Tired of generic 2021 predictions about remote work, cloud, and data? Here are 10 specific trends to consider in your growth strategy:
In many industries, sales is used to ‘selling’ the vision of the product in advance of it being built, and customers assume vapourware by default. No one bats an eye because we’re accustomed to the idea that engineering will always be able to fulfill whatever we’re selling, given enough time and money.
New technologies like machine learning and blockchain offer a world of possibilities, but many of these possibilities may not actually be able to be implemented in practice, even with a huge budget. It's easy to promise "The product will automatically predict X with high accuracy." where X could be anything from detecting a security breach to predicting stock prices to finding the perfect outfit for you wear. But even if the prototype is already 70% accurate, it may never get to 80%, or whatever you need it to be to be commercially viable.
AI/ML has the potential to deliver incredible value to customers. A single breakthrough can make a product company's growth soar. A fine-tuned model can completely transform an enterprise's operations.
The mechanics of delivering such a program are very similar to traditional projects on the face of it, so it is tempting to think of the implementation as being the easy part. But because of the non-deterministic nature of AI/ML, all the pitfalls of ordinary software development programs - misaligned objectives, underestimation, lack of process, skimping on QA, ignoring risks, etc. - are amplified x10. To deliver successfully, you need to ratchet up the program diligence.
From research and prototyping to commercial development, AI/ML requires making decisions and trade-off's. This is where the PM needs to provide loads of context to the R&D team: what are the customer problem(s) are that we are trying to solve? What parameters and trade-off's would be acceptable to a customer? Have we considered the cost trade-offs of operating in practice?
There is a strong and immediate demand for Data Science in ALL industries, but a limited supply of qualified data science talent, and a fuzzy understanding of how data science actually works. It’s 'black magic' that companies are paying a ridiculous premium for today (see here, here and here). In a noisy job market, how do you build your own AI / ML / data science team?