While it varies by company, the role of product manager generally encompasses three areas:
• Experience (design). This is the user-facing aspect of the product. It means deciding which features to build for the users—not necessarily which features will make money but which ones make for a better product.
• Technology (engineering, project management). This involves understanding the implementation of the product. At the least, it means managing the schedule and checking in on accomplishments. In a more technical product manager role it might involve working directly with developers to create an API specification.
• Strategy (business). This is the piece most aligned with brand management. Strategy means deciding which business areas the product needs to grow in and why. It also means running A/B tests and other experiments to help optimize the performance and revenue of the product.
This isn’t going to be the “we are awesome designers and make shit look cool” value. This is going to be the “this design will make this thing work and improve efficiency, increase sales, and save money” value. If you’re not doing that for someone, somehow, you are in trouble.
—Dan James, silverorange (Why Good Design Will Matter In The Recession | CEO Blues