Q&A with Expert Product Managers: Jason Pace from Alkami Technology
Welcome to the third installation of our product management interview series, where successful product folks across various verticals share where the PM industry is going, how to overcome challenges, and general advice. If you missed our second interview with Patrick Haig with TUNE, we recommend giving it a read, as well!
As mobile engagement continues to increase, companies across all industries have shifted product strategy to push their mobile experience toward the top. The product management world has gone mobile, and PMs have had to adjust to strategic changes big and small.
To explore what’s changed and what’s next for product managers, we’re bringing you the best minds in product management to share their thoughts on what’s top-of-mind, and where the industry is going. Today, we’re excited to bring you thoughts from Jason Pace, Technical Product Manager at Alkami Technology. Here’s what Jason had to say!
Q: How did you get into product management?
Most of my career has been spent in mobile and .NET development, which led to management on the development side. Our company decided to create Technical Product Manager roles and shift the developer roles to more traditional people management, so I took the plunge into the product team to stay involved technically on our products.
Q: How do you think mobile product managers’ roles in the organization are changing?
I think quite a few industries have moved to more of a mobile-first thought process in recent years due to capabilities of the devices everyone carries around with them all day and to engage the up-and-coming generations of users. From a product perspective, this moves the mobile product teams into much more visionary roles and drives newer backend development to built for the needs of the mobile applications being designed and built. It also leads to challenges trying to build products that serve entirely different needs using legacy APIs that probably don’t accommodate those needs well.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face as a mobile PM? How do you overcome them?
A few things come to mind here.
One, the ever-evolving devices and capabilities available to the consumer. In addition, choosing which of these capabilities to try and be first to market in, and which to sit back and let the market dictate when or if you address the new technologies at your disposal.
Second is more of a follow up to question two. We struggle regularly with APIs that aren’t “mobile friendly” or don’t meet the needs of our roadmap efforts. That leads to a lot of cross-functional begging and pleading for prioritization of other development teams and can stall efforts to move large scale projects forward on original timelines.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you want to give to other mobile PMs?
One of the biggest mistakes I see is assuming that people want to do everything on their mobile phones. Tailor your mobile experience to the needs of users on the go. They know how to go a standard website to perform tasks that don’t make sense to complete on a phone.
Q: What are you looking ahead to in 2018?
I’m personally interested to see what gains the voice systems such as Google Home and Alexa make in the market. Will this just be a toy in the home, or will we start to see a real focus on functionality available to users in their homes with voice assistants?
Q: What’s your favorite way to stay up to date on all things product management? (publication, blog, newsletter, etc)
I typically spend more time keeping up with our industry vs the discipline itself, but any web publication that find’s its way to me that is of interest, I’ll certainly read.
Q: With no resource constraints, if I could work on any app, it would be [fill in the blank]. Why?
This is a tough one for me because I generally like innovative and disruptive projects. I would probably pick something that is trying to disrupt in their industry, whether that be a startup app or an older industry trying to innovate in the digital space.
Q: I feel [fill in the blank] without my smartphone.
Most of the time uncomfortable would be the word. On vacation though, I’m a big fan of getting off the grid as much as possible!
Q: Android or iOS?
I’ve been an iOS user since the first iPhone.
Q: What does customer love mean to you?
Customers are who we build our apps for, so we want to give them what they want and need, while empathizing with their struggles and frustrations. For me it’s not necessarily the mantra of the customer is always right, but do everything with the customer in mind.
A huge thank you to Jason for taking the time to share his thoughts. Stay tuned for the next interview soon, and check out our first interview with Francis Brown from Alaska Airlines, and second interview with Patrick Haig from TUNE.