How do Product Managers Keep up with Technology?

In general Product Management and/or Technical Product Management is about orientating between business and markets trends and needs and
being able utilise technology to define product features and enhancements. Marty Cagan, in his article Are You Technical Enough? States that:
"When I interview product management candidates, I’m looking hard at these two points. The candidate must convince me that they are capable of understanding and applying new technology, and of earning the respect of the engineering team."

As such keeping up with new and emerging technologies and learning about technologies that could be new to you is not only a challenge but critical to being a good and well respected Product Manager. Marty in the same article gives a few tips on how to stay technically savvy or should I say technologically savvy.

"There are many ways to do this. Books, articles, blogs, extension courses, experiment with the technologies or write software on your own, spend more time with your engineers, ask them about the technology topics they are exploring and tag along."

'Technical Product Manager' or 'Technology Product Manager'
In my book we should be careful not to get being technical mixed up with being able to apply technology to solve a problem – semantics one might say – let me explain – I view being technical as being the role of the Developer, Engineer or the Architect the person who is able to dig deep into the code, design the solution be it hardware, software, firmware or a combination of all three – they are also the people who are able to maintain the product, figure out work arounds (e.g. when chip sets all of a sudden go obsolete and purchasing are unable to source any more or a release of a new online feature causes performance issues not experienced in UAT or system test environments). The Product Manager needs to be able to have an appreciation for these issues but is not the person to offer up a detailed solution.
Things Product Managers do to keep up with Technology
Here’s how a few Product Managers that I have interviewed keep themselves updated with new technologies:

From Marketing to Product Management: Ivan Chalif says that he
"...typically let my Engineers bring new technologies to me, but I keep my eye open for new UI features and capabilities in other products that I think might be useful for my users. I also subscribe to a number of usability- and technology-oriented RSS feeds."

Transition from Web Developer to Product Manager: Patrick Jolley said "By using sites like TechCrunch and eHub. I also really like the ‘Movers and Shakers’ section on Alexa."

Interview with a Director of Product Management
: Paul Young says that he tries "... to read a lot. I make heavy use of Google Reader to keep up with RSS feeds from favorite tech sites like Engadget. I also regularly read the other Product Management blogs that I link from my site, Product Beautiful. I am always amazed and humbled by the great thoughts and posts that other Product Management bloggers are creating."

Interview with an Ex AOL Product Manager: Brunella said "By reading a lot on the Internet and getting the latest hints through friends and colleagues in the field."

Interview with Jeff Lash: Author of How to be a Good Product Manager "... I try to read as many blogs as I can manage, read general consumer and business magazines, and learn from colleagues. I try to use as many new web sites as possible -- I always sign up for the "notify me when this service is available" email notifications, since there's too many to remember. As much as I try to stay ahead of the curve, though, I can't keep track of everything. My feeling is that if something is really going to be important, I don't need to be the first to find out about it, since I'll probably hear about it soon enough if enough people are talking about it."

From Technical Support to Product Management Mark Barns states "Mostly through working closely with in house development teams on Product Requirement and Software Requirement Specs. Continuous customer engagement, Trade Shows and Standards bodies attendance also help."

Tony Bradley in his article: Keeping up with Tehnology gives this advice:
"New technologies and improved technologies are emerging all the time. It can be daunting to try to keep up with them all. Remember to focus on keeping your business needs in mind and finding the technology that helps solve them rather than keeping up with technology just for the sake of keeping up with technology."

How do you keep up with technology? – Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.

1 comment:

  1. Nice insights of Product Managers working.