Product thinking helps IT organizations enable digital business
The digital revolution is disrupting business models and transforming companies. Consumerization, a key driver in the digital revolution, is directly impacting the perception of IT. As global customers become increasingly comfortable with advanced technologies, the expectation of receiving the same user-friendliness, flexibility, and support from their IT providers as they do from consumer technologies grows. Similarly, business users are demanding that IT services be delivered with the same level of customer focus, continual iteration and updates, and responsiveness that they are accustomed to getting from retail technology products. Furthermore, product managers of traditionally non-technology products are adding technical components to their product lines, which, historically, organizations have frequently relied on IT to deliver. This trend has shown no signs of stopping, and IT must approach the business-IT dynamic in a different way to maximize the value contribution IT makes to the changing landscape.
Meeting these new demands requires large, transformational, cultural, and organizational shifts to leverage a bi-modal, agile development-focused operating and development model. While these shifts can (and must) occur to meet this changing demand independent of a product-focused mindset, the two can synergistically create and drive value that is better appreciated by the customer. The product-focused mindset would instill the continual effort to maximize product value, and the expectation of IT to participate in cross-functional integrated product teams would increase cross-org collaboration. As a result, IT would be better equipped to tackle the following challenges through a product-centric mindset: the shift from project-centricity to product centricity, the concept of business and IT integrated agile product teams (Figure 2: Cross functional integrated product teams), an increased need to understand market and consumer needs by the technology delivery teams, as well as the need for an IT culture that enables innovation, agility and alignment to product strategies.
It is important to know that a company starting on this journey can pace the way they embrace product management. In many cases, both product and project management can be relevant disciplines and exist in the same organization side by side. The fundamental difference between the two approaches is in the amount of ownership and autonomy that the delivery teams have within their approved budget and timelines.