Product Management Will Be Taken Over By AI in 5 years

Freedom Preetham
The Simulacrum
Published in
8 min readFeb 1, 2024

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Product management jobs will be gone in less than 5 years! Yes, that’s the prediction.

The landscape of product management is on the cusp of a revolutionary transformation, driven by the relentless advancements in artificial intelligence (AI). As we project into the next five years, a profound question emerges: Will the traditional role of the product manager become a relic of the past, subsumed by the inexorable tide of AI and redistributed among other pivotal roles within organizations? This contemplation is not just speculative; it’s a realistic forecast of a rapidly approaching future.

Does the Author Have any Clue About Product Management?

Most often, when one writes about a role based on merit, invariably the debate turns into argument-by-authority. Nevertheless, to avoid such fallacies it’s imperative to state what I have done in Product Leadership roles.

As a notable achievement, I spearheaded the development of Brand and Commerce products from the ground up, achieving a $300 million portfolio in less than six years in my role as a Product Leader at a prominent deep-tech unicorn (If you check my LinkedIn, it shall be obvious).

At Kena, I led the creation of an AI-driven music education marketplace, attracting 350,000 users to the platform in under four years. Currently, at Cognit, I am at the helm of developing the Large Genomic Model, laying the groundwork for an AI-powered platform in Genomics.

In all these endeavors, my leadership spanned across envisioning product strategy, crafting roadmaps, executing go-to-market plans, and driving commercial success. Testimonials, recommendations, and references highlighting my contributions are available on LinkedIn.

Also I have been in AI Research for two decades. You can check my contributions and publishings here.

The AI Takeover

The integration of AI into product management is transcending beyond mere task automation. AI’s capacity to process and analyze vast arrays of data, understand market trends, and predict consumer behaviors is poised to automate up to 80% of what constitutes today’s product management tasks. This seismic shift is not just about AI performing tasks faster and more efficiently than humans; it’s about AI fundamentally redefining these tasks.

AI does not just take over majority of product management tasks, but also business managers, program managers, UX, engineering managers etc. When this happens, the organizational roles get redefined where strategic, human cognition tasks that AI could not automate will get subsumed or fused into other roles.

AI systems are evolving to not only aggregate and analyze data but also to draw sophisticated insights and make predictive recommendations that were traditionally the bastion of human intellect. From identifying market gaps to predicting future trends, AI’s role is expanding into realms once thought to be exclusively human.

When AI automates a significant amount of tasks in all roles, those roles that have significant overlaps and are on the precipice will likely be redistributed to people focused on direct revenue ownership, a.k.a. business leaders, and those who directly build the product, a.k.a. engineers.

Time and specialization was a constraint for any single role to own multiple responsibilities. With AI dominance, that time will be given back significantly and specialization will be assisted so that roles can be fused and new rubrics can be created.

The Remaining Human Bastion

As AI reshapes the product management landscape, the quintessentially human aspects of this role gain prominence. The residual 20% of the role — involving strategic oversight, creative ideation, and intricate human interactions — becomes more critical than ever.

The human relation aspects of Product Management shall be restructured and subsumed by Business leaders, UX, Program Management and Engineering Management roles.

Business leaders will emerge as strategic orchestrators in this AI-driven environment. Their role will be to interpret and contextualize AI’s insights within the broader narrative of the company’s goals and market dynamics. This involves a nuanced understanding of not just where the market is today, but where it is headed tomorrow — a realm where human foresight and experience play irreplaceable roles.

UX leaders will become the custodians of the human experience. In a world increasingly driven by algorithms, the human-centric approach to product design and development will be paramount. The UX leader’s role will be to ensure that products resonate on an emotional and functional level with users, balancing AI’s logic with human empathy and creativity.

Engineers, interfacing closely with AI, will become pivotal in transforming strategic visions and UX designs into reality. Their role will evolve to include a deeper collaboration with AI, leveraging its insights to push the boundaries of innovation and technical feasibility.

The debate and prediction here is that the traditional product management role will be automated and what remains will be subsumed by other roles and new rubrics that will get created. The essence of product management — which is understanding market needs, aligning products with business strategies, and ensuring product success — would still need to be addressed, potentially by these transformed or new roles.

High-level overview of role redistribution

Role redistribution is not something new! Product management roles was always subsumed by different owners based on types and phase of orgs.

  1. Small Startups or Early-Stage Companies: Roles are less defined, with product management tasks often shared among founders, business managers, or lead engineers.
  2. Engineering-Driven Companies: Engineers often collaborate with business managers for product development, eliminating the need for separate product managers.
  3. Consulting Firms or Custom Development Agencies: Project managers or business analysts, instead of product managers, work with engineers to deliver client-specific solutions.
  4. Industries with Long Product Lifecycles: In sectors like aerospace or heavy engineering, project and business managers, along with engineers, handle product development due to extended product lifecycles.
  5. Companies with Highly Specialized Products: Technical experts or engineers lead product development, supported by business managers for strategic and operational guidance.
  6. Organizations with Strong Sales-Driven Cultures: Business development managers, in collaboration with engineering teams, lead product development, focusing on sales and customer relationships.

