November 10, 2013

What is the role of a Product Manager ?

Product management is still a relatively new and evolving role. Hence we come across this question often in various formats & forums. 

This my take that I shared in an interview with Product Nation. Hope this will bring some more clarity for aspiring product managers.  

A product manager has to perform three key roles in an organization: Envision, Evangelize and Execute.

This means having a clear picture of the problem you are trying to solve, the solution and the strategy that will lead you there. It requires deep understanding of target users, the existing solutions and competitors in the market and a compelling case for why your solution will win over the existing alternatives.

An equally important aspect of my role is evangelizing  your vision to your team. The more you focus on this the easier it’ll be to execute. And once the team is convinced with your vision, you’ll be amazed to see the change it’ll bring to the output. 

Remember the quote from The Social Network, “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.”
It is one of the most critical aspects of product management and means doing whatever it takes to ensure your product ships. 

June 15, 2013

10 Lessons Startups can learn from Driving

This thought struck me while I was driving back from Wayanad a few months ago. 
Driving a car seemed very similar to running a startup and here are few things we can learn from it.    
1. Journey of 1,000 miles starts with turning on the ignition
You might be the best driver, you might have the fastest car, and you might know all the interesting places in the world. But all that is of no use until you start. 

"Start Now!" 

2. If you just want to go places but don't enjoy driving, take a bus
If your goal is just reaching the destination, then there are many options available for it. Driving is for people who love to drive, they enjoy the journey more than the destination as they reach there eventually. So unless you are sure that you are ready for a ride, don’t hit the road. 

"Start for the right reason." 

3. Driving with a partner makes the journey more beautiful
Driving with a partner not only makes the journey more pleasant but if your partner can drive too it'll significantly reduce the risks and improves your confidence too. 

"Look for a passionate co-founder."  

4. If taking a new route, it's better to have someone who knows it
If you are heading for a long drive and the route is new to you, it is always good to have someone who is familiar with it. Technology helps, but not as much as people. 

"Passion isn’t a replacement for experience." 

5. People with folded side view mirrors are bad drivers
It is a common saying that people with side view mirror folded are generally bad drivers; the worse are the ones who don't have them. Not keeping an eye on what's coming from behind can be a sign of carelessness or overconfidence, and both can be fatal. 

"Be aware of your surroundings."  

6. Highways are not for learner
If you are new to driving don't hit the highways directly. Learn the basics first, and there are training schools, open grounds and empty roads for that. Avoid hitting the highway unless you are ready for it, they are for serious and trained driver. 

"Start small." 

7. Don't confuse local experience with highway driving
You might be the local hero, but that doesn’t ensure you’ll win at highways also. Highways are full of big boys with big trucks. They can crush you with their size and power anytime.  

"Be prepared to fight the big game." 

8. Thank people who give you a pass
We are living in a competitive world in which it is extremely difficult to let people go ahead of us. So when someone helps you in moving ahead make sure you acknowledge it. It not only is a good gesture, but in case breakdown, he’ll be the guy who’ll come from behind and help you. 

"Be grateful." 

9. Speed Breakers are good
If it’s a straight road, the one with highest BHP will win almost always. But every time you hit a traffic jam or a breaker, it makes sure everyone slow downs. Being small you can maneuver the traffic better and by perfecting speed breakers you can make sure that you overcome them by slowing down as less as possible. If it gives you a little jerk, so be it (but a little, don’t overdo and topple).  Personally, I have overtaken most of the big cars at speed breakers and the more breakers I get, the more lead I gain from them. 

"Adversities are disguised opportunities." 

10. Don’t drink and drive
Driving in any kind of intoxication not only puts you life at risk, but also of the ones in your car. And sometimes accidents block the entire traffic taking that road for hours. So don't think you are alone in the game and taking a fun ride will only impact you.   

"Taking risk is different from being stupid.

June 1, 2013

Will successful Wearable Technology be 'Invisible' ?

Wearable technology is one of the latest fad in the consumer electronics world these days and everyone is contemplating how it'll change the way we consume and interact with data. 

