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

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.

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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.

 

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

Thought Leaders of 2016’s EDI Subsector

Identifying Prototypical Thought Leaders of 2016’s EDI Subsector
Saving what remains of the Supply Chain and Manufacturing centric transactional messaging market.

Executive Summary

The remaining EDI networks (VANs) post consolidation will require an invigorating outside presence or the guiding hands of smart and savvy veterans to turn around the present sorry state of affairs the industry finds itself in. Examined in this monograph: Who will step forward to right the ship, set a good example, and be Stewards to the EDI Networked Messaging Subsector??

Identifying those “Most Likely to Have a Positive Impact (i.e. Heros) is not challenging, because the opposite stands in stark evidentiary contrast by the PE stoked leviathans still haunting the sector, despite the inherent rot festering within their C-Suites and emanating outwards to their client / victims.

Eliminate the Negative

Postmortem rehashing of the VAN consolidation era – is too depressing to enrobe in ASCII characters, therefore we start with a positive note.

VANs consolidation stoked by PE has have perfected nothing but a talent for disappointing clients. If the 2015 Q3 IT support surveys are credible, Liaison and OpenText have taken X number of EDI networks of varying quality, and transformed them into two logical networks of the poorest quality.

As these megaliths have no founders skin left in the game, no original team equity, and having terminated, bought out, or fired the most experienced (and therefore costly) Software Engineering talent – where does the market now turn in this new year of 2016 for real, functional, EDI Communications services?

Accentuate the Positive

The EDI communications sector has its stalwart Founder / Engineers that have stayed in the sector. The this post was originally going to call these folks, “heros”, but I think I might call them them, “righteous gluttons for punishment”, as the term ‘martyr’ has been corrupted of late, but I digress.

These folks have chosen to fight rather than run, have elected to evolve their product roadmaps and innovate, despite a dark miasma that persists in hanging above the EDI sector like a pall.

We can readily identify these True Stewards.

They all have been very visible in the EDI forums, on linkedin, on EDI-L, everywhere being as outspoken as possible. Many write informative, almost scholarly (but always practical) articles and posts on topics that are timely, sometimes controversial, and occasionally arrow-like in their topicality.

Sometimes I wish they would state what is on my mind, and then I remember that they have a business to run, employees to pay, and that such hit and run commentary is better left to the analysts – that’s what we do,

How do we recognize them by their attributes? Well, at least informally, they write no filler – period full stop. They are deadly serious, but paradoxically sometimes hilarious in the midst of their pontifications – especially when debating a fellow EDI thought leader on the technical merits of somesuch standard or software engineering technique – protocols are always good fodder for debate, and then we can spot two of these giants at work.

But here is a better list that characterizes the personalities and their organizations generally, for their hard won positive attributes:

  1. They are Founder / Owners of closely-held corporations.
  2. The Founder(s) is often an Engineer or a scientist that has driven the original and often the continuing product or service vision of the Corp.
  3. They are a population of exemplary bootstrappers; known for shunning outside capital; if persuaded to dilute holdings, they do so cautiously. This has been the case when time-to-scale is at stake.
  4. Most of these EDI Leaders are at least a decade plus into their maturity cycle of providing services, delivering products, and generating solid net revenues.
  5. Most of them have been reliably making payroll for many years. They are responsible people.
  6. They have built handpicked teams, not general hires. One can plainly see a mentor / coach model. Their staff tenures exceed 65-75% of the company’s age.

Personal and business reputation, creditworthiness, and credibility is a watchword and life principle for these thought-leaders, they will not sacrifice their moral standing for temporal gains.

They are inherent, inveterate innovators. They own the knowledge space wherein they practice and do business – they are not threatened by colleagues who are worthy and just as opinionated. Without exception, all are the final authorities for advice in the highly technical arenas and scientific specialties where they practice.

I am never surprised when one of these, often a new client, shows me that they are also just as competent and expert in a completely unrelated field of scientific or technical endeavor, or in a difficult to master art.

Do you knows these leaders of the EDI sector? Can you name two or three? As a Tribute, I will name a few in the next post, and write a bit in what they have contributed to the art of transactional messaging or data layer services, etc.

SAMSUNG

My Freelance Agenda

My updated Linkedin reads like this, and I am looking for new work as a freelance internal analyst  / evangelist – creating alternative narratives that serve to rejuvenate product targeting, while elevating the discussion above the noise level .

The Enterprise IT Sector is crowded and complex. The constituent buyers of B2B Capital Line of Business software and hardware are becoming increasingly jaded and immune to standard marketing practices.

Feature / Benefit – Feature / Benefit

Whether a long and excruciatingly precipitous closing cycle, or being drowned in the advertising noise, when is the right time to create a fresh narrative? 

Selling complex and costly capital line systems to sophisticated buyers using the old feature / benefit tactic is starting to wear thin across capital line of business IT and equipment markets. There are many, many highly competitive SME companies led by Scientist / Engineer Founders who are simply being outspent on media by PE funded leviathans. 

A reworked narrative can make a difference. My campaigns are industry issue driven to dovetail with your existing marketing, to steer high-interest prospects and convert them into leads – always focusing on the essential core of what makes your org / product better, different. 

In context of the market & above the noise. Part of being in context is analyzing the competitors in your sector, while keeping watch on the developing opportunities.

My clients deliver highly crafted and refined technologies to B2B software and a few hardware markets where I have a special feel for (Test & Measurement, Mobile data, workforce management). I’m an industry relations analyst with an evangelist’s tilt – and increasingly a guide to regulatory relations