Product management is all about moving with technology. Agile development processes such as SCRUM dramatically changed the product manager’s processes – and in some case the product manager’s role – in the product lifecycle. With the advent of the Internet of Things, the focus for product managers is shifting from product and technology to client-centricity and business growth.

Why is this change occurring? The combination of connected products and data analytics, is giving PMs more information about the product and user experience. This insight enables everything from new revenue streams, to improved product reliability, enhanced safety, improved user adoption and other strategic business benefits.

Now, product managers are tasked with all these business goals. The product manager simultaneously has a much greater impact to the business, and a much greater responsibility to ensure these business goals are attained.  

To keep up with the emerging digital technologies and drive new business growth, effective product managers must adapt to the technologies and processes implemented in their company.

Dominate the data

Companies today rely on data to make important product and business decisions, and nothing promises more data than smart systems. But there’s a catch: product managers can be swamped with ‘data overload’ from the sheer quantity of information coming through the products. PMs must decide early into product planning precisely which data is the most valuable, and focus on gathering that targeted data.

Collecting data is just the first step – you’ll need to document the data in a way that can be easily tracked, in order to translate it into insights that can increase sales or improve the product in later releases. And traditional spreadsheets fail spectacularly at capturing the complexity of data coming from smart devices.

Fortunately, there are software systems which track analytics for data management and insight. However, because they choose which data matters most, the data must refer back to the original IoT Model – the blueprint of the smart system – to ensure that the data coming through, i.e. with the data about behavior between machines or devices in the smart system.

Take a stronger role in product design

To ensure control over the direction of captured data, and the quantity of it, PMs must be involved early and frequently in the product design process. By active involvement in the design of ‘rulings’, i.e. the rules that govern the collection of data and ‘if/then’ of each smart machine or device, PMs develop a model which can be used as a point of reference once a product is in market and transmitting data back to an analytics platform.

Innovation is King

To stay ahead, product managers need to consistently improve their offering with an eye on technology. Assessing products qualitatively via client surveys and interviews takes up valuable time – and technology, like time, waits for no one. Much like blood tests provide more objective data than a verbal patient interview, analytics platform efficiently provide PMs with real, data-driven insight.

Instead of devoting time to gathering data, product management can focus more on making informed decisions about product development, as well as how to further improve and innovate.

Build products more efficiently

Embarking on an IoT project involves multiple layers within the product:

  1. Hardware
  2. Embedded software
  3. Cloud platform
  4. Applications
  5. Communication

You’ll create specifications for all of these – in an app, for example, you’ll specify everything from what appears on the screen, to how commands are relayed from the apps to the smart product, and the reverse.

Find the tools and hacks to clearly organize multiple specifications for different parts of an iot system and iterate quickly and often.

IoT Communications – PM as translator

Aproduct manager in the digital era is a translator – coordinating crucial communications, including product requirements, between teams that speak different technical languages.

Managing feedback from multiple departments and teams through product design and development iterations is one of the great challenges of IoT product management, and massively influences time to market and a product team’s agility. The key is finding a way to collaborate between departments so that  the product is consistent and everyone is aligned with what the product will be.

The Bottom line

To succeed in the Internet of Things, product managers must understand each layer of the smart system – from business planning to in-market analytics feedback. PMs will need to get hands-on at every stage of the process. The good news is, these required transformations will pave the way for more innovation and a long-term, goal-oriented approach within IoT product management.

Discover the IoT development platform for product managers.