The contemporary business world is being reshaped by an invisible yet relentless force – artificial intelligence (AI). As we navigate this era of rapid digital transformation, we increasingly understand that the path to future success is laden with AI-enabled technologies. This powerful wave of change is particularly noticeable in the realm of software development, where AI has made faster, cheaper, and higher-quality development a reality.

However, in this exciting new landscape, it is crucial to underscore one element of business that is becoming more critical than ever: commercial product management. Traditionally, in some start-ups and even in some scale-ups, product management has often been relegated to being an “order taker” for sales. But in a world where AI enables us to build almost anything, we must remember that the key to success is not just building features faster but building the right features.

Why CxOs Need a Commercial Product Management Function? 

1.    Building the Right Features: AI can accelerate the pace of software development, but it cannot determine what should be developed (at least not yet). That’s where commercial product management comes into play. The team’s primary role is to understand customer needs, market trends, and business objectives, translating these into a coherent and viable product strategy. It’s not just about being faster; it’s about being smarter and making data-driven decisions on which features will create the highest value for clients, embracing constraints rather than ignoring them.

2.    Avoiding Bloated Products: As software development accelerates, the risk of product bloat increases. In a rush to deliver new features and keep up with competitors, companies may lose sight of their product’s core purpose – the key jobs to be done it is supposed to do for customers. Without a robust product management function, products can become unfocused and diluted, decreasing customer value. Commercial product management prevents this by focusing on the product’s profit & loss and its purpose; ensuring new features align with it.

3.    Driving Customer Value: Successful product management is about creating value for the customer first, and in turn, value for the business. This is not achievable by merely taking orders from sales or developing features at breakneck speed. It requires a deep understanding of the customer, continuous market research, and strategic alignment with business goals. Commercial product management champions these aspects, becoming the bridge between customers, business (sales & marketing), and technology.

AI and Commercial Product Management: A Perfect Symbiosis

Commercial product management and AI are not competitors; they are synergistic forces. AI is a powerful tool that can empower product management in myriad ways. It can provide valuable insights into customer behaviour, help forecast market trends, and enhance decision-making with predictive analytics.

Without guidance from strong commercial product management functions, AI-supported development risks creating bloated Frankenstein products focused on technical capability rather than customer value. Understanding and managing the product lifecycle is key. Because although a product is never done (until its end of life). The investment envelope will change and should get smaller when the product reaches maturity, and the business maximises its investment. AI can support this by providing insights and capabilities to product management supporting data analysis and decision support.

Companies that can marry the speed and efficiency of AI-powered development with the strategic vision of commercial product management will have the edge. CEOs must invest in building strong product management functions that can navigate the AI landscape and ensure that their products remain focused, relevant, and valuable to their customers. What are the jobs to be done that your product uniquely addresses?

In this exciting era, the wisdom experienced commercial product management brings, should act as a beacon that ensures we are not just building features faster but the right features that create the most value for our customers. AI will speed up the journey, but commercial product management will ensure we are heading in the right direction. I would love to hear if you agree or disagree with this and if your product managers whether you feel you have the coating and support you need to deliver to this expectation. 


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