By Vikas Gupta, MD, Wiley India
The need to drive technological innovation for competitive advantage has led to an increase in demand for effective product management.According to Glassdoor, other jobs have increased in demand by a steady 6.6% in the last two years however, product manager roles have increased by 32%. Despite the prevalence of technical talent that the country generates each year, it faces a significant skill gap in product managers. The product failure rates for start-ups in India vary from 35 to 95 percent, as many businesses are unable to develop products while keeping customers in mind. In addition, the rise in SaaS, agile and lean models have increased the demand to respond successfully to meet the needs of consumers and drive customer engagement and recurring revenue growth.
Currently, India lacks a product culture, with areas like product management, product marketing, and product success being rather underdeveloped. Although India’s IT services industry has been at the forefront for years, the country’s IT product industry is just a small fraction of the country’s IT market share.However, the emergence of startups and government’s ambitious initiatives like ‘Make in India’is certainlybut slowly changing the situation.
Let ‘s delve deeper into the roadblocks and skills that modern product managers need to compete successfully globally.
Project Management over Product Management: Being a service-oriented country, a project manager role in India holds more prominence than a product manager role. This mindset shrinks the pipeline for companies looking to hire top talent for product management. The dearth of product management talent has intensified so much that companies are willing to pay product leaders 3X the salaries they pay to project managers.
Job Security over innovation: The other factor why entry level candidates prefer job securitythat comes with IT services and maintenance related careers over product-oriented career roles that require an innovative, risk-handling mindset.
Gaps in thehigher education:The university model has remained invariably same over the years; operating as a well-regulated institution, with a structured and consistent approach towards curriculum development and pedagogy, academics, and overall governance. As we have entered the fourth industrial revolution, it is time for universities to leave the archaic framework behind and ushered in one that’s integrated and inclusive. This calls for curriculum transformation and collaborative partnerships to meet the demands of a technologically inclined society as well as learners.
In addition to the above impediments, another key aspect is also being questioned – what skills do new age product managers need?
Contemporary-day product managers are much like mini-CEOs – they must be able to lead the product lifecycle from conception, ideation and implementation to post-production performance – all while managing associated people and processes.
Strategic Thinking: It encompasses the capability to visualize products and deliver its effective implementation to ignite customer’s interest. Design thinking and creativity are the vital tenets of product thinking. It begins with a profound understanding of sales, marketing, service and manufacturing techniques to be able to connect them all together and build a successful product.
Analytical & Resourceful: It’s about researching and evaluating data in order to make the best product decisions with profit in mind. This is a data-driven ability rather than relying on instinct or on an initial reaction. A product manager with strong analytical experience knows how to use data to break down statistics and create strategies for market planning, product growth and pricing outlook.
Product engineering:This goes without saying that product managers must have the strong technical know-how of the multiple platforms, processes, technologies and devices currently available.
How can organisations get skilled product managers?
India will need double the number of product managers it currently has, with IT, telecom, and retail sectors being the three most leadingdemand drivers. Indian firms have now started to realize the importance of hiring good product managers for efficient product planning as well as product and customer success.
To ensure skilled product managers, companies need to tailor their recruiting strategies and, at the same time, upskill or re-skill their current workforce.As the relevant skills and employability model changes in accordance with the needs of today’s industry, the learning paradigm needs to shift from conceptual learning to contextual learning.
Fortunately, the surge in adoption of online and blended learning has provided both employees and employers a platform to bridge the skills gap with job role mapped, professional certification programmes.India’sbooming $1.9bn ed-tech industry in 2020 have made online education the most relevant platform to upskill in emerging technology areas for future-proofing one’s job, while bridge-education becomes important for high-school pass-outs and recent graduates to become industry-ready.