It’s reasonable to say that AI will fundamentally change how product teams work.
Here are a few forecasts:
Developers will soon switch from writing code to editing it. But eventually, high-level supervision will be all that AI needs to produce high-quality features that are scalable and effectively use resources.
AI tools will enable designers to create designs with very basic written or visual descriptions. This will make it much simpler to quickly sketch ideas while they are in the moment and have them ready for construction.
Challenges like product strategy, coordinating stakeholders, and creating experiences that address actual issues will still exist.
But I can already see a very different world emerging.
What do you envision that future to look like, and how can we continue to be relevant?
My opinion is that we need to have as many different skills as we can. The more hats we can wear, the better chance we have of staying relevant.
I believe that in addition to the skills listed above, our core competency set should also include data analytics (the capacity to use data to answer questions and obtain those answers using SQL queries), user research (the capacity to speak with users and compile compelling insights), design skills (the capacity to produce high fidelity mocks that adhere to sound design principles that customers love), and engineering skills (at least an understanding of how tech works but implementation experience is better).
I’m not capable of doing any of these things. The first two are mine. To diversify my skill set, however, I’ll be using ChatGPT and other LLMs to see what else I can learn.
What do people in here believe?
Though ChatGPT is decades away from accomplishing the goals you mention, I personally am excited for it.
Many companies today still use outdated, complicated processes, tech stacks, and systems because doing so would be very expensive.
And a “AI” will never be able to do that well when those systems do need to migrate to new platforms or code bases. Additionally, I don’t believe what we are currently witnessing can properly be referred to as “AI” because it is something entirely different.
As a result, the Product Manager’s duties include prioritizing, making changes, communicating, etc. with stakeholders.
Many such internal and external stakeholders will be striving for priority #1 and making their cases to many PMs. In my opinion, an AI will never be able to resolve this.
I concur with both of your main arguments @Nathanendicott.
I would say that your first point is the only one I would disagree with. I believe that as new companies enter the market aggressively, the outdated systems holding back large corporations may soon become an existential threat.
There could be a huge market disruption.
To your point, though, that will take some time.
Interesting observation regarding the old systems. However, it varies by industry. Imagine that a business could abandon SAP and replace it with a disruptive startup that costs a fraction of what SAP does and was created by artificial intelligence (I don’t think this will happen any time soon, by the way). Because they don’t switch, their costs are higher than those of their competitors, which weakens the company. What difference does that make to a company with a fleet of ships or trucks, though? Or what about land, business property, or mining stakes? Even though all of their IT costs are significantly lower, they still own that stuff, so a competitor cannot simply take it.
I do believe that software companies are at a higher risk. Customers suddenly start switching to a new competitor who is able to offer a similar product for half the price or less despite the company having an established product and hundreds of employees. Because they use AI and only have 5 employees, they can offer the lower price. However, I believe it has a low likelihood of occurring and a significant impact. For all well-known software companies, it would be a protracted, lengthy black swan event.
I think this would technically be a grey rhino, because everyone sees it coming. However, I believe you are correct in terms of scaling. I believe AI will enable companies to accomplish much more with less. You’ll begin to notice much smaller companies with enormous valuations.
Yep, I definitely agree that companies with physical infrastructure will have much more protection. And yes, the timescale is a big question mark.
Migrations are never simple. Moving a system from a recently developed technology to a more recent one is challenging enough. Moving an old one to a new one is a different matter.
Now, in the future, as companies are built on new systems with greater AI capabilities, it might be simpler, but established companies will still need to maintain them. Banks and automakers still use COBOL mainframes and databases.
Imagine a disruption to a venerable system like Visa or Mastercard! Can’t? That is the case because it is not feasible.
They are being compelled by market forces to adopt crypto and crypto-competitive features (although CEFI does not replace defi; see Celsius).
But more importantly, every incumbent is eventually disrupted. They fall more forcefully into larger moats. I’m passionate about creating open tools and relying on innovation rather than rent-seeking because of this.
The issue is that VC/MC have so much money that they just buy anything that resembles a competitor even remotely. You can’t zig when they zag because they simply copy their competitors and have the resources to do both at once.
Yes, product managers (PMs) will likely maintain their importance, if not become even more critical, as AI transforms how tech companies function. While AI and automation can handle many tasks and processes, there are several reasons why product managers will continue to be essential:
Strategic Decision-Making: PMs play a crucial role in defining the overall product strategy and direction. They consider market trends, customer needs, and business goals to make informed decisions that AI might not be able to fully grasp.
Customer-Centric Approach: AI can provide insights into customer behavior, but PMs bring a human touch to interpreting those insights. They understand the emotional and psychological aspects of customer preferences, which helps in creating products that resonate with users.
