The manufacturing industry is in the middle of a major transformation. A lot of things are happening around digitalization, servitization, user experience, remote managed machine operations. There is a lot of buzz about internet of things, virtualization, solution oriented business models and extended products. Many major industrial companies are continuously seeking topline and margin growth from the product lifecycle and product extensions.
In order to get traction in the transformation and jump from buzz to tangible results in this transition many industrial companies would need a significant change in the role and profile of product management. Even though the manufacturing industry business models, products and the total offering are going through a huge change, the role product management is still tied around the electromechanical core product and stuck with operational, internal tasks.
When thinking about it. It should be product management who should be driving this transformation, instead of being 100% tied up with sales and delivery support, claims handling or troubleshooting the mechanical core products. It’s namely product management, where digitalization, servitization, IoT, virtualization, customer experience development initiatives are tied together with the products of the company.
In order to start driving the change in the manufacturing industry, the mandate, position and visibility of product management must be more prominent and leading, as it is e.g. in the software industry. The necessary change needed in the product management role would be for example that:
Product management competence in general must be developed much more towards commercial product management, naturally not dismissing the technical competences, while also increasing the software and information management and data analysis skills.
Product management capabilities in relation to product strategy, differentiation and business or earnings models should be developed further due to rapid changes in the products, competition and markets during this transformation.
The product to manage under a product manager should be extended to cover much more than just the electromechanical product. The orientation of product management should shift more towards digital product extensions, automation, software and servitization.
Product management role in relation new product development should be much more outside-in, cross border role with capability to address the whole product instance lifecycle from how it should be delivered, used, maintained and up or down graded.
Product portfolio management processes and methods must be more advanced and agile, due to increased complexity of product to product relationships, solutioning and extensions in the products with related digital and lifecycle services.
By developing the role of product management in manufacturing business there is a lot to gain, nothing to lose and eventually, I think, it will be absolutely necessary in order to stay in the competition.