Evolution of the Product Manager’s Professional Career Arc

Fragmentation of the Product Manager’s Role

Executive Summary

Job Titles confer not only professional status, but they set expectations among the broad cohort of team members in a product driven organization. The title, “Product Manager”, a professional construct of the  later 20th century, must be one of the most amorphous titles in the modern workplace. How is this so? There has never been more  discussion regarding the definition of the title nor greater assumptions as to what the title entails; we witness this via the sheer number of websites, books, and training materials that have exploded on the scene, especially since the Internet era became pubescent.

Almost every technology driven organization places some emphasis on the Product Management sub org; we have seen the title occupied by engineers, sales persons, and those recruited from within development groups. We now see that specialist Product Managers hang their professional hats on the titular meme. Is it possible that Product go to market can be practiced as a profession without also being well-versed in the product’s particular specialty sector?

This brief will take a quick look at the issues, hopefully stimulating a conversation in your organization leading to further research. Continue reading

Another request to republish a major article

Here we go again, an august member of the retailer community asked me to (re)post my (now infamous) “Fulcrum” briefing. I told this person that the article is prominently stuck to the sidebar of the front page of my blog, and he said that “my boss is about to make a VERY BIG DECISION regarding our messaging vendor, and he wants to see that your briefing is conspicuously available, because he has footnoted it in his memo to the board of directors. So please, Alan, put it in a post at the TOP of your blog”.

Hey, no problem. Here it is. All mine:



Not thrilled about the LinkedIn sale to Microsoft

and here comes Reid Hoffman with a not entirely bad long form article adapted from his opening remarks at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, on 6/25. 

One of the in line comments at the tail of the LinkedIn article was sincerely yet unintentionally funny, and I found myself unable to resist piggybacking on the typo made by the commenter – especially since I am not happy about the Microsoft buyout of LinkedIn….well, you know after what they did to so many other companies such as Skype (ruined), Nokia (buried), Sidekick (hey you forgot that little leading edge mobile device company that led the market by 5 years, and that MS absolutely destroyed with its management’s wrecking ball style)?

Here an innocent Kenyan comments to Reid: Original at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/entrepreneurship-fundamental-human-attribute-we-need-more-hoffman


Alexander Alea

God bless you I request you to my place turkana land part of Kenya to teach my pole about Entrepreneurship.

Alan Wilensky
Analyst for Product Advocacy
Yes, Reid, please help this fellow’s pole – and while you are at it, could you fill your millions of loyal LinkedIn users of what you were thinking when you sold the baby to MS? No one I know expects that the software giant will bring anything resembling positive stewardship to this property you have so lovingly built up.


Next availability is 9/1/2016

Even well-known companies sometimes back out of signed contracts. I can squeal, complain, etc.,  or take them to task legally but for a 5 week contract, eh….. I really needed the work during the slow summer  –  but I let it go.

If they want me in the future, they will have to pay this one-off, and I will quietly place them on them on a shared “bad client” list.

Meanwhile…back at the ranch – who needs a top-shelf IT research analyst or product advocate?

I am seeking new Analyst / Advocate contract work as of 8/1/2016. Massive portfolio and references of course.

EDI Network Invoicing Opacity

VAN Invoicing Opacity –

What mama never told you

The Universal Complaint, if one was nominated in the EDI messaging sector, must be regarding Service Plan accounting, or what I call, “invoicing opacity”; it occurs when one attempts to reconcile a VAN bill with what you thought was your service plan / tier / stated rates. How did these extras get slipped in? They charge for interconnect traffic? and so on.

Things get particularly fraught when dealing with the madness with corporations selling VAN services via several aliases.  These corporations are amalgams of several businesses bought, sold, and reconstituted under a PE umbrella. With no founders or engineers left from the founding teams, these run down shells are denuded of essential institutional memory. We can instantly see why invoicing opacity has been routinely adopted by the PE managers and their C-Suite robot warriors at VAN HQ, or what’s left of it.

This  brief monograph lays an easy goal for the author – answering why most VAN invoicing is so opaque, especially as practiced by companies that should know better. These remnants of the declining VAN era should also be called upon to do better for the industry – laying bare an obvious question: “where is the VAN sector going”? And, “where will VAN clients go to once they are sufficiently fed up by the Value Subtracted Network model of the 201X EDI era?”

However, for the moment limiting ourselves to the advanced math of VAN invoice accounting, let’s at least throw down the primary reasons for confusion. After we accept that the situation is far from ideal, then the revolution may commence. Continue reading

State of Networked Messaging 2016 Q1 Late

State of Networked Messaging 2016 Q1 Late



Transactional Messaging, particularly in the B2B / Supply Chain domain, has been undergoing a series of protracted upheavals for the last decade, some would say longer. VANs, once the stalwarts of messaging sector, find themselves at the end of a long wind down, despite a hectic period of consolidation at the hands of professional PE.

The service once known as EDI messaging (at one time owned by VANs – period full stop), until recently, purchased as ala carte services, is being increasingly mutated into embedded functions within Enterprise Software and B2B platform services (SAAS).

And so on; change being the reliable constant in all things relating to vendor community management in the retail and manufacturing supply networks.

This article is condensed from the larger body of supply chain systems analysis compiled by the authors over the course of 2015, with an eye to calling the dance for 2016 – so far, the data has tracked accurately. Continue reading