One of the most challenging tasks in product management is a major architecture shift of a product. Primarily a software related issue (although there are architecture transitions in hardware that are thorny too), the point when an old architecture is holding you back, and market forces are driving the discussion in your market space, a clean rewrite is what is required.
Especially, if your existing product has a long history, and started in a very different world, with significant “crufty-ness”, or features being added on a creaky underlying foundation, threatening to implode under the strain.
This last week, I eagerly bought a copy of Nils Davis’ newly published book, “The Secret Product Manager Handbook”, and eagerly read it. While it isn’t strictly targeted at newbies, or folks who are interested in joining the ranks of Product Management, it is both a great introduction, and a guide that even very experiences members of the Product Management community can find value in, even if it is just to re-focus them on the basics.
Last week, a good friend came to town and we had a chance to connect for dinner and drinks. During the course of the evening, one topic we discussed was related to an article that he read that emphatically made the case that small (and some not so small) companies often look to a single leader for “Sales and Marketing.” The case that was made is that these are two very different roles, and thus, it is nearly impossible to find a single individual who could do both roles well.
“Have you heard the news? Digital Transformation is rocking the business world …”
During the extended holiday break, I am spending time ruminating on the topic, as it dovetails into a key thrust of a project I am working on, loosely “The Future of Work”.
Foundations – The Network
Thinking way back to the first “dot com” bubble, and the insanity, the process for starting a company was pretty uniform.
- Come up with an idea or business model
- Pitch that to a dumb person with too much money (ok, VC’s aren’t dumb, but in hindsight, they sure acted dumb)
- Buy a bunch of servers/racks/networking gear. Mostly from Sun Microsystems, and Cisco Systems
- Build a datacenter or colocate
- Lease a buttload of bandwidth
Digital Transformation, it’s all the rage, and doing a simple Google search yields a plethora of hits, from training to consultants, to the big market research companies, all weighing in. This wave of disruption continues to grow, and brings with it myriad opportunities to completely change the business.
In a nutshell, in the late ‘oughts, with the introduction of the Apple iPhone, the convergence of ubiquitous network connectivity, and the rise of the “*cloud*,” the stage was set for yet another transformation of business. Suddenly, the paradigm of where you work, and what tasks you perform were being disrupted. From the simple: an app on your smartphone to approve purchase requisitions, to the complex: integration of the CRM, the Marketing systems, and the ERP system to provide deep insight into the function and flow of business, and much more were realized every day.
A recent gig has me investigating the topic of Business Transformation, or as is also referred to as the Digital Transformation of the Business. If you do even a cursory Google search on it, you will discover reams of information about it.
In a nutshell, it is how the pervasive confluence of cloud computing, big data and analytics, the rise of software, and rapid development are all coming together to greatly disrupt the organization. Pick up any of the big analysts reports, Forrester, Gartner, and even some publications by the largest consultancies (EY, McKinsey, and others) and it is impossible to miss out on this trend.
I bought a copy of “The Phenomenal Product Manager” in 2009 or so on a lark. I was changing jobs, and had some time to read/hone my skills, and see what I could be missing.
Written by Brian Lawley, the top man at the 280Group, a consultancy, and training organization with deep product management and product marketing skills and reputations, I was at first put off by how thin the book was. I had expected there to be more “meat” to the book, judging by how much material was available publicly at their website, I was just disappointed that something that could be expected to be read in a couple hours could be helpful.