Product Management in the Growing Blockchain Industry
Demand for Blockchain based jobs grew by 2000% from 2017 to 2020 -- growing nearly 3X greater compared to the next largest industry grower -- AI. Demand for product management positions in the Blockchain industry has grown at a similar rate, if not greater
Take for example an iPhone. It is the most successfully sold technological product in the world. Its success is undoubtedly thanks to the work of the product manager. Here are some questions that product managers both asked and answered continuously before the launch of the iPhone…
How do we ensure the satisfaction of the consumer?
How do we make it simple to use?
How will the iPhone outperform its top competitor Samsung? Through processing power or simplicity and aesthetic?
For what demographic do we market and create this product?
You can see that the role of the product manager is unique because it is essential for him to have a deep understanding of the product itself. The role is heavily integrated in both the process of production and the launching, branding, and selling of the final product. In brief, product managers are involved in both the technology and marketing of the product.
What the Product Manager Must Be Familiar With:
Technology of the product
The importance of a product manager is even greater for Blockchain products than for traditional products. Demand for Blockchain based jobs grew by 2000% from 2017 to 2020 -- growing nearly 3X greater compared to the next largest industry grower -- AI. Demand for product management positions in the Blockchain industry has grown at a similar rate, if not greater.
Blockchain based jobs outgrow machine learning jobs by nearly three times in the past 2 years.
A product manager in today’s Blockchain world must guide both the production and marketing of the product. Similar to the internet in the 90’s, most people don’t understand the role Blockchain will play in our future. A product manager in this growing industry will be involved in educating the public on the product as well as the Blockchain technology behind it.
With accelerated technological growth, the demand for Product Management Jobs out-paces overall U.S Jobs significantly.
The increase in both Blockchain job demands and Product Manager positions is no coincidence. As the number of new technological products and the rate of consumerism increases, so does the demand for product managers.
Who is demanding for product managers in the Blockchain space?
Big tech firms
Companies involved in
Some examples of such companies as described in the last bullet point above are Brave Browser and Zcash.
Brave Browser is an open source Blockchain-based web browser that blocks and filters online advertisements for its users. It is known for keeping data and information private and protected from website trackers. It also allows the user to view privacy respectful ads in return for cryptocurrency donations to the company. The company is yet to create a way for this cryptocurrency to be usable as digital money for the user’s own benefit.
Zcash is a cryptocurrency that boasts strong security through the Blockchain network. Zcash is known for its unhackability, which has gained a lot of attention from people who believe in the future of decentralization of currency (i.e. the absence of a third party such as a bank or PayPal to secure financial transactions) as well as strong, digital financial safety systems.
Product managers are essential for technological growth and for the future of product development, especially as Blockchain carries us into the next technological era. From a simple Blockchain job search on google, a large variety of different job positions pop up. Blockchain has the potential to be integrated into systems that support nearly all of modern living. Varying from health care, to real estate, to banking, Blockchain’s integration is creating jobs for a plethora of areas of profession.
Sectors where Blockchain is being applied to:
The role of a product manager has expanded beyond the technology sector, thanks to Blockchain development. In the healthcare industry, the product manager is just as responsible to understand the Blockchain-based healthcare product, as he is to understand the industry -- hospitals, pharmacies, consumers, etc.
Blockchain-based jobs often require the product manager to come from a background of the given industry as well as familiarity with the Blockchain space. Given the newness of Blockchain, most employers seeking product managers for Blockchain based positions do NOT require a professional understanding of Blockchain. Instead, the complex Blockchain network is primarily taught through the job. However, the job requires experience in the given sector of the company, Blockchain or not. While experience in Blockchain is certainly considered a plus, employers prefer to see experience in product management as well as industry comprehension.
Educating successful skilled laborers is not new. Integrating new technology into companies is usually done by educating experienced laborers rather than hiring new people. The same applies for product managers in the Blockchain space. Just as established doctors were taught to use the internet to expand networks and share information or Wall Street financial analysts were educated on the power of Excel and Microsoft Office, every Blockchain applicable industry will be seeking to do the same.
In a conference in late May 2020, Balaji Srinivasan -- a well known figure in the crypto and Blockchain space -- discusses the Blockchain education of skilled professionals. He commented: “What we haven’t done is asked experienced doctors and lawyers to educate themselves on machine learning and Blockchain frameworks, we’re yet to get all this information out of the brains of skilled people.” Though the process of educating the current, essential global workforce is notably slow, it is guaranteed to happen. It is evident in job listings, requirements and duties that hiring companies demand for experienced and skilled laborers with an emphasis of on-the-job professional education of Blockchain networks.
