Start as an AI Product Manager With The Right Tactics

Original article can be found here (source): Artificial Intelligence on Medium

Start as an AI Product Manager With The Right Tactics

How to become a crowned Product Manager for AI products?

Being an AI Product Manager I can definitely say it feels like having a feather on the cap. I receive a lot of DM’s from individuals who wish to transition their career as AI PM. As obvious it may sound and technically as well it includes other distinct technology like Machine Learning, NLP, Cognitive Computing name a few.

Why are most of the companies hiring PM with expertise in AI?

  1. AI is highly strategic in nature: Any AI effort will rely on three main building blocks: data, infrastructure, and talent.
  2. Succeeding with AI requires different technical toolbox from conventional software products. The recruiters mainly focus on candidates more than just tech or business folks.

The fact is, there is massive scope for every company using AI. As such, AI PMs need to be strategic. They need to be aware of the general industry trends. Product Managers need to enhance their skills in order to develop and provide functional requirements and AI-powered specifications to data engineering and data science teams.

Listed below are a couple of questions that I receive from individuals globally which can be beneficial for Business Analysts, Project Managers, Software Managers and any role where you make decisions for technology teams or anyone who wishes to transition their career into Product Management(Specifically in AI).

How many years of expertise do you need to become a Product Manager?

Product Managers are individuals who work on a Product right from ideation to execution. I would rather say an entire Life Cycle as you will get real-time analytics once you see the customers interacting with the product and you have real-time analytics. As such if you perceive yourself as a ‘High Enthu Cutlet’ who is always curious to know what’s happening around and what is the impact, you can start as an APM or a Product Analyst right when you start your career.

I started my career as a Business Analyst. I got my hands dirty on a lot of technical stuff. While I loved being more technical, however, I knew that I wanted to work on building a product more directly. I started to gravitate towards tasks that I later learned were traditionally filled by a product manager — including deciding feature milestones, giving presentations on progress, and advocating for the user. This gave me an inkling that maybe Business Analysis wasn’t the right position for me (I was actually told by the Founder of a renowned company that I was more like a wannabe Business Analyst and I was not paying attention to my real skill.)

Hustle into Product

Product Managers are Jack of All Trades and Master Of One. For me, it has been what’s to be built and in what order basically roadmapping as prioritization as my strength. The product manager’s primary job is to become a master in understanding his customers!

You may not have enough knowledge and essential product management skills at the very start of your career. It doesn’t really matter. The reason you want to turn to the product management world can be different:

  1. It can be a marketing person who wants to get closer to the product.
  2. You’re a developer who wants to discover your collaborative, communicative, organizational and sales & marketing skills.
  3. You’re a thirty-year-old professional, tired of your daily routine, so you just want to turn your career path in a completely different direction

.… and so on and so forth.

Challenge yourself and train yourself so that you can fit into anyone’s shoes. The reason why Product Managers are also called ‘Mini CEO’s’.

Given that product managers regularly use data to support their hypothesis about new features, where do they fit into the AI equation?

Understanding the Domain you wish to be in. Being aware of the general Industry Trends. Understand the viability of integrating AI in the product. As PM’s it is very important to analyze whether a particular problem statement would like an AI SOLUTION. If AI would be the much-needed solution, the next step is to tactically understand how the integration should take place.

How different is it to be an AI Product Manager compared to a normal PM?

As Product Managers in any vertical and any domain is equally challenging. We as PM’s device solution for a Problem Statement. The suggestion/ideation can happen when you have a knack on the subject. Current and ongoing trends in the industry and past trends when amalgamated together can help you drive a solution. Research and Learn endlessly will help you be a master.

As AI PM, you need to know the domain you are in. Be part of competitions on KAGGLE, KDNUGGETS, etc. Create your own team with fellow co-workers and taken organize a basic competition. Follow AI communities, Forum, to know the latest trends(I can make a list of the forums which you can follow).

I’d like to leave you with three core lessons that I’ve learned from the process:

  1. Start anywhere and keep moving forward — Any experience is a good experience. Work on interesting projects, travel when you can and expose yourself to great people. These experiences compound and will help you grow personally and professionally.
  2. Doing > Learning — I learned early on that executing is a much better use of time than learning. If you want to do UX Design, for example, redesigning your favorite app will provide a much larger return than taking courses.
  3. Take your career (and life) one step at a time — Your 10-year plan is daunting and should be subject to change. Think about what you want to work on today and in the next 6 months, this will lead you to a more authentic career path rather than chasing vanity metrics or titles.

CONCLUSION

These last four years have been a really exciting part of my life. I’ve learned a ton, met great people and dealt with quite a few challenges. I’m thankful for all the support I’ve had from friends, family and just plain luck. I’m looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life soon and I would be really grateful to assist anyone further.