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IPMA Event Report: Market Research Using Social Media

(This is a live blog of the presentation on Market Research using Social Media, by Pinkesh Shah, for the Indian Product Managers Association (IPMA) Pune event. Since it is a live blog, it might have errors, and won’t be as well organized as an article ought to be. Please keep that in mind while reading.)

Background – Why is Market Research Important

Product Management is really about Value management. There are five parts to it:

  • Understanding Value: Understand what the customer wants / care about
  • Creating Value: Build the Product
  • Capturing Value: Making sure that your product is appropriately priced. It is not necessary that you charge for the product immediately, or at all. You might make money somewhere else.
  • Communicating Value: Position your value proposition appropriately
  • Delivering Value: Making sure your product / value reaches the right person. Having the correct Channels.
Pinkesh Shah talking at IPMA Pune

For your next product or product feature, you will have lots of idea. But knowing what will really be the right thing to focus on is difficult. For a successful product or feature, the following pipeline is important:

  • Market Analysis: Choosing what to build
  • Strategic Analysis: Building the product profitably
  • Building the Product: In India we are very good at this step
  • Go to Market: Marketing it Right
  • Sales Enablement: Selling Effectively

The rest of this talk will focus on mostly on Market Analysis.

What does a PM do? It’s more than just requirement analysis:

  • Champions the customer’s context within the organization
  • Define the roadmap for a product, and deliver products that customers will actually buy
  • Master orchestrator of the productization process

Market Research – An Art and a Science

Ways to do market research:

  • Surveys: very few people do surveys. And it is easy to do. The only thing difficult is to come up with good survey questions. But otherwise this is one of the best and scalable techniques for market research.
  • Talking to your sales guys
  • Reading research reports from people like Gartner
  • Ethnography: watching your customers in their natural setting. In Big Bazaar there are always people standing in a corner of the store and observing customers. They spend 8 hours watching the patterns.
  • User research: Bring users in and make them go through use cases
  • Win Loss Interviews
  • Product Advisory Council: Announce a product, as if it is already done. Put out a Google ad about this product that does not exist. Target it for the geography and demographics that you’re interested. And then check who and how many people are clicking on it. Gives you a good idea of whether it is really working or not. Very easy and cheap way of figuring out whether your product is going to work. And you can do it sitting at home in India for any product targeting anywhere in the world

Why is social media is a great tool for market research?

  • Getting real users in a the real world is a lot of effort. Easier to get users online: LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogger, Quora, Twitter, etc.
  • Viral propagation. Truly borderless. And impossible to do without social media even if you have lots of money
  • Asychronous. You and the users don’t have to be in the same place at the same time. Makes it much easier.
  • Figure out who are the influencers


Great resource. All people in professional settings are on LinkedIn. Hence, for product management, especially enterprise products, this is a great resource.

Very easy to create surveys / polls on LinkedIn and ask questions about your potential future product / features, and get responses from people all over the world. With demographic information from LinkedIn.

You can not only get quantitative results, but also qualitative results and opinions.

In addition, you get to go back and give updates to all those who participated about what happened, what features were included, etc.

Audience Question: What about competition finding out about your product ideas / features?

Answer: This is a problem with all market research. But in most cases, the idea is not the most important part of the product, so it’s OK. If indeed your idea is the secret sauce, then don’t include it in your market research, but in most cases it is no.


If you are a product manager, you must use Uservoice.

Similarly there is CustomerVoice, an Indian Startup similar to Uservoice, but for India.

Facebook likes are not a good substitute for Uservoice. You need really granular feedback, which a “like” does not give.

Landing Pages

A landing page can be created within 5 minutes of creating an idea. Just put up your idea, ask people to register for the beta. At this point, you don’t have a beta, but you can decide whether to create one or not based on the amount of interest you generate.

Online Ads for Validation

Think of a product. Assume that the product already exists, and create an ad for the product. Put the ad out. Target a few important cities and sectors (e.g. Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, Chennai). See how many people click on the ad, and from which city and sector. That will give you an idea of how much interest is there for your product, and which geographies and sectors your product should target.

Do not start building a product unless you have done this.

Google Ads are good for validating a concept, but not very good for getting an idea of the people who clicked on the ad. LinkedIn ads cost more, but provide much more details about the click-throughs.


Make sure you have Google Analytics installed on all your websites. It is free and gives you lots of data on who’s coming and what they’re doing.