"What we haven’t done is asked experienced doctors and lawyers to educate themselves on machine learning and Blockchain frameworks, we’re yet to get all this information out of the brains of skilled people.”
Working as a product manager in the Blockchain industry can be exciting but also incredibly complex. Since Blockchain is experiencing both immense growth and change, the product manager is forced to constantly adapt, create and discover new ways to produce and sell the product. Working with Blockchain demands a close understanding of the backend team. The backend team is responsible for the physical construction and design of the product. The frontend team is responsible for the branding, marketing, and ultimate sale of the product.
The project manager is the liaison between the backend and the frontend team. The project manager must understand the limits, goals, and possibilities of the backend team. He must also communicate the goal of the product to the backend team. He must work with engineers, developers, and designers to create a product that the frontend team can sell.
Despite the growth of Blockchain, many of its products just don’t sell. The hype Blockchain has created led to crazy competition and a constant output of new products. A project manager must work hard to develop a unique and beneficial product and must ask questions like:
Is the design flawed?
Is the interface user friendly?
Is the product marketed to the right audience?
What is the best timing for the launch?
The ICO boom rode the wave of the Blockchain hype. ICOs (Initial Coin Offering) are public offerings of a new cryptocurrency backed by a Blockchain network. While thousands of coins and Blockchain-based products were being sold following the cryptocurrency bubble in 2017, many have been labeled as fraudulent, overvalued, and scams. This has created a strong negative stigma around cryptocurrencies and Blockchain, which has decreased the market demand for new Blockchain products.
A top challenge for a product manager in the Blockchain industry today is to navigate the stigmatized market and launch products that stand out as reliable, innovative, and stable products. Following the bubble burst of cryptomarkets, it has been particularly difficult to brand and market Blockchain products as legitimate items. Today, a successful product manager will help build a product that is upheld by not just a structured idea, but by an organized team of intelligent designers, engineers, and marketers that guarantee the success and customer satisfaction of the given product. Structured planning and a strong knowledge of previous Blockchain developments is essential in tackling the largest challenges in the Blockchain industry. Overcoming and circumnavigating the negative stigma of Blockchain and cryptocurrencies is a crucial task for the project manager that determines the success of the product.
As discussed, the rapid growth of Blockchain has led to an increased demand for product management. The tech boom in the early 2000s brought on the first wave of the need for product managers. In many aspects, the product manager brings the confusing digital world to the general public by simplifying and explaining the powers and purposes of the technology. Blockchain demands a liaison to the common public more than anything else. Its complexities and underdevelopment means it needs people, like the product manager, to connect the confusing Blockchain environment with the common consumer. Where we are today, it is yet to be done. Therefore, the role of a product manager will be ever more important for the Blockchain industry. Translating and building Blockchain products in the future will demand comprehensive understanding of both the technology, and more importantly the state of the consumer.
Recognizing how to both educate the consumer and sell Blockchain products is likely the primary role of a product manager. It is easy to sell an iPhone today, because consumers know exactly what they are buying and how to use it. But it sure wasn’t easy to sell a smartphone in 2006, as customers didn’t quite understand the technology available or how it worked. Product managers stand in the same shoes today in the Blockchain industry. How can I sell a product that the consumer is yet to understand? This may be the vital question for product management in Blockchain for the future. As Blockchain is expected to grow to new heights, the education and marketing of Blockchain products will demand product managers to function as translators from the confusing Blockchain space to the rest of the world.
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
Who is hiring?
Businesses from a large variety of sectors are hiring product managers in Blockchain, including but not limited to:
Bank of America
Supply chain based companies
Smaller Blockchain companies
How strong does my knowledge about Blockchain have to be to enter the field?
Not very strong. Though many employers have mentioned that it is preferable that product manager candidates have a decent understanding of Blockchain, the technology has only existed for less than a decade, and wasn’t popularized until 2017. Most candidates likely have a general knowledge of the Blockchain framework and how it works, but very few are professionals in the space prior to entry. Employers much rather prefer experience in product management in the appropriate sector, rather than just having knowledge about Blockchain.
What are the costs and benefits of working for a “big name” company vs. new Blockchain based company?
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