsey reports that “Product managers are the glue that bind the many functions that touch a product—engineering, design, customer success, sales, marketing, operations, finance, legal, and more. They not only own the decisions about what gets built but also influence every aspect of how it gets built and launched. Unlike product managers of the past, who were primarily focused on execution and were measured by the on-time delivery of engineering projects, the product manager of today is increasingly the “mini-CEO of the product.”

Growth Oriented Product Managers

These roles are focused on marketing and hooks built in the product in order to acquire new users.

Product Managers As User Advocates

These folks are UX / UI and design-oriented. For these product managers it is all about the user experience, product ease of use, and workflow.

Technical Product Managers

These product managers have come out of a development background and have a deep understanding of technology.

Product Managers As Data Scientist Guru

Increasingly product managers are tasked with being adept at applying machine-learning concepts. Companies have large data stores needed to make strategic decisions on how their product is performing and where the next opportunity lies. Product Managers are having to become analytics gurus, central to managing a technology based solution such as IBM’s Watson where machine learning / AI is being employed.

Step 2: Figure Out the Common Denominator

The obvious place to look is from competitors, but that list is finite and, in some spaces, very short.  Finding adjacencies between your problem and similar problems other industries have solved, can and does work well. (e.g., for  a Healthech company seeking someone who has experience with the software development life cycle and UI/UX, we found someone in Edtech who had both). Expand your search to other markets where there may be more talent.

You may want to use a knowledgeable, experienced Recruiting Partner

A recruiting firm specializing in Product Talent will work across multiple industries and understand the similarities among the different types of industries and the problems that they are solving. This cross-industry expertise is invaluable. This allows you to shed the myopic view of trying to recruit talent exclusively from your own industry.

Let AC Lion help you with everything from narrowing your job description to delivering a robust talent pool that meets your specific criteria. Let us find you the people who have the right skills and background, and who are proven to deliver.

Looking for a great Product Manager? Let’s get started!

Find your next digital talent hire with AC Lion

Alan Cutter

Alan Cutter founded New York City's premier digital media recruiting agency, AC Lion International, more than 20 years ago and continues to lead the growing company as their fearless CEO.