Innovation and Creativity: While AI can generate ideas and solutions, human creativity is still unmatched. PMs foster innovation by brainstorming new features, refining concepts, and thinking outside the box to create unique products that stand out in the market.
Cross-Functional Collaboration: Product managers serve as a bridge between different teams, such as engineering, design, marketing, and sales. Their ability to communicate and collaborate effectively with these teams is crucial for successful product development.
Adapting to Change: Tech companies are in a constant state of change, and PMs are well-equipped to handle uncertainty and shifting priorities. They can pivot strategies, adapt to new market conditions, and keep the team aligned.
Ethical Considerations: AI raises ethical concerns, such as bias in algorithms and data privacy. Product managers need to address these issues and make ethical decisions that align with the company’s values and user expectations.
Complex Problem Solving: AI can solve specific problems efficiently, but PMs excel in tackling complex, multifaceted challenges that require a holistic understanding of the product ecosystem.
User Experience: While AI can optimize certain aspects of user experience, PMs focus on the entire customer journey. They ensure that the product meets users’ needs, is intuitive to use, and provides a seamless experience.
Market Insights: PMs are responsible for staying updated on market trends, competition, and user feedback. This holistic understanding helps them make informed decisions that drive product success.
Long-Term Vision: Product managers are responsible for the long-term vision of a product. They consider how the product will evolve over time, how it fits into the company’s overall strategy, and how it addresses future customer needs.
Incorporating AI into product management processes can certainly enhance efficiency and provide valuable insights, but it doesn’t replace the strategic thinking, creativity, empathy, and decision-making skills that human PMs bring to the table. Instead, AI can assist PMs by providing data-driven insights, automating repetitive tasks, and aiding in decision-making, ultimately enabling PMs to focus on higher-level responsibilities and driving innovation.
Every time a new technology is released, concerns about market disruption arise. However, people rarely consider the reasons why incumbents continue to operate as relative dinosaurs through each stage of innovation.
Regulators will also be used by these dinosaur companies to block new entrants while adopting a portion of AI to lower customer support costs, which is why OpenAI welcomes regulation because it can lock out competitors from the market. I don’t anticipate a revolution, but there will be some surprises.
The work could be prioritized using a set of rules, and AI could gather feedback from stakeholders by asking them about their challenges and problems in a form.
The AI could keep track of how a customer uses your product and make recommendations for how to address their issues.
I believe that over time, PM work will be severely impacted.
A few slack workflows seem to be able to handle that right now.
At least 60% of the value that a good PM brings comes from managing human relationships, which is so far outside the realm of what current AI technology is capable of.
Even if you have the best strategy in the world, it won’t matter much if you can’t get everyone on board and execute it.
Wow, it most certainly isn’t.
In terms of AI, nothing is decades away. We may be a few years away from an AGI.
If we want, we can already have product managers for AI. We might already have doctors (diagnosticians, at least) and lawyers. Soon, we’ll have drivers and pilots.
More quickly than most people realize, everything is changing.
Indeed, no. You are not a good PM if AI can replace you right now. I’m a big fan of ChatGPT and Bard, and they’re already a part of my toolkit, but there’s no way you can give them tasks like strategy, those decisions you make based solely on intuition rather than data, etc. Even when doing market analysis, the numbers it provides are frequently not entirely accurate, so you should always double-check the information it provides.
Regarding having doctors and lawyers already, there is currently a case involving a lawyer who used ChatGPT to conduct “legal research” and cited a number of fictitious cases in a filing. As a result, the judge is very upset with the lawyer and is taking action against him or her.
I’ve been hearing that for years now…
PMs wouldn’t worry me as much as engineers would. Due to the size of product teams, PMs do not significantly deplete an organization’s resource pool. However, it would be a major victory if you could accomplish the same results with only 40% of your tech staff.
@FlaviaBergstein, but I believe this slightly misinterprets the circumstances. I could be wrong, but it appears that our ambition will increase in line with our capacity to effectively use AI.
The objective will be more, better results that happen faster rather than “the same results.”
No product team that I am aware of is delivering everything they want to deliver at the rate and quality they desire.
@AnushkaGarg, yes, I understand your point, but it all depends on how you frame it.
In my opinion, software engineers currently perform a creative repeatable task that requires significantly less human interaction than the comparable creative repeatable tasks PMs perform.
When we developed the steam engine, we didn’t just expand the size of the factories where both machines and people worked together; we also got rid of the workers who were responsible for repetitive mechanical tasks. Any sensible business will always prioritize profit over throughput because profit can always be used to boost throughput but not always the other way around.
Yes, and I hear so many engineers say, “I’ll worry about my job when the customer knows what they want to build and can accurately describe it,” and I’m like .