Bridging AI: The Product Manager’s New Adventure

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By Damián

January 11, 2024

Artificial Intelligence is no longer just a futuristic concept, but a practical tool reshaping industries. Throughout 2023, we’ve seen efforts to integrate AI into all kinds of projects, and this trend is set to grow in 2024. However, we have already seen many well-intended efforts being wasted on AI solutions poorly integrated into both new and existing products, presenting a significant risk to product coherence and strategy. As a Product Manager, have you ever wondered how this shift towards AI relates to your role? You might feel AI is outside your domain, but let’s discover why it’s more relevant to you than you might initially think.

Driving Product Strategy

Integrating AI into your product involves strategic planning and market positioning. Machine Learning, Large Language Models, Computer Vision, and other areas related to AI need to be considered as new materials, that can be used to redefine your product’s market position, create a competitive edge, or enhance customer satisfaction. And guess what: you are still in the driver’s seat. Your role is crucial in ensuring AI aligns with the broader business goals.

The first thing to understand is that successful AI integrations don’t happen by chance. It’s not a plug-and-play new toy because the success of an AI-enhanced product lies not just in the technology, but in its ability to enhance the user experience and solve an actual problem. As PMs, we advocate for the end-user, and we have the opportunity to shape AI technologies to significantly improve user interaction with our products. This is more than an opportunity; it’s a call to adapt and evolve.

Moreover, part of your role is to guide your product towards ethical and compliant standards. AI brings with it risks and ethical considerations, such as data relevance & integrity, user acceptance & trust, data privacy concerns, algorithm biases, transparency, legal & regulatory compliance, and potential misuse or abuse. Being at the forefront of product development, we must anticipate these challenges and ensure our products adhere to ethical standards.

AI Integration as a Collaborative Effort

Of course, we can’t do this alone. But as Product Managers, we are experts in facilitating communication. When integrating with AI teams, there is a strong need to generate shared understanding between data scientists, engineers, marketing teams, and executives, ensuring everyone is aligned. This collaboration is vital for identifying potential AI-driven solutions and implementing them effectively within the product.

We can then act as a crucial bridge between technical teams and non-technical stakeholders, translating AI capabilities and limitations into business and customer value. Our role is essential in setting realistic expectations and aligning the product vision across all teams.

Additionally, have you considered how your guidance could lead to innovative AI applications? With your facilitation skills, sense of human-centered design, and ability to understand real user pain points, you’re ideally positioned to inspire your teams to think creatively and explore novel AI applications.

Conclusion

Creating a shared understanding of how AI is applied to solve real-world problems with the goal of aligning this technology with business objectives and user needs, will significantly increase the chances of an AI component’s success. As Product Managers, we play a critical role in shaping this journey. Our involvement in AI definition is not just beneficial but essential to navigating the complex landscape of AI possibilities and pitfalls.

AI is redefining the landscape of product capabilities, and the role of Product Managers in this new era is more important than ever. Are you ready to embrace this evolving role and harness AI to create products that don’t just function, but truly improve your end-users’ lives? This journey might be new, but it’s one that every Product Manager can and should embark on.

*Cross-posted from Calde’s Insights on Product