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Top takeaways from ProductCon 2021

What happens when 20,000 product people get together virtually?

Recently, I, along with an impressive 20,000 others, attended ProductCon 2021, the world’s largest product management conference. While typically hosted in person, the experience was equally impactful in a virtual setting. The event featured an impressive lineup of keynote presentations with speakers from Netflix, The New York Times, AirBnB, Uber, and more, networking sessions, and virtual booths hosted by various product organizations. Having been fortunate to attend, I captured a few key takeaways that resonated with me coming out of the event.

Data is critical for product management.

Either overtly or discretely, each session touched on the importance of leveraging data. While not a new theme, I found it compelling that data remained integral to product management discussions and equally relevant to date. The broad disparity in the maturity of organizations, specifically around their view of analytics, became clear to me. A significant number of organizations rely on client direction, experience, and gut feel, to plan product investments. While organizational leaders recognize the value of the data, the potential for a skills gap in the industry becomes very real with the teams in place lacking the knowledge required to manage data or analytics properly.

At Devbridge, we use a bespoke toolset, the Devbridge Apollo suite. The toolset underpins our product delivery process and provides open access to data for the team and clients throughout the product lifecycle. For organizations seeking guidance on data metrics and delivery, I’d encourage you to read our white paper on product metrics.

Product as a discipline is broad.

Simply looking at the event agenda shows that product as an industry has matured. The lineup included talks on product vision, the build, crypto, product management, speed, data, and more. New opportunities have emerged for those interested or working in the field (e.g., vision and strategy, analytics, technical delivery, or product research). It’s impossible for one person to be able to adequately cover all the bases and excel in all avenues of product. As a result, product professionals may be better suited to deepen their expertise in specific areas. Similarly, organizations need to be clear on their skills pool when making decisions about hiring or partnering with others.

Devbridge uses dedicated cross-functional teams that work collaboratively with in-house groups. This structure ensures that the right mix of skills is always available to provide the strong skillset and depth of knowledge when and where our clients need it. You can read about what we do and how we do it in The Secret Source, written by Devbridge President and co-founder Aurimas Adomavicius. It’s an excellent resource for product managers, product designers, or engineers looking to improve delivery with a proven methodology. You can read the book free online or download it on Amazon or Apple Books.

Diverse thought expands design and gets results.

Building Products with Purpose with Clara Liang (VP and GM at Airbnb) and Anne Diaz (Product Leader at Airbnb) and Inclusive Decision-Making to Drive Product Retention with Sharmeen Browarek Chapp (VP of Product at Twitch) and Laura Teclemariam (Director of Product at Netflix) gave great insight to the importance of a diverse approach to product management. The two sessions demonstrated the link between diversity in thought from product teams leading to a more inclusive product design and a broader (and bigger) client base. Their stories underscored the impact of product and product managers on society and the enterprise’s bottom line.

While not easy, challenging the status quo and experimenting opens up new opportunities and lines of business for enterprises and product teams. At Devbridge, we use an iterative build, measure, learn model. We call upon cross-functional team expertise to try well-thought-out, new approaches, learn from failure, and build upon our successes.

The future is bright for product people.

I left ProductCon pleased to be part of a dynamic field with ever-expanding opportunities. The industry shows great promise with widening career paths, rising salaries, and the chance to have an impact on society. Devbridge is growing fast and hiring. View our open roles and apply here.

As the Product Manifesto defines a new era for product management, organizations need to develop, hire, and retain diverse talent to build meaningful products. Deliberate focus on education, tooling, and partnership is more important than ever. Product teams with the right mix of varied skills in place hold the promise to face challenges and deliver impactful products.

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