June 16, 2023

Embracing AI: The New Frontier for Product Management

There's a strange sort of symmetry to life sometimes. The week I got laid off from Rouse Services due to budget cuts was the same week that OpenAI launched ChatGPT-4. Out of curiosity sparked by online discussions, I decided to give it a try. I was not prepared to have my worldview shattered.

Describing this as a revolution doesn't do it justice.

Entering the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) was a bit like relocating from the ever-buzzing New York City to the serene landscapes of Colorado. It was intense, exhilarating, and loaded with opportunities. Instead of fearing that AI would implode society, I found myself envisioning it as a powerful companion – in my personal life and my professional journey as a product manager.

The intricacies of AI are undeniable. Yet, as I started unraveling these complexities, understanding how large language models function and their current boundaries, it felt less daunting. Experimenting with a few Llama models from HuggingFace on my RTX 3080, I found the performance comparable to ChatGPT-3.5. There are even accounts of people getting it to work on outdated smartphones!

This exploration got me thinking – how will AI impact the field of product management?

It’s easy to fall into the narrative that AI will usher in a world of mass unemployment and societal unrest. But as I learned more about how it actually works, the more I started to see AI as a unifying force, similar to how the Colorado River connects different landscapes. It serves as a bridge, linking technology and business, fostering human empathy, and ultimately working to bring people closer together rather than apart.

Product Management, like the tech it revolves around, is always evolving. Today's interpretation of the role is vastly different from the dot-com era of the '90s. As trends come and go, we PMs always adapt. AI, however, is not just a trend; it's a substantial shift, a fresh trail we're paving in the industry. It’s a journey demanding patience and tenacity, but one I'm confident is worth the effort.

So, let me share a few predictions on how AI will shape our field if you'll indulge me:

1. Automating Repetitive Tasks: With AI, mundane tasks like data collection, aggregation, and analysis could become automated. I foresee a world where AI is able to generate JIRA tickets automatically just based on meeting notes it has access to. The PMs would still review the tickets, the so much time is now freed up.

2. Advanced User Insights: Understanding user behavior is vital in our field. AI, with its ability to process massive datasets, can provide deeper, more accurate consumer insights. Insights that would have taken a data scientist weeks to investigate and report. And now startups without data scientists can now better compete.

3. Streamlined Communication: The diverse array of stakeholders in product management can sometimes make effective communication a challenge. AI can help translate technical jargon into plain language, facilitating smoother communication between different teams. This would lead to more efficient processes, better understanding, and ultimately, better products.

The impact of AI on product management is vast. It's a new adventure, a challenge, but also an ally. In the end, I think we'll find that embracing AI is less like a machine takeover, and more like gaining a new team member, ready to help us reach new heights in our profession. Let’s embrace the journey and see where this path leads us.

Or perhaps Skynet takes over. Time will tell.