The New Paradigm

In this new era, the collaboration between AI and human expertise must be underpinned by ethical considerations and a commitment to continuous learning. As AI takes on more responsibilities, ensuring that it is guided by ethical principles and human oversight becomes crucial. This is where the strategic acumen of business leaders and the empathetic approach of UX leaders become indispensable.

Furthermore, as AI continues to evolve, so must the skills and understanding of all professionals involved. Continuous learning and adaptation will be key to leveraging AI’s capabilities effectively and responsibly.

A Synergistic Future

The impending dominance of AI in product management heralds a future that is not about the obsolescence of the human role but about the evolution and redistribution of responsibilities. It’s a future where AI and human expertise synergize to create products that are not only technologically advanced and data-driven but also deeply human and resonant with users’ needs and aspirations.

In this transformative journey, the dialogue between technology experts, business strategists, UX designers, and ethical thinkers becomes more crucial than ever. As we embrace this new era, let’s engage in a thought-provoking discussion on how we can navigate this paradigm shift, harnessing the strengths of AI while preserving and elevating the irreplaceable value of human insight and creativity. The road ahead is not just an AI journey; it’s a profoundly human one as well.

What Do Product Managers Do Mostly?

While, what a PM does varies from org to org and depending at what phase they are; at a high level this is what the responsibilities are:

  • Defining Product Vision and Strategy: Establishing long-term vision and strategy for the product based on market needs and opportunities.
  • Roadmap Planning: Developing a roadmap to outline the development and launch timeline for product features.
  • Feature Definition and Prioritization: Deciding and prioritizing product features based on customer needs, market trends, and technical feasibility.
  • Cross-functional Leadership: Leading diverse teams to ensure cohesive effort towards product goals.
  • Market and User Research: Conducting research to understand user needs and preferences for informed product development.
  • Product Development Oversight: Overseeing the product development process to ensure alignment with planned features and quality standards.
  • Go-to-Market Strategy: Collaborating on strategies for effective market entry and audience reach.
  • Performance Tracking and Optimization: Monitoring product performance post-launch and making improvements based on feedback and data.
  • Stakeholder Communication: Maintaining regular, informative communication with all stakeholders.
  • Problem-Solving and Decision-Making: Tackling challenges and making critical decisions for product success.

What Do Business Managers Do Mostly?

At a high level:

  • Strategic Planning: Developing and implementing long-term goals and growth strategies for the business.
  • Financial Management: Overseeing budgeting, forecasting, and financial planning, including analyzing financial statements and managing cash flow.
  • Operations Management: Ensuring smooth day-to-day operations, managing logistics, supply chains, and operational processes for enhanced efficiency.
  • Human Resources Management: Managing the workforce, including hiring, training, and developing policies in collaboration with HR.
  • Sales and Marketing Oversight: Overseeing sales and marketing strategies, managing customer relationships, and driving business growth.
  • Customer Service Management: Focusing on high customer satisfaction through effective customer service operations and experience strategies.
  • Problem-Solving and Decision-Making: Tackling complex challenges and making informed decisions affecting various business aspects.
  • Risk Management: Identifying, analyzing, and mitigating business risks and developing contingency plans.
  • Stakeholder Communication: Maintaining effective communication with all stakeholders about the company’s performance and strategies.
  • Compliance and Legal Oversight: Ensuring business compliance with laws and regulations, and managing legal matters.

What is the Major Overlap Between Product and Business Leadership?

  • Strategic Planning and Vision: Both roles require a strong understanding of the company’s strategic direction. Product managers must align their product strategy with the broader business strategy, while business managers need to ensure all aspects of the business support these strategic objectives. Overlap: High (around 60–70%).
  • Market Analysis and Customer Focus: Both roles necessitate a deep understanding of market trends and customer needs. Product managers focus on how these insights translate into product features, while business managers use this information for broader business decisions. Overlap: Moderate to High (around 50–60%).
  • Cross-functional Collaboration: Both roles involve working with various departments such as sales, marketing, R&D, and customer service. The nature of collaboration might differ, but the necessity to work across teams is common in both. Overlap: High (around 70–80%).
  • Financial Acumen: Financial understanding is important in both roles. Product managers need to manage product budgets and understand the financial impact of their decisions, while business managers oversee the overall financial health of the business. Overlap: Moderate (around 40–50%).
  • Decision-Making and Problem-Solving: Both roles require strong decision-making abilities and problem-solving skills, often in complex and dynamic environments. The context and scope of decisions might differ, but the skill set is similar. Overlap: Moderate to High (around 60–70%).
  • Performance Measurement and Optimization: Both roles involve setting and tracking KPIs, although the specific metrics might differ. Product managers focus on product-related metrics, while business managers look at broader business performance indicators. Overlap: Moderate (around 40–50%).
  • Leadership and Team Management: Leadership skills are essential in both roles, though the scale and scope might differ. Both need to manage teams, although a business manager might have a broader scope. Overlap: Moderate to High (around 50–60%).

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