In addition there are paid services (often fairly inexpensive) that do even better.

For example, there is an Indian startup called Wingify that allows you to do A/B testing on your website. If you don’t know what A/B testing is, find out now.

Other interesting websites/products

  • Ask Your Target Market: http://aytm.com – ask questions to specific target groups (mostly US)
  • Sprout Social: http://sproutsocial.com – get social media conversations about various keywords
  • CDC Pivotal CRM – get twitter and other social media conversations of each customer

Parting Thought

Samuel Colt, who invented the revolver, said that his invention was one of the most important things ever. Because, he said, “God made men. I’ve enabled them to be equal.” The person without strength, money, knowledge, can still win if s/he has a revolver.

Social Media is the revolver for product management. Anyone can do it now.

Don’t let this weekend end without sending out a survey.

IPMA Event: Leveraging Social Media for Market Research – 3 Dec

The next meetup of the Indian Product Managers Association (IPMA), Pune, will feature a talk on Leveraging Social Media as a Market Research Tool (as opposed to outbound marketing), by Pinkesh Shah, Founder and CEO at Adaptive Marketing. The event is on Saturday, 3rd December.

About the Speaker – Pinkesh Shah

Pinkesh Shah, is a Silicon Valley Executive who has been a Product Management Practitioner for the last 14 years in US. Most recently he was the global Vice President of Product Management at McAfee (now acquired by Intel). Having played a key role in understanding how global products have to be adapted to work in emerging markets, he also started the product management organization in McAfee India.

Before McAfee he had several senior management roles in product companies like IBM, netIQ and have launched new products in the high technology space in startups like Netrex and Captivo.

Shah is a gold medalist from M.S.University where he earned his Bachelors in Engineering in Computer Science and a UPE research scholar at Purdue University where he earned his Masters in Computer Science.

Shah started Adaptive marketing with a vision to create the next generation product managers and marketers in India to enable technology product and services companies to market their product globally. He is part of the Angel network which invests in early stage technology companies.

About IPMA

India Product Management Association (IPMA) is a not-for-profit, voluntary, grassroots organization. IPMA Mission is to Foster Product Design and Innovation and Catalyze Product Management/Marketing Talent in India across software, mobile, hardware, telecommunications sectors in the IT industry. IPMA organizes knowledge sharing and networking forums such as Monthly Speaker Series, Workshops, P-Camps etc for professionals interested in product management and marketing. IPMA operate chapters in major product hubs across India and for more information about upcoming events, visit indiapma.org

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here

IPMA Pune Event Report: Experiences in Product Management by Amit Paranjape

Product management means many different things to many different people, and is in fact quite different depending upon whether the product is new or mature, whether the company is small, medium or large, whether it is an enterprise product or consumer product, and a host of other things. A lot of issues that product managers need to keep in mind, and skills that they need to develop was covered in Vivek Tuljapurkar’s IPMA Pune Talk covered by PuneTech earlier.

Here are Amit’s Experiences in Product Management:

