Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

BBC Academy spotlights role of Product Manager in the media

As the role of Product Manager gains prominence in industry and media companies in the UK, the BBC Academy is today publishing a specially-commissioned report titled The State Of Product Management 2010 and is also announcing a Product Management Development Programme as a key part of its training for BBC staff.

The Academy's report, which has drawn on specific BBC projects and consulted companies such as Channel 4 Television, the New York Times, the Financial Times, Guardian News & Media, YouTube, Huddle and Mobile IQ, looks at the role of the product manager in the creation of successful digital products and services.

The report defines the role as "a multi-disciplined person who operates at the intersection of technology, design, editorial and commercial and is able to bring all these elements together", as well as someone who has a keen understanding of the audiences, stakeholders and users.

Well-established in the US – and particularly Silicon Valley – as a highly effective business practice, the report identifies a noticeable skills gap in the UK and also notes that the role and responsibilities of a Product Manager are not as well defined here as in the US.

While UK companies are increasingly raising the role to the top table, the report states that there is little consistency in job description or use of common terminology and processes.

Erik Huggers, Director of the BBC's Future Media & Technology, has structured his division around the Product Management model.

BBC Online started life as a text-publishing medium by which web pages were delivered, and so the web began to mature and the offering grew. It is hoped that product management will enable the BBC to think more strategically about its developing online proposition, and ensure the corporation stays at the forefront of the digital revolution and delivers better innovation to enhance audiences' experiences.

Erik said: "Product Management is integral to the success of many digital products and services that have become part of our daily lives. It's the right time for BBC as an industry leader to change its way of working, and the BBC Academy training course is designed to give staff the understanding of product management they'll need, as well as the skills to equip them to deliver."

To underpin the growth in Product Management across the media industry, the Academy has just launched a comprehensive development programme for staff. The programme equips participants with an overview of the requisite role, key skills and knowledge.

"It also encourages participants to identify the next steps in their own development. Following the first module, The Product Management Foundation course, participants select future training modules depending on their own individual needs.

Nic Newman, author of The State Of Product Management 2010, said: "It feels as if we've reached a real tipping point where media companies are beginning to understand the value of a product led approach, but are finding there is a real skills and confidence gap in the industry.

"We need to ensure consistency and best practice across the industry so that product managers, who will be increasingly in demand, can move around, and contribute to this growing business practice. This initiative from the BBC Academy begins to address that gap."

Andy Wilson, Head of the BBC's Centre of Technology, said: "Product Management is changing the way the BBC develops services and training will be key to that transformation. Developing world-class product managers that can deliver services like the BBC iPlayer is vital to any media organisation in the digital world."

Notes to Editors

The State of Product Management 2010 is authored by Nic Newman. Nic played a key role in shaping the BBC's internet services over more than a decade. He was a founding member of the BBC News Website, leading international coverage as World Editor (1997-2001).

As Head of Product Development for BBC News, he helped introduce innovations such as blogs, podcasting and on-demand video. Most recently, he led digital teams, developing websites, mobile and interactive TV applications for News, Sport, Weather and Local.

He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, where he has published two recent reports on social media and mainstream media. He is a trainer, writer and consultant on digital media at the interface between technology and journalism.

The BBC Academy, launched in December 2009, is the BBC's centre for training. It houses the Colleges of Journalism, Production, Leadership and the Centre of Technology. As well as training our own staff, we also have a remit under the terms of the BBC's Charter Agreement to train the wider industry.

We aim to share as much of our training as possible with the wider UK broadcasting industry for free. We also offer some of our courses on a commercial basis, both within the UK and abroad.

BBC Future Media & Technology works closely with output divisions across the BBC and encompasses the delivery of BBC services in new ways to audiences, as well as the technology that makes this possible. FM&T equips the BBC to deliver engaging content in an increasingly interactive, on-demand world.


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