I am

Product
manager

PRODUCT MANAGERS SHOULD BE MARKETING PEOPLE, NOT TECH WIZARDS.

I am

Product
manager

PRODUCT MANAGERS SHOULD BE MARKETING PEOPLE, NOT TECH WIZARDS.

Product managers translate client needs into product specs, not the other way around. And, there is more. In I4.0, needs are needs for value. Not needs for product characteristics.

Client needs are often described as a set of characteristics. Certain things a product should do, that clients are supposed to need. The issue is, clients need value. And value is not a characteristic of your offering. It is the impact your offering has on the business and organization of the client that makes the main difference. Product managers should be thinking about, dreaming of, and living for the impact at the client side. That’s why product managers are the most important marketing resource of a company. In some companies, we even advised to make the product manager a direct report to the CEO – it is that important.

In Industry 4.0 this importance increases. Platform providers as well as your existing ánd new competitors, can get new offerings to the market in no time and without capex investments. Products are servitized and offered in SaaS formulas with a success pricing, that is only about client value. If you want to compete in this new arena, or be the first to capture that piece of the pie, it is the most important job of the product manager to understand the value a client might need, and create an offering that captures the most important part of that value, with minimal effort.

START REVOLUTIONIZING A SIDE MARKET FIRST

Of course, being the product manager and not the big boss, you often do not have the authority to change the company fundamentally overnight, unless you are getting your innovation assignment from a strategic exercise in which the executive team or the board have explicitly defined the company purpose and strategic client value. Even in that case, be aware that there are also trend buyers and laggards among on your market. Such less-innovative buyers might not want to order your revolutionary offering right away. That is why we’d advise you to test-drive revolutions on a side market first. Do not pick a totally new distinct side market, but select a non-core market in which your company has a few references with some open-minded accounts, as well as an account manager who dares (or has the luxury) to take some risks. That’s where you can experiment without disrupting the mainstream business. That’s where you learn to get big results with small efforts. That’s where you do not need to get a big budget approval from your top management. If that first exercise is successful, then start spreading the news and inspire the rest of the company.

See you on the other side of the I4.0 storm!

Jan Lagast is managing partner of Forte, European specialists in industrial sales & marketing 4.0. Forte offers career and team mentoring for sales & marketing managers, executive education to enlighten their bosses, and help communications managers create strong industrial brands that are real ecosystem-magnets. Forte boosts your readiness for the commercial side of industry 4.0.