"The Role of a Product Manager: Connecting the Dots in the Technovate Era"



Aug 15, 2023 • 4 min read


"The Role of a Product Manager: Connecting the Dots in the Technovate Era"

In today's rapidly evolving technological landscape, the role of a product manager has become more crucial than ever before. No longer is a project considered complete upon its release; instead, it requires constant updates and improvements to stay ahead of the curve. This shift has given rise to the need for Product Development Managers (PDMs) who can effectively navigate the ever-changing demands of users and the market.

One common challenge faced by product managers is balancing the priorities of engineers and users. In cases where the engineering team holds a dominant position, there is a risk of creating products that prioritize what the engineers want to build rather than what the users actually need. This misalignment can impede the monetization efforts, as the product may fail to resonate with the target audience. On the other hand, if the design aspect is weak and disregards the user's perspective, it can result in poor user interfaces and inefficient user experiences. The key responsibility of a PDM is to understand these three critical areas - engineering, user needs, and design - and strike a balance between them.

To gain a deeper understanding of the role of a product manager, let's examine some commonalities between successful business models. One such example is the renowned furniture retailer, IKEA, and a traditional Korean barbecue restaurant. At first glance, these two businesses appear to be worlds apart, but they both share a common principle - involving the customer in the process.

In the case of IKEA, customers are actively engaged in assembling furniture pieces, thus reducing the company's operational costs. This unique approach not only fosters a sense of ownership but also enables IKEA to offer affordable products without compromising on quality. Similarly, a Korean barbecue restaurant encourages customers to cook their own meat, creating an interactive and enjoyable dining experience. By involving the customers in the process, both businesses not only save on labor costs but also create a unique value proposition that sets them apart from competitors.

Another key aspect to consider is the role of customer involvement in advertising. A prime example of this is the famous Japanese cram school, "Tokyo Shingaku." Their business model revolves around empowering students to become the face of the brand. Through word-of-mouth marketing and testimonials, these students promote the institution, attracting new customers and establishing credibility. This approach allows the school to allocate fewer resources to traditional advertising methods while leveraging the power of personal recommendations.

As a product manager, it is essential to recognize the significance of involving customers in various aspects of the product journey, including development, marketing, and even post-purchase experiences. By actively engaging users, businesses can tap into their insights and preferences, resulting in products and services that align more closely with their needs.

To excel in the role of a product manager, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Foster a user-centric mindset: Always prioritize the needs and desires of the end-users. Conduct thorough market research, gather user feedback, and incorporate their insights into the product development process. This approach will help create products that resonate with the target audience and drive customer satisfaction.
  • 2. Bridge the gap between engineering and design: Strive for a harmonious balance between the technical aspects of product development and the user experience. Collaborate closely with the engineering and design teams to ensure that the final product aligns with both functionality and aesthetics.
  • 3. Embrace customer involvement: Find innovative ways to involve customers throughout the product journey. Whether it's through co-creation, user testing, or user-generated content, actively engaging customers can lead to valuable insights and foster a sense of ownership and loyalty.

In conclusion, the role of a product manager in the technovate era is multifaceted and challenging. Balancing the priorities of engineers, user needs, and design is crucial for creating successful products. By embracing customer involvement and fostering a user-centric mindset, product managers can navigate the ever-evolving landscape and drive business growth. Remember, the key lies in finding the right balance and continuously iterating to meet the ever-changing demands of the market.


  1. "プロダクトマネージャーとは?テクノベート時代のリーダーの役割を考える #2 | GLOBIS 知見録", (Glasp)
  2. "「これがわかれば社長になれる」IKEAと焼肉屋と公文式にある"儲けの共通点" ビジネスモデルの要点を考える (2ページ目)", https://president.jp/articles/-/45228?page=2 (Glasp)

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