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Avatars of a Product Manager

5-Blind-Men and Elephant

The parable of the Five Men & the Elephant is a popular one.

Five blind men, each touching a single part of an elephant such as the trunk, the ear or the tail, are asked to describe what they are touching and each comes up with a very different and unrelated description. One describes the elephant as a rope, whereas another as a tree and yet another as a fan and so on. 

This story is very illustrative of how one’s perception or understanding of something is uniquely informed by their personal exposure and experience with it. It also shows how the larger perspective could be missed by being too narrowly focused.

So what does this story have to do with indix?

We believe that Product Management, akin to the elephant in this story, has many facets and depending on the role of the Product Manager and industry, we get varying descriptions of what Product Management is or even what a Product Manager does.

Our mission, as we alluded to in our Power to the Product Manager blog post, is to help ‘see the whole elephant’, which in our case is the Product Management space and to develop tools and capabilities that are relevant and useful to the Product Manager.

Who is a Product Manager?

In order to talk further about Product Managers and the commonalities in their goals or the challenges that they face, I think it’s important to start with the definition of a Product Manager.

However, our experience as well as those of countless others before us informs us that attempting to define Who a Product Manager is will only lead to disagreements based on industry bias and will shift focus away from the intended mission of a holistic approach.

The more apt approach, it seems, is to center the discussion on What a Product Manager does.

Our belief is that anyone who influences the product, its attributes, its price, its promotion or distribution is a Product Manager. To do this, the product manager must of course be deeply aware of the market, the competition and the (potential) customers.

Various Avatars of Product Managers

By this definition, our Product Manager has many avatars ranging from Product Line and Category Managers to Buyers, Pricing Analysts and Sales Account Managers.

We will cover each of these avatars in detail in upcoming posts but suffice it to say that we have spoken with many of them and there are some very interesting and addressable opportunities to improve each of their individual capabilities while also enabling greater value across the full spectrum of their collective activities.

For example, when the same market or competitive insight materially affects decisions taken by many of these avatars, why must they each continue to search for that insight separately using disparate tools with variable success and why can’t the insight be presented to each of them in their language with clear impacts to their individual goals and success measures.

Let’s look at an example of such an insight.

Consider an insight which reveals that Women’s Shoes containing PVC as a material have the lowest % of products currently on sale. Now, looking at the historical trend of this group of items, it’s also revealed that it has been this way for a month but previously, it was Women’s Shoes with Crystals on them which held the top spot for four months before being taken over by PVC.

We believe that such an insight is useful and consequential not only to Product Designers and Product Line Managers but also to Category Managers, Buyers, Sales Managers as well as Pricing Analysts across Brands, Manufacturers and Retailers.

It is also an insight that you don’t typically look for but having this insight can subsequently drive additional research and analysis for each of these Product Managers to then enable decisions that directly impact goals by which they are measured.

The image below lists some of the decisions potentially impacted by such insights across each product manager:

Product Manager Impacts - 2

The mission of enabling big-data insights like these is what’s driving us at indix and whether the ‘elephant in the room’ is competition from private label products, eroding margins, lack of an Amazon compete strategy or regular overstocks, we aim to help you and your organization uncover it, recognize it and deal with it.

 

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