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AI and Product Management – The Possibilities Are Endless

AI and Product Management

(Artificial Intelligence) AI and product management is a white-hot topic that runs the gamut, from the countless benefits to product managers all the way to replacing product managers…and everything in between.

As with any new technology, there’s a maturation curve. Nevertheless, it’s always fun to think, dream and speculate about what AI and product management might or might not look like when it’s all grown up. 

What is AI (Artificial Intelligence)? 

Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, more specifically, cognitive skills like problem solving and decision-making. In layman’s terms, artificial intelligence is the ability for machines to think and act like humans.

Is Machine Learning the Same as Artificial Intelligence?

They’re closely connected but not exactly the same. Machine learning is about teaching a machine to identify patterns and perform specific tasks based on those patterns. It doesn’t go as far as simulating human cognitive functions. Here’s a great article that explains the differences and similarities between machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

As you might suspect though, it didn’t take long for marketers of products that employ machine learning to start touting AI capabilities! Remember when cloud technology first hit the scene? Just about every SaaS product company jumped on the bandwagon and started marketing their “cloud platform.” Here we go again. Enjoy the ride!

AI and Product Management

The possibilities are endless. When you think of all the decisions product managers make on a daily basis, AI can certainly lighten the load or at least make those decisions easier by answering questions no one ever thought to ask or answering questions with plenty of logic to make them completely defensible.

Short-Term Possibilities With AI in Product Management

In the short-term AI will be more suited to the operational side of product management.

Imagine this. AI will keep your roadmap current, create a prioritized product backlog and sprint plans based on how customers are using your products, what they like and don’t like, enhancement requests, quality issues and the productivity of your engineering teams just to mention a few obvious candidates.

How about this one? As enhancement requests come in, their value/viability is determined, dispositioned into a go/no-go bucket accordingly with communication back to the requester on why it will or won’t be considered, complete with a timeframe on delivery for those in the go bucket. AI would be making decisions based on the factors above while considering all other relevant factors like the current backlog, sprint plans and economies of scale for development teams.

Keep dreaming! This could be fun.

Longer-Term Possibilities With AI in Product Management

In the longer-term AI will be more suited to the strategic side of product management, specifically portfolio management.

Here’s what AI can do with the likes of NPS/customer satisfaction scores, market dynamics, forecasted growth rates, competitive landscape, sales win rates, white space, wallet share, core competencies, etc.

AI can easily serve up a portfolio strategy that tells you your most lucrative market segments in the short and longer-term, current products you should be promoting to existing and prospective customers, new products you’re most likely to succeed with, customer accounts you should focus on for revenue and retention, etc.

Energized yet? 

Will AI Eventually Replace Product Managers?

Oh, yeah! Just like the internet was going to eliminate the middleman. How’d that turn out? Even funnier, (circa mid/late 90s) remember when some people thought the CD tray in their computer would serve up a hot pizza if they ordered online? 

AI will not render product managers obsolete. Will it change how we do product management? For sure. But it’s anyone’s guess on how AI will shape the role 5-10 years from now.

AI will be able to handle many of the most stressful decisions product managers are tasked with, but where it will hit the wall is not having all of the peripheral the information product managers use to make decisions that aren’t necessarily product specific. 

Think about your company’s strategic goals, objectives, financial targets, etc. and their impact on product decisions.  Throw in market factors, customer sentiment, the influence of specific customers on product decisions, technical and design considerations, and the hundred other “what if” scenarios that come into play with many product decisions. 

Like most other technologies, it will mature over time and likely grow into making some of these decisions without human interaction. But that’s a few years off. 

In the meantime, if you want to up-level your human intelligence skills in product management, contact us about a personalized hands-on workshop for your team or enroll in our 101 Basic Product Management Course On-Demand. It’ll help you stay a step ahead of, or at a minimum, keep pace with the machines, at least for now!

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by John Mansour on April 10, 2023.