From “traditional” to trailblazer: How non-tech companies are forging ahead with digital transformation

Introduction: When tech’s loss is “traditional” companies’ gain

If you work in tech, chances are the prospect of layoffs isn’t just something you see far off in the headlines. Industry wide, tech companies have responded to growing macroeconomic pressure by parting ways with large amounts of talent. In the first half of 2023 alone, nearly 150,000 U.S. tech workers were laid off.

At the same time, nothing happens in a vacuum. Right when tech companies are tamping down their workforces, businesses long regarded as “traditional” are racing to scoop up the talent. A new global study from Pendo and Product Collective finds that product management teams—a function typically prevalent in technology companies—have grown in size by 9% in traditional enterprises over the past two years. What’s more, they’re expected to continue growing at the same rate.

What explains this rush to hire tech talent? Why the focus on product management at say, a consumer goods manufacturer, airline, or insurance company? (Hint: It’s got nothing to do with product teams for product teams’ sake.) At a high level, the answer is simple: These teams strengthen the business and its bottom line.

Product teams are increasingly important to the organization as a whole. What started as an engineering-adjacent role centered on shipping new software features has evolved into a strategic role for the business. Product teams today distill inputs from customers, internal stakeholders, and the market in order to identify the right products or features for a company to build in order to grow and maintain their customer base. In essence, product management teams tie their efforts to revenue and customer retention. With the pressure to find new ways to do more with less in the face of a looming recession, it’s an opportunity too important for companies to pass up.

What’s more, this is just one of the many ways traditional companies are adopting tools, strategies, and tactics traditionally used by technology companies to efficiently scale and drive innovation and growth. In the report that follows, we’ll be examining other developments that blur the line between what constitutes a “traditional” company vs. a technology company.