In planning the new NISO Plus Conference, we are pondering those professional roles and skill sets common to the information community as a whole but that may be underserved or underappreciated. One such role in the information industry is that of the product manager. The role is ubiquitous in a technological setting. It is not a new role in corporate conference rooms, having been around since Proctor & Gamble reorganized their management structure around brands in the 1930s. However, in the context of digital information producers, the role and concerns of the product manager isn’t one that’s often spotlighted in press coverage of publisher gatherings or library conferences.

The skills necessary to be a great product manager — such as understanding user needs, how to balance user input with technical limitations, and how to position new services in relation to old ones — are skills that are equally relevant to other types of management and service provision. All stakeholders operating within the information environment rely on such skills in responding to the needs of researchers, academics, and students. But few events in the information community put those skills into the appropriate context.

In February of 2020, we will be working to satisfy the needs of product managers through specific sessions, such as “Product Management in the Information Economy,” a segment scheduled for Tuesday, February 25, as well as through integration of relevant topics into sessions generally focused on building and delivering successful services and products used daily by researchers, librarians, publishers, and more.

For those working in product management positions, there is a direct benefit to be found in mingling with other professionals facing the challenge of thinking strategically about information services while also planning the practical roadmap of how best to move that service into the future. Working in the current landscape of platforms and licensed content, there are complexities to market positioning, branding, appropriate prioritization of features, etc. that will be most easily understood and absorbed in this context. Where else but at the NISO Plus event can a product manager develop such a useful understanding of the deep intricacies of specific use cases that arise daily in the digital environment?

The strategic intent behind this event is to provide a more conversational and discussion-based conference, where a large part of the value for attendees is related to the connections they can make to others with similar issues and opportunities. NISO Plus offers product managers the opportunity to hear from C-level executives where the industry may be headed in the next five years so that they can plan accordingly, the potential to hear from front-line decision makers in academia about the hard choices being forced upon them in selecting resources, and the chance to exchange ideas with peers about design or technology issues.

Whether you currently work as a product manager, are excited about product management, or want to connect with the product managers of some of your most-used services, NISO Plus is the place to be. Come join us February 23–25, 2020 at the Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. All the details, including registration and hotel information, can be found at https://niso.plus.

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