Are data science and UX design the ultimate product manager’s secret weapons? Find out.

In business, the product is the key to success. A lot of time, effort, and skill need to go into the design and manufacture of this product to ensure that it really is what the customer wants and needs. This is why the role of the product manager is so vital throughout the lifespan of developing a new product.

Data Science and UX Design Power Duo

What Does The Product Manager Do?

Product management is a fairly wide field, with a number of different positions falling under the umbrella term. In the plainest terms, the product manager is the person who researches potential products, analyzes what the market needs, and forecasts the potential success of the product. Additionally, they assist with the development and manufacturing processes, work on the marketing of the product, and keep track of how well it is doing in the market.

As you can see, this is a vast area of business that covers everything from initial concept through after-sales monitoring and research. It would be impossible for one person to be an expert in all of these fields and ensure that the product is performing as well as it could be. This is why the field is broken into various roles:

  1. The Data Product Manager—This is the more analytical aspect of the job. This PM will need to be good at forecasting, seeing market trends, and planning accordingly for development and sales. Their role is also very much entrenched in data analytics and using data science to guide their decisions.
  2. The Business Product Manager—A PM in this role needs to understand the financial and operational side of the business, as well as being able to effectively communicate with all the various stakeholders. In this case, a product manager’s skills center on seeing how the product will impact the business long-term.
  3. The Design Product Manager—This type of PM is very hands on in the actual development and creation of the product. They need to understand how the product should look and work according to the user experience.
  4. The Tech Product Manager—Working with and understanding the latest tech is an essential part of product design these days. A PM fulfilling this role will have a good understanding of technology and how to work with the engineers who are developing the product.
  5. The Growth Product Manager—Supply and demand is the area where this PM shines. They need to be able to foresee what problems there could be in the manufacturing process that could lead to issues with getting it to the customers.

Not all product manager skills require the need to be hands on with the creation of the product. However, it’s clear that they all need to understand every part of the research, development, production, and distribution phases.

When it comes to the actual design, having the ability to bring all the research and data analytics into the process is critical for product success.

Bringing Data Science And UX Design Together As A Product Manager

Data science and UX design are often seen as two opposing methods of research.

One is far more scientific, and the other is based on experiential information. The people doing the research often have very different skill sets to the other, purely because of the method of research and analytics that’s carried out.

  • Data Science—This is the research method that includes looking at processes, algorithms, and statistics to create tangible information on how a product is likely to work in the real world. It’s all about analytics and interpreting them.
  • User Experience—This research method is more focused on human interactions and how the product will integrate into a person’s life. It’s a design process that looks at how customers will experience the product.

However, there is a new school of thought that the two could be brought together to create a well-rounded set of research data that can help throughout the process of product management.

How To Marry The Data And The Experience

It’s quite simple once you realize that data science is useful in informing your starting point and further points throughout the UX design process. Through data science, you can gain valuable insights into who your target audience is and how they are likely to react to different scenarios. This can then inform decisions you make in terms of user experience on the new product development.

With data science, you are generally dealing with large quantities of information that’s fed into programs that analyze it. The software will look for recurring trends and patterns, which the analysts can then derive meaning from. They show the statistical likelihood of a customer wanting or needing a product. These statistics help you make better decisions on whether or not to push forward with development.

The usefulness of data science doesn’t end there, however. Once you have your likely customer personas, you can crunch the numbers on how they will use the product as well as a whole host of other simulations. This can be used to inform the actual design from a user experience point of view.

The process of UX design is all about examining how the customer will interact with the product, what pain points the product will solve, and how to create something that the customer will have an emotional connection with. Using the information generated by the data scientists, a UX designer can more accurately go about their job.

A product manager’s skills should include having a good handle on both of these areas—data science and UX design. This will allow them to see the bigger picture and appropriately direct those actually creating the product. It’s also important for the product manager to be able to understand the analytics and then to communicate what this means in the real world for the product.

When you combine the right product manager skills with UX, you bring a whole new element into the process. Product managers that understand the importance of data and UX and can combine the two successfully are a powerful tool in getting a great product to market.


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