More than ever, organizations are relying on digital initiatives as a key driver of growth. These include digital offerings that are used by customers as well as those leveraged by an organization’s employees. The results of Forrester’s Digital Business Strategy Survey, 2022, show that 68% of digital strategy professionals believe digital strategies have a major impact on or are a primary driver of growth.
It’s clear that digital offerings need digital product managers to ensure their success. But at many organizations, there’s a lack of clarity on what responsibilities these product managers should perform. The truth is, a digital product manager must practice the same activities as those of a traditional product manager — such as managing the vision, strategy, and roadmap of existing offerings and launching new offerings. However, digital products require the use of data for business growth, leverage emerging technologies, have new channels and touchpoints, and move through product journeys that evolve more rapidly than traditional products. This means that digital product managers must be super data-driven and continuously collaborate with and learn from customers.
Therefore, product leaders must reinforce a set of key attributes when nurturing a digital product management function. Innovation is one of these key attributes.
The Innovative Digital Product Manager
Digital product managers should be innovative. But what exactly does that mean? There are some tenets of an innovative quality and skill set:
- Ready for change. The innovative digital product manager expects and is ready for change. The role works with the broader product team to identify change long before it occurs and develop strategies for offering adoption and growth.
- Look beyond the ordinary. The innovative digital product manager inspires the team to look beyond the company, market, and industry they are focused on for new ideas and partnerships — and encourages an openness to different ways of thinking.
- Investigate ideas safely. The innovative digital product manager leads the product team to experiment with potential ideas, while responsibly managing risk and protecting the customer and the company. Failure is ok, so long as it is not realized in a commercial setting.
Digital and business leaders have cited important skill sets that drive the above tenets within a digital product management team. These include active learning, learning strategies, complex problem-solving, creativity, originality, reasoning, and ideation.
Foster Innovation Within Your Digital Product Management Team
What can product leaders do to help their digital product managers become more innovative? Consider the following across three core elements of successful digital offering strategies:
- Culture. Lead a culture of discovery, in which failure is not only accepted but expected. Encourage the discovery of new opportunities and solutions through customer engagement and experimentation.
- Practice. Clear and aligned practices ensure the product team can accomplish product lifecycle activities (e.g., continuous discovery) while safeguarding customer privacy and inclusive experiences.
- Resources. Tools and technology support the deep understanding of customer feedback in context and help digital product managers determine how offerings are being used.
Innovation is a key attribute of digital product managers, one that is necessary to ensure digital offerings remain unique in enabling customer outcomes and value. Product leaders should evaluate how well this attribute is harnessed within the digital product management team and define upskilling strategies that develop this quality.
Join us at this year’s B2B Summit North America, June 5–7 in Austin, Texas, and digitally, to hear more about the keys to digital product management success.