Maintaining a winning portfolio of products requires many things — knowing what products to support through development, knowing how to position existing products in the market, making the right moves to counter the competition, and knowing when to kill a product to reallocate resources to a new one. But all of these decisions have one thing in common — the better the knowledge of what customers truly need, the better the decisions will be. Product managers have an especially acute need for better market intelligence.

Globalization of markets, opportunities, and competition has radically increased the complexity of portfolio management, and this has made the product manager’s role far more difficult as well. Markets — and the customer needs they represent — are as diverse as Paris and Delhi, New York and Beijing. Every competitive movement is stalked by local competitors with product, marketing, and sales approaches tailored specifically for their markets (or even specific niches within those markets), making sales an uphill battle. Unexpected events that significantly impact the ability to penetrate markets, including political, technological, and competitive shifts, happen with increasing frequency. Put these together, and product managers are often left feeling that their only real chance to succeed is a different product to work with.

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