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Digital Product Manager expectations of the Modern Cloud

This week the team look at the Modern Cloud from the Digital Product Manager’s perspective. They zone in on the concept of operational overhead. If engineering teams are free, they have time to experiment and iterate.

What does a Digital Product Leader need from Modern Cloud?

Dave Anderson  

First of all, the good news is that our book is on sale The Value Flywheel Effect. Let’s just get that in there first!

We continue our discussion on the modern cloud. We’ve talked about what the modern cloud is from the perspective of the CEO. What about from the perspective of a Digital Product Manager? What are the things that a product leader would expect from the modern cloud? I think that it’s a good question.

The first one is operational overhead. As a team, if you’re building in a modern cloud, there’s less lower-level stuff to worry about. This leaves more capacity for other things.

Operational Overhead

Mike O’Reilly  

Our teams use serverless and they experience low operational overhead.  We tend not to worry about scaling our containers or needing lead time to work on network architecture. We go to market rapidly. And we get into the problems that we’re trying to solve and engage quickly.

I’m speaking from the perspective of an engineer working with a product person or product lead looking at the problems they’re trying to solve. What’s the quickest path to those problems, and how do you get to begin experimentation? I’m not spending time setting up servers, building a full specification, and veering away from traditional MVP.

Operational overhead is definitely a big influencer. It gives me more time to think about the product, measurement, hitting targets, and understanding the business problems. 

Responsiveness is key

Mark McCann  

Responsiveness is critical. Teams are set up to leverage the modern cloud. They’re more aware of and responsive to the needs of product leads. If you’re not focused on patching your servers and scaling network architecture, you are much more focused on the users, and their needs. And how can I leverage rapidly? You’re part of the conversation. 

For a product leader, your engineering teams should be more engaged with the problems that you’re facing, the innovation you’re trying to achieve, or the issues you’re trying to solve for customers. For products in the modern cloud, you should be expecting your engineering teams to be responsive to your needs. And there should be a good feedback loop. The time from idea to validation in production should be very short. It can be down to minutes if you’ve architected and engineered it correctly.

Mike O’Reilly  

It’s the right type of operational overhead. I advise teams that getting the business view of their workload and getting the IT view of their workload is Day Zero work.  You’re going to need observability for production to be able to make rapid decisions.  And you have to do operational work. It’s now aimed at product evolution and making good decisions for what you’re building.

Mark McCann  

The teams are better informed of the current state and future state.

The importance of dashboards

Mike O’Reilly  

One thing you have to get to grips with for teams in the modern cloud is dashboards. You will meet teams that don’t have any dashboards and you have to make them go back.  It is non-negotiable. You need to spend time doing it.

Mark McCann  

Product leaders shouldn’t be concerned about scale if we hit the sweet spot of product market fit and experience exponential demand for our product. By leveraging the modern cloud using well-architected and serverless principles, you will scale globally. It shouldn’t be something you need to think about six months in advance.  Having that mindset allows you to experiment rapidly.  It allows you to be iterative in your product approach.

Digital Product Leader at The Serverless Edge
Photo by Marvin Meyer on

Helping your Digital Product Leader drive a culture of innovation

Mike O’Reilly  

You’ve got the apparatus to see how your workload has been received, how it’s being used or not used.  Your org has to be set up for continuous improvement or evolution.  You are driving a culture of innovation. You will be constantly evolving what you’re doing to move towards the business purpose set out for your team or organisation.

The actions of observability, rapid experimentation, a bias for action, getting into production environments, engaging with customers, and processing and using that feedback allow you to make the next decision. You’ll find that you’re moving into new areas and having conversations that you wouldn’t have had previously because you were so invested in setups. It’s the sunk cost fallacy. Don’t go down that route! We are trying to get the old stuff to work. It fosters genuine product development with a product mindset and embracing a culture of innovation with your customers.

Mark McCann  

Your product engineering teams become more engaged in collaborative, ideation, and discovery workshops.  If you’re leveraging the modern cloud you’ll have composable building blocks that your engineering teams can experiment with to meet needs in almost real-time. From ideation, discovery, and framing sessions, engineering teams will be able to stand up a prototype live and give you working code solutions that you can validate. The feedback loop is the flywheel turning rapidly.


A product leader should be seeing speed. If your teams aren’t moving fast or your engineering culture is not set up to move fast, you should be asking if you are leveraging the modern cloud properly.

Dave Anderson  

With a low operational burden, you can set your technology stack up to go fast. If you’re in the modern closure, there’s space for innovation and space to think about new technology and new ideas.  The environment is more creative. Engineers aren’t patching in the weeds all day. The velocity is interestingly matched with the time for creativity.

That’s the craic.  We will continue the conversation on Modern Cloud next time. Our blog is and we are on Twitter @ServerlessEdge

Don’t forget to order our book: ‘The Value Flywheel Effect‘ on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, and at all good book shops.

Thanks very much!

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