From rumors of Apple iWatch  to speculations on Google Glass, anyone even remotely associated with technology is watching this space very closely.

If so called 'wearable technology' is sounding too geeky, I guess Bluetooth headset would ring a bell. No doubt what we are talking here is far more advanced but these headsets would be one of the primitive versions of WT that every one of us has used and could relate to.

And if Google Glass doesn't sound too familiar, am sure you'd remember this.

Even though there is a long way to go before these devices will go mainstream people have already started renouncing them due to various privacy and security reasons. Some plainly find them funny. 

Which isn't new, like Gandhi said, 
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. "
I still remember the how camera phones were considered to be a huge dent in privacy. They were banned in gyms, which included names like Gold’s, and scandalous MMSes took the concerns to a new high. But later on, the benefits outshined nuisances and now smartphones are a dent in balance-sheet of companies that relied solely on cameras.

For that matter even when Bluetooth headsets were launched, people wearing them were ridiculed, but they brought a significant improvement in productivity by freeing up one hand. And that means a lot, when you have just two.

Although am extremely bullish on the future of wearable technology but for it to really go mainstream, it has to be 'invisible'. As we all so fond of buzzwords, I prefer calling it 'Invisible Technology'. 

Take Google Glass for an example. There is not doubt about the paradigm shift it’ll bring in the way we live, but it looks like 'Pager' of 2020, that might die even before it's born.  Apart from being impracticable to wear it all the time even at a cost of looking stupid or wannabe, I might not want to give up my RayBan for it.

Again taking a clue from MI, how about building something like this.

I understand that there might be greater privacy concerns but I think in order to take the next leap, wearable technology has to be invisible. Something that we don’t have to wear additionally, something that won’t be visible to others. It’ll be a part of things that we wear normally. Something wont make us look like a Glasshole.

What say?

May 24, 2013

Correlation between Email-id and Tenure

I noticed that there is a patten in a lot of emails that we get everyday. 

In most of the cases, you can tell when did the sender joined the company just by looking at his email id.  

And the pattern looks something like this:
Stage of company          Email id of sender
  Drawing room office                
  One room office  
  One floor office   
  Too late              

Have you noticed something similar?

February 26, 2013

Batman Begins !

Here is what would have happened if Batman was a Product Manager and Rachel an HR...

November 7, 2012

Cigarettes, Bars and eCommerce !

How does it feel when the bar tender at your favorite pub just asks "Your regular drink, JD on the rocks, Sir?" instead of handing over the drinks menu to you.  Or the manager at the cafe near your house suggests you to try the new cheesecake they've added in the menu because they know you like it.

This must have happened with many of us, several times. Infact, some of us even take it for granted now. 

But you'll think these are educated people and professionals from hospitality sector.  So I'll try to give another example.

Have you ever noticed, if you go to the same pan-wala everyday, he'll soon stop asking your brand and will hand over your cigarette as soon as you reach there without even asking you.  

Okay, now come back the world wide web. 

How many websites treat you like this?

Their audience also consist of same people like you & me, who get a special treatment at our regular hideouts, maybe that's why we go there more often.  

But even if you visit the same website everyday, all you get is a poker face. 

Google has made a amazing video depicting how users are treated online.

I seriously hate to see a captcha, specially the case sensitive ones that have letters Z and O in them :P

But am not here to complain, and nor am saying that none of the websites are working towards personalization. Infact it was one of the buzzwords of web 2.0 that few people still remember.  

I can see some sites remembering my session (read as 'Hello Satya'), last searched keywords, some even remember the last viewed items and some have gone beyond to suggest items based on my browsing history.

Although few site are genuinely working hard to make the interaction much more personal and 'special'. But for most, it's just another lazy attempt to increase sale by pushing more products.

There is still a lot that the online world can learn from their offline counterparts. The more we observe & understand the user behavior offline, the better WWW we'll build.  

And soon we'll see a day when websites will interact with us as swiftly as our hair stylists.

Statuary warning: Smoking & Drinking are injurious to health.