  • Early days of a company
    • Product Management is not a well-defined role or a group or even a person in a small company. Focus is only on sales and development, and product roadmap is decided in an ad hoc fashion.
    • As number of customers, and breadth of solution increases, the ad hoc processes start to break down.
    • Must create a Product Management as a layer between developers and customers. And everybody views this as bureaucracy and added overhead. This can only be done if there is strong backing from someone for the PM role. For example, the development team might get hassled by all the ad hoc requests that come from the sales organization, and will insist that a PM group be created and that all requests are channeled through PM. This is internal change management and it takes time to settle down.
  • Roles of PM in early days
    • Create a process for written specs, well defined test cases and support for QA
    • Be a friend of the development/delivery organization and the sales organization
    • In general, build relationships will all the stakeholders
    • Take over program management of all custom development projects
    • Recruiting product managers – biggest challenge.
  • As the company gets bigger
    • As the company gets bigger, the challenges change
    • Need to start worrying about requirements of individual products vs. the product suite, and solutions
    • Worry about difference between product and solution and module
    • Most of the time, you don’t really know what you’re doing – you’re just trying to do a good job in the face of uncertainties and ambiguity.
  • Products vs. Solutions – the perennial debate in Enterprise product companies
    • A solution is something that solves a business problem of a customer. This is what sales sells to the customer. Solutions can be based on customer industries (e.g. consumer goods, automotive, finance), or it could be based on business processes (e.g. Procurement, Demand Management)
    • A product is a specific piece of technology that engineering can build and which solves some particular problem. A combination of products that work together seamlessly is a solution
    • The reason for separating out products and solutions is to ensure that a small set of products can be used to build many different solutions for various customers
  • Overall Learnings
    • A PM must be paranoid. You need to worry about everybody and everything, because whenever anything goes wrong because of anybody, it ultimately comes back to you. So keep track of what various development teams are doing, what potential problems are. You need to keep track of sales teams, and what they’re promising customers, and how they’re positioning the product.
    • You need to work by influence. The people who can make your life miserable (sales, dev, etc.) don’t report to you, but still you need to make sure that they listen to you.
    • All PMs need to be entrepreneurial in their thinking – jugaad is needed at all times. Because things are always broken or breaking as far as a PM is concerned, problems to be solved, fires to be put out.
    • Blaming others is not the answer. Ultimately the buck stops with PM, so PM needs to solve the problem, irrespective of who or what caused the problem.
    • Relationship management is the key. If you maintain good relationships with various stakeholders, your life will be easy.
    • You are constantly in “sell” mode. You need to convince sales people to do some things, and consultants to do some things, and development to do some things.
    • In a fast growing company, where there isn’t lots of structure, be ready to temporarily take on the roles of development manager, or customer project manager as and when required
    • Make sure you do competitive research
    • Make sure you keep track of customer satisfaction levels
    • Recruiting product management people is a challenge
    • Skills required for PM in small companies are different from those required for larger companies. Small companies are ad hoc, with tactical goals, with a narrow focus, and a consultant/developer mindset. Large company PMs are process driven, worry more about long-term strategic goals, have a broader focus, and think more like sales people than developers.
    • Do not make the mistake of hiring “experienced” PMs from large companies for doing a small company PM job. This usually does not work well.

IPMA Event: PM Journey – From Startup to Billion Dollar Co by Amit Paranjape

IPMA Pune, the Pune Chapter of the Indian Product Manager’s Association, presents a talk by Amit Paranjape, this Friday, from 4pm to 7pm, at BMC Software, Tower A, ICC Tech Park, SB Road. Amit will talk about his Product Management Journey – from a startup to a billion dollar company

Abstract – Product Management Journey – from a startup to a billion dollar company

Amit will discuss his experiences and learnings in product management – from helping set up the first product management team in a small startup like company, to the team’s rapid evolution as the company grew to a billion dollars in revenue, in just a short span of few years. Will discuss various aspects of product management ranging from customer requirement prioritization, development support, customer support, product marketing, industry focus, strategy, sales support, etc.

About the Speaker – Amit Paranjape

Amit Paranjape is a co-founder of PuneTech. He has been involved with several startups in India and U.S. Formerly Amit worked at i2 Technologies. Amit has over 15 years of experience in Product Management, Marketing and Strategy in the Enterprise Software Industry. He has a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering (IIT Bombay) and an M.S. in Manufacturing Systems (University of Wisconsin Madison). His current interests include consumer internet, healthcare and enterprise software.


  • 4.15 pm – Registrations and Networking
  • 4.30 pm – Opening Remarks
  • 4:45 pm – Talk by Amit
  • 6:00 pm – Q&A
  • 6.15 pm – Reserved for some exciting session
  • 6.30 pm – Closing Remarks

About IPMA

India Product Management Association (IPMA) is a not-for-profit, voluntary, grassroots organization. IPMA Mission is to Foster Product Design and Innovation and Catalyze Product Management/Marketing Talent in India across software, mobile, hardware, telecommunications sectors in the IT industry. IPMA organizes knowledge sharing and networking forums such as Monthly Speaker Series, Workshops, P-Camps etc for professionals interested in product management and marketing. IPMA operate chapters in major product hubs across India and for more information about upcoming events, visit indiapma.org

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here

Event Report: Product Management Challenges Unique to India

(This is a live-blog of the Indian Product Management Association (IPMA), Pune Chapter’s event on Product Management Challenges Unique to India by Vivek Tuljapurkar.)

