Figured that it was time for a new post on this. Now that you have gotten some basic understanding of the systems and applications space and have looked at some work being done around technical product management, I’d say it’s a good time to pick your poison…specifically, commit to developing more technical understanding in a particular domain. In order to narrow down your choices, here’s a couple things I would recommend you think about:
1) How technical do you see yourself getting? Some product management roles are more technical than others so you really do have a choice. You really have to be honest with yourself here. Think about your ability to ramp up quickly on things in other areas of your life. Are you a tinkerer? When you plan on purchasing some kind of consumer electronics, are you more interested in the inner workings or the features? If you don’t plan on getting really technical, I might suggest you consider something other than the server space. But keep in mind that regardless of whether you pick a tech product manager or product manager path, there’s a level of technical understanding that is required for each.
2) Look at the industry and see where it’s growing. You’ll have the best chances of finding work in high growth areas that are not so hot that everyone wants to work in them. So, for example, I wouldn’t pick gaming here. It’s hot and growing but so competitive because everyone wants to get into it. What tech markets are not inundated with talent? If you look at emerging markets, where is growth predicted (WiFi would be an example). Factor these things in when you are choosing your domain to help you narrow down your list.
3) Hang out where the tech product managers hang out online. There are a ton of sites and blogs dedicated to specific technology. Join some user groups and get an understanding of challenges in the industry. When you get brave and comfortable, post. This may take some time and additional research for you to feel comfortable.
4) Tech people love to talk about themselves (come on, you know it’s true..you’ve been to Robert Scoble’s site, right?). Find someone working in your technical space of interest and have them give you a major brain dump. If you can find someone dedicated to the product management side of the business, all the better.
At this point, you should have a good idea what technology space is right for you before you make a more significant time investment…there’s still time to change your mind!