You can’t research every topic, but there’s nothing stopping you from thinking aloud. While we investigate PM tools, it’s hard to miss the shadow of another question falling across us: Is the information management part of product management getting harder?

Naturally, my own experience in product management is part of the inspiration for that question–but only part. There are "grand historical" forces at work in the technology industry (TI) that, I suspect, increase the inherent complexity of product requirements, release management, product marketing, and other aspects of the PM’s job. Off the top of my head, here are just a few:

  • The increasing number of new, connected technologies. Fifteen years ago, a CRM system stood on its own. Today, it’s connected to an identity management system and e-mail servers. It delivers content to mobile devices. Increasingly sophisticated BI tools need interfaces to the CRM application, often using technologies that didn’t exist 15 years ago. And so on.
  • The increasing importance of user experience. Not only has user experience design grown more sophisticated, but user experience has become increasingly important. In the shift from IT to BT, user experience–critical for demonstrating that technology addresses immediate needs–can make or break software adoption.  User habits can vary across verticals. Gone are the days when a company can remain competitive by designing a lot of back-end application logic, and then slapping a UI on it at the end of the development cycle.
  • On demand delivery. Software as a service (SaaS) changes the choice of features, the development cycle, sales and marketing techniques, and other aspects of traditional TI. It also may attract a completely different type of customer, which means you may have to go back to the beginning of the requirements and design process for a new SaaS venture to succeed.

Before going into other sources of increasing complexity–and there are several others I can think of–it’s worth stopping here to ask whether you’ve faced similar challenges. If so, the implications are…Significant. (That was a pregnant pause, by the way.)