What is Product Management

Different people define it differently. At the very least, a product manager is a person who is the “guardian angel” of the product. He gathers requirements from the market, and defines what the features of the product will be. But in some cases, a product manager might have responsibility of the product engineering. In other cases, a product manager might also have sales and support responsibilities. And sometimes a product manager might have full responsibility for a product – including worrying about the business profit & loss (P&L responsibility).

For this talk, we will be using the broader definition of product management.

These are the different types of product management that happen in India:

  • Product Mgmt for an Indian Software Company
  • Product Mgmt for an MNC
    • Only Product Mgmt for the Indian market is done from here
    • Product Mgmt for the global market is done from here
  • Product mgmt for an off-shore customer of an Indian product software services company. (e.g. a customer of Persistent asks Persistent to also do Product Mgmt. for their product.)

The greater the responsibility, the greater the challenges of doing the role out of India.

Product Manager and Geographic Location

The product manager’s location is important in two different ways. You can have easy access to the market (i.e. the customers), or not. And you can have easy access to the development team. If you have easy access to both, it’s ideal. If you have easy access only to the market, you can do outbound product management (creating the marketing requirements document from the market research document produced by the strategic marketing team). If you have easy access only to the development team, you can do inbound product management (creating the product requirements document from the marketing requirements document). If you do not have easy access to both, then you are in trouble.

In India-based product companies, a product manager could possibly do handle all responsibilities: requirements + engineering + sales and marketing + P&L responsibility. However, product managers in MNCs and Indian services companies, only requirements gathering and engineering can be owned out of India. Support to product sales and marketing can happen within the next 5 years, but full sales and marketing responsibility, and P&L responsibility is unlikely even 5 years from now.

Requirements for being a good Product Manager

  • Basic Understanding of finance, technology, development process, sales and marketing
  • Domain Knowledge – otherwise you will not be able to use your judgement to take strategic decisions and add value
  • Basic managerial capabilities – planning and execution
  • Organizational skills – ability to get things done
  • Social skills – building internal and external relationships. Because you need to get work done by a lot of people who don’t work for you
  • Communication skills and listening skills
  • Political astuteness. Many product managers, especially those who come from a technical background, ignore this aspect. Know who is friends with whom, which way the wind is blowing, who is trying to kill your product, and a whole bunch of other behind the scenes work that is happening, so that you can keep the future of your product, and yourself secure.
  • Negotiation skills.
  • Coping with uncertainty, pressure and changing priorities
  • Strategic thinking and foresight
  • Ability to influence, motivate and inspire

You don’t have to be an expert in all these areas, but whatever is missing will hurt you. Figure out which areas you’re weak in and work on improving those.

Engineers as Product Managers

Some of the difficulties that engineers face when they transition into product management roles (and this describes most Indian product managers):

  • Were used to “hard science”: algorithms, formulas, tools, methodologies, structure
  • Too methodical and structured, and have a tough time dealing with uncertainty and amorphous nature of things
  • Enamoured with technology, and want to do technology for the sake of technology
  • Too introverted, and don’t communicate (well) enough to succeed
  • Have a hard time letting go of technology focus and focusing on broader product management issues. (This is basically fear of the unknown)
  • We are too straightforward, and don’t have the political astuteness required

As a result, many engineers (i.e. many Indian product managers) fail at this role and end up doing only inbound product management.

So, focus on fixing these issues if you want to succeed.

Problems with a product management career in India

Typically, for product management being done in India, the role is in a very early stage, and is experimental. The responsibilities are ill-defined and evolving. The person given the job is likely to be from a development background, and is likely to have no exposure to other aspects of product management: like sales, marketing, market research, customer management etc. Further he has no access to customers or to market research.

The biggest problem: Lack of opportunity to learn and practice what you have learnt

In addition, the specific career path for a product manager is not really well defined in India.

Overall, the role is quite risky.

And if product management role does not work out, what happens to you? It is usually not clear whether you’ll be able to go back to your previous role and career path.

As a company, HR should have policies to clarify these issues, so that people feel safe about going into product management.

Getting people to do product management in a software company in India is difficult. IIM graduates don’t want to join as a product manager, but they’re happy to go to a HLL as a brand manager. Which is practically the same thing! So what is needed is that the product manager position in software companies needs to be branded appropriately, ensure that the candidate’s perception of the role is correct, and as before, the career paths are defined appropriately.

