New research

Introducing the State of Product Leadership 2021: Europe edition

Published Mar 31, 2021

As the world underwent extreme shifts in the last year, it put a spotlight on the strength and integrity of Europe’s digital economy. Digital transformation initiatives are accelerating, innovation is alive and well, and product teams are crucial to connecting the dots to ensure success.

Each year, Pendo and Product Collective set out to take the pulse of the global product industry and examine the evolution of the product manager (PM) role. In our 2021 European State of Product Leadership report, now in its third year, we put all of this in context with the fast-moving era of digital transformation. The report is based on a survey of product professionals in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, and reveals six findings about how they’re navigating this historic moment. It also urges the question: How can companies best support the product leaders who are tasked with steering Europe into the future?

Here are some key takeaways from this year’s State of Product Leadership, Europe edition:

Digital transformation in Europe hinges on product teams

Our survey revealed just how central product leaders are to digital transformation in Europe. When asked who they perceive to be responsible for these efforts, 47% of European product leaders said product and R&D teams. Even more notable is the fact that this isn’t just true for companies that are product led—companies that are sales and/or marketing led also reported product and R&D teams as most responsible for digital transformation.

Product teams in Europe have a high degree of influence over their companies’ future, but they haven’t fully actualized their responsibility for digital transformation. Less than half of respondents said they feel responsible or accountable for digital transformation. This goes to show that just because an initiative is delegated, doesn’t guarantee automatic success. Companies need to ensure the people they’re relying on to drive digital transformation feel empowered and able to do so successfully.

European product leaders are revenue-focused

For customer-facing applications, 50% of European product leaders ranked revenue among the top three primary success metrics they are monitoring. This customer-centric approach to monetization points to the idea that product pros play a key role in connecting the product with core business outcomes. Product success is business success, and European organizations who embrace this product-led mindset will have an edge over the competition. 

In comparison, in the global survey, 45% of respondents listed revenue as a primary success metric. It seems product leaders in Europe are a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to aligning the customer experience and financial performance.

There’s room to become more data-driven

Although 63% of product leaders across France, Germany, and the United Kingdom report being data-driven, only 40% say that they make product roadmap decisions based on quantitative sources. This suggests that there is an opportunity for European product leaders to become more data-driven, specifically in how they decide on and prioritize items on the product roadmap.

Data is important for successful digital transformation initiatives, especially as teams look to improve existing digital offerings or roll out new digital products entirely. When taken together, quantitative inputs (e.g. product usage data) and qualitative inputs (e.g. customer feedback) arm product teams with information that will help them make the most impactful decisions. Organizations should consider whether their product teams are equipped with the tools, educational resources, and training they need to make their best judgement calls.

For more insight into European product leaders’ biggest challenges and opportunities, you can download the full State of Product Leadership: Europe report here.