Make in India – Product Management Thought Leadership Series
By Arijit Banerjee
Adopting the best-in-class product management practices
Ever-evolving technology, emerging competitors and fast changing customer expectations all lead to the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguousness (VUCA) across industries. Driving the ship of success on the turbulent VUCA Ocean are a bunch of super-humans called Product Managers! Manipal Global Academy of Information Technology (Manipal ProLearn) conducted a session called Make in India: Adopting Best-in-Class Product Management Practices at their campus, where game-changing insights on product management were shared by the best in the industry. Here are the key takeaways from the event in a nutshell -
Dr. Yogesh Kumar Bhatt, VP, IT Education and Training at Manipal ProLearn started with an introductory note on the session. He pointed out some of the key issues that product managers face in today’s world and how Manipal ProLearn is working in the space to create product managers for the future. Talking on volatility in the world of products, he said – “while we are trying to create new capabilities, the world is slipping under our feet.” He further added – “that is what drives us to be on the edge and create new capabilities.”
Yogesh Kumar Bhatt Speaking at the event
“While we are trying to create new capabilities, the world is slipping under our feet.”
- Yogesh Kumar Bhatt, VP, IT Education and Training at Manipal ProLearn
Yogesh then invited on stage Mr. Sharad Sharma, a passionate evangelist of the software product ecosystem in India and a co-founder of the Indian Software Products Industry Round Table (iSPIRT). With a dazzling track record of working with Yahoo, India R&D, Cisco and Brand Sigma inc. Sharad voraciously spoke on how India is changing under its new leadership and the way our mind-set is changing from offering services to building cutting-edge products.
Mr. Sharad Sharma, Co-founder iSPIRT, CEO, Brand Sigma Inc. sharing his insights at the event.
India Stack – Driving India to Future
Sharad’s session at the event gave the audience a futuristic view of India’s growth story. He is one of the leaders who’s pushing India’s endeavour for a digital economy. He spoke comprehensively on India Stack, which is a set of APIs that helps governments, developers and businesses to utilise a unique digital infrastructure and solve the problems in attaining a presence-less, paperless and cashless economy. Sharad’s iSPIRT serves as a pro bono partner in evangelising, developing and evolving these APIs.
Source - indiastack
He also spoke on the ground breaking progress that India can make with the help of smarter initiatives such as DigiLocker and eSign. The growing use of smartphones among Indians is further going to pave the way for such initiatives.
“India 2 is going to be the growth driver and companies should focus on this group”
- Sharad Sharma, CEO, Brand Sigma Inc.
Explaining how India is taking silent but giant strides towards major structural changes, he said that the country’s population can be split into three groups namely – India 1 (annual income of more than 5.5 lakhs), India 2 (annual income between 2 – 5.5 lakhs) and India 3 (annual income below 2 lakhs). He further added that smarter product companies have focussed their vision on the India 2 band that is evolving as a huge growth driver. He cited the example of the 3Ps – Patanjali, PhonePe and PayTM and said how these ‘smart players’ are leveraging this sector.
Sharad’s insightful address was followed by a panel discussion that was attended by Lalitha Ramani, Director, Product Management Intuit; Sairam Veeraswamy, Sr. Director – Innovation program at VMWare; and Krishnendu Majumdar, Sr. VP and Product Head – Performance Business at Inmobi. The panel discussion was moderated by Bhaskaran Srinivasan who is the Director of Academics at Manipal ProLearn.
The Panelists (from left to right) – Lalitha Ramani, Sairam Veeraswamy, Krishnendu Majumdar and Bhaskaran Srinivasan
Panel Discussion on Manipal ProLearn’s Product Management 5i Framework
The panel discussion revolved around the 5i framework, namely Ideate, Innovate, Implement, Industrialize and Improve. The panellists shared their views on each of these aspects. Here’s a round-up of what they said.
Talking on the very first step of ideating a product, the panellists said that some of the crucial aspects of successful ideation includes the capability of:
- Design thinking and
- Entrepreneurial thinking
Krishnendu further emphasised on economic viability of a product and the problems that it is solving as other crucial factors in ideating a great product. He further said that “In India it is not easy to make people pay” as they are very specific about their needs. So, the idea should be validated with these two points.
“In India it is not easy to make people pay”
-Krishnendu Majumdar, Sr. VP and product Head – Performance Business at Inmobi
Krishnendu Talking on Ideation
Innovation stands at the base of all successful endeavours. The panellists cited the example of all tech juggernauts and pointed out how they have been innovating products year after year to stay relevant. Lalitha Ramani spoke further on innovation and told how product managers can frequent call-centres to find out the issues faced by customers and that can be a great way of innovating products.
“Product managers should often go to call-centres and interact with customers directly. That will give them innovative ideas”
- Lalitha Ramani, Director, product Management Intuit
Lalitha speaking at the event
Krishnendu also added how “understanding the psyche of customers” is a game changer in the field of innovation and shared the story of Alibaba and EBay’s business ‘war’ in china, where the former triumphed over the latter with the introduction of an ‘escrow-based’ system where buyers could store their money with a third-party and make the payment only when the deal was completed.
Sairam spoke on implementing innovative ideas in products and pointed out that “product-managers are the CEOs of product lines”. He added that implementation or product engineering is the area where product managers devote most of their efforts and suggested that they should also pay attention to the ‘operability’ of the product while building it.
“Pay attention on the operability of the product”-
- Sairam Veeraswamy, Sr. Director – Innovation program at VMWare
Sairam speaking at the panel discussion
Industrialization of a product is a crucial stage in a product lifecycle and the panellists opined their views on it. Lalitha said that the real-world problems in product management are not related to technology but to human resource. On that note she said that technological issues are easier to solve but massive problems regarding the human resource might come as a punch from the dark and hit the chances of success.
Panel discussion on industrialization
Product improvement is a pivotal point in ensuring long-term success. Getting feedback from customer and interacting with them can help in improving a product. Talking on customer feedback, Krishnendu revealed the importance of user experience (UX) in improving the customer’s feedback on products. He said that “people these days are very particular about the experience of using a product” and further added that “this is the reason why a lot of entrepreneurs are co-founding product companies along with UX designers.
Krishnendu talking on product improvement
The 3-hour long event concluded with a round of question and answer sessions where the audience posed questions on the common problems in product management and the panellists answered them.
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