What Does a Data Product Manager Do?

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You may already be familiar with what a product manager does. Typically, they serve as the point person for product development. A product manager uses data to map product strategies, design processes, launches, and ongoing maintenance. 

While a data product manager’s function is closely related to these responsibilities, there are some key differences. Instead of merely using data, aggregated information plays a more significant role for data product managers. But what exactly does a data product manager do, and how do they benefit organizations?

What Does a Data Product Manager Do

What is Data Product Management?

Product managers manage the product lifecycle from concept to maintenance and eventual retirement. But data product management involves more than just oversight and the use of data to guide cyclical lifecycles. Data product managers are responsible for designing and overseeing the information influencing product decisions.

Think of it like this. A product manager needs data from various sources, including market research, to determine what solutions clients need. However, a conventional product manager doesn’t concern themselves with how that data comes into the organization or how it’s streamlined for use. A data product manager does. 

This data management includes using artificial intelligence and automation to sync various information sources, databases, and platforms. A data product manager ensures the organization optimizes the information it receives, uses, and analyzes. After all, product development and lifecycle decisions won’t be on target if the data that influences those choices is poor or misleading.

What Are Some of the Ways Data Product Managers Use Data?

Data product managers use data to benefit product development lifecycles in several ways. One of the most influential things they do is gather and analyze market research. This research isn’t limited to generalized data either. It can also include information on direct and indirect competitors and existing customers. 

A data product manager might also seek to gather insights from former customers and qualified leads who didn’t make purchases. Some of the market research that data product managers engage in may include beta testing or launching product trials in select test markets. 

Other data-driven activities include creating buyer personas, establishing key performance indicators, performing split testing, and presenting data to stakeholders. While marketing departments often have a say in creating buyer personas, data product managers work with directors and other marketing staff to refine them. 

Are Data Product Managers Needed?

Some might argue that general product managers are all an organization needs. However, launching and offering the right solutions often wield significant influence over a company’s success or failure. When a business doesn’t understand its market or properly use information, its products may not take off.

Furthermore, product teams need to closely sync their activities and maintain a single source for accurate data information. When data silos form, their existence can jeopardize how a company develops and maintains market offerings. Some contributors may not have access to the same data or be unsure how to gain access without having to jump through many hoops.

This difference in access might mean part of the team is working with incomplete or wrong information. As a result, the work of the team members may not sync up with other contributors’ efforts, and the possibilities for animosity, conflict, and confusion increase. Data product managers help ensure everyone’s on the same page, data quality remains high, and product decisions are more accurate. 

Can You Study to Become a Data Product Manager?

If you’re already a product manager with a technical bent, you may not need a degree program to transition. However, you can benefit from courses in creating data infrastructures and leveraging data in product designs. If you don’t have a background in product management or data analysis, you might want to pursue a degree.

Alternatives to two or four-year degrees include continuing education programs in data product management. These programs take less time and will train you for the role of a data product manager. If you already have a different degree or want to make a career change, these programs can help you transition faster.

Before you Go

A data product manager takes on a slightly different role from a conventional product manager. They oversee product lifecycles, plus the information and workflows that shape them. A data product manager role can be a fulfilling career for those who enjoy combining their technical and creative mindsets.

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