The 2021 Product Awards brought together the very best in digital products, highlighting the market leaders that are taking the product world by storm in this new Age of Product. Where and how can product leaders focus product solutions to deliver winning products? Join us in The Winners Circle with Airtable Product Lead Anthony Maggio to discuss how product managers can gain a competitive advantage by modernizing business processes and focusing product solutions.

The 2021 Product Awards went completely digital this year, bringing the best of the best in digital products to the living rooms of product leaders worldwide.

2021 Product Awards, sponsored by Heap, Bluedot, and Mighty Capital.

Watch the entire rebroadcast right here and start thinking about which products will win as the world reopens.

Watch The 2021 Product Awards
2021 Product Awards, sponsored by Heap, Bluedot, and Mighty Capital.

On the importance of having an adaptable product

“A lot of the work that we focus on is really allowing our Airtable creators to build tailored processes and workflows that off the shelf software just can’t match.”

In the Age of Product, everything is about personalization, and Airtable definitely hits that requirement on the nose. As the world enters a new norm post-pandemic, the changes that occurred over the past year will only expand further.

“So many of our customers, and so many companies around the world, have had to very quickly change processes and had to adapt to this new reality and new way of working. Products that are really flexible, adaptable, and allow teams to quickly iterate on their processes – those are the key attributes to having an award winning product in this past year.”

“The importance of flexibility and adaptability of a product and of a process. That’s something that we really value as a core tenant of our product at Airtable, and something that our customers tell us they really value – how easy it makes it for them to design custom workflows and processes as their needs change.”

On what makes an award-worthy product manager

A product manager sees it all. From customer input, to engineering and development, it’s falls on the product manager to take all inputs and synthesize them into a cohesive plan. Being able to do that smoothly, efficiently, and with clarity is the key to being a product manager and, ultimately, to creating a great product.

“With the caveat that what makes an award-worthy Product Manager is always going to change based on the team, the organization, and the stage of company, I think there’s a few things that I see stand out as universally award-worthy attributes.

“Things that I look for in product managers as we’re growing our team at Airtable; creating clarity, caring deeply about the user needs and the product experience, and being proactive.”

“PMs, more than ever, have the responsibility and the need to collect and synthesize inputs from a ton of different places, to really be looking across the business and generating truth for the challenges that our users are having.”

“What are the levers that we need to move as a business? What are the themes that we’re hearing from sales teams from Customer Success teams? How do we bring all those inputs together, and create a unified narrative and clarity around what we want to focus on together as a company.”

On the major challenges currently facing product managers

Being a product manager can be likened to a switchboard operator tasked with both connecting all calls and building the telephone wires themselves. Every day is an onslaught of information from sources that matter equally across the board. 

“There are two challenges that I see are common amongst PMs; one is identifying the right problems to work on. There are so many sources of input that product managers have to grapple with and think about in terms of prioritization. From users, to their sales and support teams, to input from social media and input from other execs, it can be really hard to aggregate and to spot patterns across all these disparate sources of information”

“The other thing I think product managers struggle with is creating a balanced portfolio of investment bets. There’s always some tension in a PM role between working on the short term fixes –  you know, small problems for customers, things that can incrementally improve the product – versus taking some bigger bets and planning  cycles in roadmaps for initiatives that really help move the needle, change the lives of users, or help progress the company towards a broader goal.”

“Having the ability to clearly communicate a team’s strategy and to present a compelling roadmap in a holistic way, in a way that creates buy-in and clarity amongst stakeholders at a number of different levels, can be an effective tool. 

“Keeping those sources of truth up to date, and making them accessible to your colleagues and other stakeholders has probably never been more important. Without the office touchpoints and environments to keep people informed, it becomes even more important to have asynchronous roadmaps and sources of truth within the company that can help inform folks at any time that they might need it.”

About the speaker
Anthony Maggio InVision, Director of Product Member
About the host
Patrick Blute Transfix, Director of Brand and Sustainability

I am the Director of Brand & Sustainability for Transfix, a leading transportation solutions provider, combining tech and a best-in-class carrier network to reshape the future of freight. I am also a host for Product Talk helping bring product leaders together to answer the question: "What makes a great product?"

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