Interviews and Reviews

Navigating Technology Product Management: A Deep Dive with Industry Expert Ritika Saini

Ritika is a product management leader whose career spans over a decade focused on delivering compelling products in compute technologies, cloud infrastructure, and enterprise SaaS applications space within leading technology companies. She holds a specialized role in the technology landscape, with a background covering the entire technology stack, from infrastructure to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). With a deep understanding of enterprise ecosystems, she is an expert in integrating and optimizing technology solutions to drive scalable business growth. She has played a critical role in delivering multiple high-impact products to enterprise customers worldwide.

In this interview, Ritika shares her expertise providing actionable insights that technical product leaders can leverage to succeed in the enterprise technology space.

Question 1: Welcome Ritika. We are excited to learn from your product management experience, can you please share how you started your  Technology product management journey?

Absolutely and thank you for having me! The early seeds of my career in technology product management were planted serendipitously during my first job as an industrial engineer working at one of India’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturers. Focusing on the engineering implementation aspect of manufacturing new vehicles, I grew extremely curious about who decided what to build and why we were building something. It was fascinating to uncover the customer demands and business objectives behind each product line in the factory.

I decided to pursue an MBA at Mays Business School, Texas A&M University, looking for formal education in the business side of things. During my MBA, I got into the product management world as an intern for enterprise storage. This role was a true ‘aha’ moment for me. I saw firsthand how products are conceptualized, developed, and launched. I realized that product management was where I wanted to focus my career. Over the past decade, this decision has been the most rewarding one, allowing me to lead the launches of multiple high-impact products.

Question 2: You’ve held prominent roles at major billion dollar Tech companies, what is the key to building new products that meet customer needs?

The key to building successful products is ruthlessly prioritizing solving customer’s pain points. You have to not only ask the customers what they want but analyze these wants to define what they actually need. At AWS, when I wrote the initial business case for AWS GameKit for game developers, I centered my approach on understanding the long-term trends in gaming and cloud technology. This involved continuous market research, customer feedback, and adapting quickly to technological evolution and customer needs. By keeping a close tab on customer problems a product manager can deliver products that not only solve the immediate pain points but delights the customers by anticipating future challenges.

Question 3: Speaking of customer feedback, what are some ways to collect and integrate it into your product development process?

You can get creative with how you bring customer feedback to the center of product development.

In my career, I have leveraged everything from traditional ways of collecting user feedback like surveys, focus groups, and conjoint studies to ad-hoc slack polls in external user channels, incorporating direct feedback buttons inside the app, and 1×1 interviews. I have also created customer advisory boards to not just bring along users in the product development journey for feedback but also to make them a part of our extended team. When it comes to customer feedback, as many channels of communication you can have is better. User insights will help you course correct and ensure your products truly resonate with customer needs and ease their pain points.

Question 4: Can you comment on how you think emerging technologies like AI and machine learning will influence product management in the technology space?

That’s a really good question, this is something that is top of mind for me these days.  I think that emerging technologies like AI will be a powerful tool for product managers. From obvious implementations to make products better for customers this tool will also find a place in making product management function more effective by freeing up time spent on undifferentiated tasks. If I were to break down the product manager’s key tasks they would fall into 4 broad areas: understanding customer/market research, defining product requirements and maintaining roadmaps, launching the product, and sustaining the products. All four of these areas can benefit from the incorporation of AI tools. For example, a lot of manual tasks like collecting and categorizing customer feedback can be offloaded to AI so product teams can focus on deriving insights from the feedback. AI can quickly distill the key themes emerging from big surveys and user studies allowing time for translating the themes into valuable solutions. Essentially if used correctly AI can be used to improve the time to value for product managers allowing them to quickly work on competitive and relevant products.

Question 5: Lastly, what advice would you give to other product managers in the enterprise tech space?

My biggest piece of advice is to remain relentlessly curious and also have an ownership mindset. Define and track outcomes as only the things that are measured can be improved. The tech landscape is constantly evolving, and staying abreast of new technologies, consumer trends, and industry shifts is crucial for shaping new products. Also, don’t shy away from technical details; understanding the nitty-gritty can significantly impact your ability to make informed decisions and lead your teams effectively.

Ritika, thank you for sharing your invaluable insights and experiences with us. Readers can reach out to Ritika on linkedin to connect.


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