16 Feb 2019 18:27 IST

IIM-B hosts first Software Product Management Summit

Over 150 product management professionals, students attend summit at IIM-B

The Centre for Software and IT Management and the International Software Product Management Professionals Association (ISPMA) at IIM-Bangalore hosted the first-ever Software Product Management Summit recently.

The two-day event covered a range of topics on Software Product Management (SPM) through key note addresses, panel sessions by CEOs, venture partners, product and talent heads, a fireside chat involving eminent industry leaders, student showcases, deep dive workshops and an awards ceremony.

The SPM Excellence Awards from ISPMA were declared after several rounds of evaluation. The winners are, BillionLoans in the ‘startup category’, SunTec Open Banking in the ‘new product in matured company category’ and Customer XPs – Clari5 in the ‘established product in matured company category’. The jury comprised of Hans-Bernd Kittlaus, Chairman, ISPMA, Prof Rahul De, Chair of CSITM at IIM-B and faculty from the Information Systems area, and Prof Guenther Ruhe, from University of Calgary.

Cultural context

The ISPMA board has extended an invitation and free tickets to the winners to the SPM Summit in Frankfurt, Germany, in April 2019. The importance of partner centricity, platformisation, benefits of SaaS (Software as a Service) model were the key takeaways from the success stories presented by the finalists.

The key focus of the conference was on how SPM is culturally contextual, hence there is a need to build a strong ecosystem in order to realize its potential, especially in the Indian context. The fireside chat between industry veteran and Chairman of Surya Soft and Edgeverve DN Prahlad and Hans-Bernd Kittlaus, Chairman of ISPMA, highlighted this observation.

Indian software industry has come a long way from having to thrive on cost arbitrage, said Prof G Raghuram, Director, IIM-B. He also encouraged product managers and students to take Indian product management expertise global and lead the world in this capability.


Product management

The sessions, by Rumen Colov, Co-founder and VP – Product Management at Applied Qubit, a start-up developing software for quantum computers, on ‘My Journey into Software Product Management’, Zornitsa Nikolova, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Leanify, a company focused on Lean and Agile training, on ‘Product Discovery with Design Thinking’, and Scott Miller, Director of Software Pricing and Monetisation, CGI, on ‘Best Practices in Pricing SaaS’, were aimed at giving an all-round view of Product Management to aspiring product managers.

Eminent Prof Michael A Cusumano, in his key note address, dwelt on the concept of hybrid companies, the steps to build a platform and markets that are eligible to be platformised.

The second day of the summit, had two panel discussions, first one was on ‘Nurturing Software Product Management – Enabling Careers of Success’, featuring Abdul Jaleel, VP, Employee Experience in Adobe India, Somshubhro Pal Choudhury, Partner, Bharat Innovation Fund, and Sudeep Ralhan, Head of Human Resources, Walmart Labs India. It was moderated by Somnath Baishya, Head of People charter for Intuit. The discussion raised questions from audience on basic principles of product management.

Software as value driver

The second panel, ‘Global Best Practices and India’s Leadership in Software Products’, was moderated by Prof Rishikesha T. Krishnan, from the strategy area at IIM-B, and featured Sanjai K, VP and Head of product management for SAP ERP, Sundar Balasubramanian, Director of Product Management for QuickBooks, and Som Pal Choudhury, Partner, Bharat Innovation Fund. They spoke that India is very well placed in the product market as it has both the talent to build and manage products and a large local demand. Strengthening the ecosystem is the key to success, they added.

Kittlaus quoted with conviction a remark by Volkswagen CEO, “A car is to a large degree turning into a software product”. This, he said, made it clear that top players in other industries have started to adopt the IT approach. The multiple tracks of workshops conducted by Hans-Bernd Kittlaus and Haragopal Mangipudi were considered to be of high value and were attended by a large number of professionals and students.

Hans-Bernd remarked that with software becoming the number one value driver for most industries. Software Product Management is becoming a key leadership skill. ISPMA was excited to focus on India in building this community of professionals and fostering excellence in SPM in India, he said.