The problems are even worse for smaller companies. They cannot afford to pay higher salaries, provide the facilities and amenities. They don’t have a brand recognition, which is important to current and future employees. And smaller companies are also afraid that if they try to improve their branding and visibility, the larger companies will quickly come and poach employees, leading to attrition and major problems before they can hire new guys. Solution: don’t know! This is a tough problem, and it is unclear whether there is a good answer to this at this time.

Advice to new product managers in India

  • Understand and seek clarifications on your role, responsibilities, org structure, and processes. Don’t let unstated expectations hurt you!
  • Be prepared to deal with uncertainties and changing demands regarding your role
  • Seek a sympathetic executive sponsor. A CXO/VP who will help you with tactical challenges, or at least present your case to the decision makers
  • Stay one step ahead of the game. Never stop preparing yourself for a bigger role. Learn new things. Build new relationships with the long term in the mind.
  • Keep thinking about strategic matters. Immerse yourself, but don’t drown yourself in day-to-day stuff.
  • Find ways to exploit your best capabilities to your best advantage
  • Find a way to make a name for yourself. You don’t make a name for yourself by doing your day-to-day job well. Find something else, somewhere else which is dramatic and drastic. Keep watching for those, and if you see an opportunity and grab it. It should cause people to forget all your day-to-day issues, and focus on your big win

Specific skills and techniques

  • Keep a stakeholder mapping spreadsheet. Keep track of all the stakeholders in your project, and which of them is interested in what outcome, and what is the level of friendliness of these people towards you/your product, and when was the last time you had contact with them.
  • Never go public with strong stand, or a new strategic direction, unless you’re sure that it will be received well. Before the important meeting, or the presentation, go and meet some of the key people individually, make your point to them, and ensure that they’re in agreement with you
  • On a regular basis, check whether you’ve been doing anything specific to improve your weak areas. And if you’ve not, scold yourself.

IPMA Event: Product Management Challenges Unique to the Indian Environment

IPMA Pune, the Pune Chapter of the Indian Product Manager’s Association, presents a talk by Vivek Tuljapurkar, this Friday, from 5pm to 7pm, at BMC Software, Tower A, ICC Tech Park, SB Road.

More details.

Product Management Challenges Unique to the Indian Environment

Indian software industry is experiencing explosive growth beyond its core offering in software services. MNCs are giving their India operations greater responsibility towards product management, Indian software companies are being asked to take additional responsibilities towards requirements management and product management, and the legendary Indian entrepreneurial spirit is in full bloom with many startups looking to launch new products.

The Indian environment, like any other, presents certain unique challenges towards product management. There is much commonality to the challenges that are faced by various types of businesses, whether you are an MNC, Indian services company, or a product startup. This seminar aims to discuss various current and upcoming challenges and also possible solutions and is a must for those practicing or aspiring to practice product management.

About the Speaker – Vivek Tuljapurkar

Vivek Tuljapurkar is a management consultant based in Pune. He has held various positions in the past such as Managing Director of Avaya, CEO of Ruksun Software Technologies, Global Product Portfolio Manager at IBM, and Product Portfolio and Line of Business Manager at Eaton Corp. Vivek has twelve technological “firsts” to his credit, has been an advisor or consultant to numerous governments and Fortune 500 companies, and has taught at various prestigious universities in the USA and India. Vivek mentors startups via IIM-A MentorEdge program and Power of Ideas initiative.

Detailed Agenda

  • 4.45 pm – Registrations and Networking
  • 5.00 pm – Opening Remarks
  • 5:15 pm – Talk by Vivek
  • 6:30 pm – Q&A
  • 6.45 pm – Demo of some cool tools for Product Managers (Knowledge Sharing)
  • 7.00 pm – Closing Remarks

About IPMA

India Product Management Association (IPMA) is a not-for-profit, voluntary, grassroots organization. IPMA Mission is to Foster Product Design and Innovation and Catalyze Product Management/Marketing Talent in India across software, mobile, hardware, telecommunications sectors in the IT industry. IPMA organizes knowledge sharing and networking forums such as Monthly Speaker Series, Workshops, P-Camps etc for professionals interested in product management and marketing. IPMA operate chapters in major product hubs across India and for more information about upcoming events, visit indiapma.org

  • Twitter: @indiapma
  • LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr: Search for “India Product Management Association”
  • IPMA Membership Registration: http://indiapma.org/membership
  • Event Registration: http://ipmapunejune11.eventbrite.com

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Please register here