A Deep Learning Primer for Product Managers

Most of my discussions lately with CTOs and Product Managers have ended with me emailing some links and info about Deep Learning. I’m a relative newbie to the space myself so hopefully this is a good primer.

For Product Managers and CTOs, having an understanding of what’s possible with Deep Learning and how the technology could impact your features and stack is quickly becoming very important.

A great summary of Deep Learning from Lee Gomes taken from this article:

The current excitement about AI stems, in great part, from groundbreaking advances involving what are known as “convolutional neural networks.” This machine learning technique promises dramatic improvements in things like computer vision, speech recognition, and natural language processing. You probably have heard of it by its more layperson-friendly name: “Deep Learning.”

Here are few more article I like:

Albert Wenger from USV talks about Machine Intelligence
Shivon Zilis from Bloomberg Beta created a Machine Intelligence Landscape

And, here’s a list of terms to explore:

Word Embeddings
Nodes and edges
Precision and recall
Frame semantics
Knowledge graph
Hypernym and Hyponym
Word sense disambiguation
Hearst Patterns
GPU computing
Stochastic Pooling
Cognitive Computing

And, some good people to follow in the Deep Learning space:

Yann LeCun – Facebook’s Director of AI Research
Geoffrey Hinton – Distinguished Researcher at Google and Distinguished Professor at University of Toronto
Yoshua Bengio – Full Professor Department of Computer Science and Operations Research
and Canada Research Chair in Statistical Learning Algorithms
Elliot Turner – Founder AlchemyAPI
Derrick Harris – Senior Writer at GigaOm
Seth Grimes – Industry Analyst

And, some websites to explore:

Google Deep Learning Community

And finally, some awesome AI videos:

Introducing Spot
Space Invaders

3 Tips Product Managers Can Use To Do Great Work

Product Managers need to envision the world as it should be while having a clear understanding of how their customers see the world today.

Here are three ways to succeed in doing this as a Product Manager.

1. Understand / Measure
You have a great idea for a feature and a vision of the positive impact building this feature could have on the bottom line.  As the Product Manager, this is a very exciting feeling, you can make the world better!  However, this is precisely the time to be super careful.  Before building, you need to undestand how everything is going to be measured and be able to articulate why the product needs this feature to your team.  If the feature is an iteration on an existing feature, do you have a good benchmark?  If this is something brand new, thinking through how everything is measured helps you elaborate the idea.

Create an Evernote notebook for the new feature and add three notes: Benchmark, Business Impact and Customer Stories.  If you don’t feel good about the quality, accuracy and depth of these notes, you shouldn’t move forward with the feature.

2. Talking With Customers
No one cares what you or your company does, they care about their problems and how you will solve them.  During customer meetings, pitch your idea of the future conversationally and then listen to the subtext in what is being said rather than the exact specifics.  There’s a huge difference between what people say they want and how they behave, as I’m sure you’ve heard before many times.

Use coffee meetings to have an informal discussion about your customer’s life.  Ask questions like “What are you working on?” and “What would make your job easier?” to get the conversation going.

3. Don’t Forget About Changing The World
Is this you?  Your email is a constant stream of things customers can’t do with your product and examples of how other products are doing things much better.  Of course it is, that’s life as a Product Manager.  A mistake PMs make is turning this input into a todo list for the product and losing focus on game changing ideas.   Remember, you are at the intersection of what your customers need, how your product can help them and how that can fuel your business.  You are in a unique position to envision and empower amazing ideas that get turned into real life and job changing solutions for people.

Keep a notebook next to your bed.  When you wakeup with some incredible product idea you’ve been dreaming about, sketch it out.  This will help you be free of the constraints and realities you may face on your team and allow you to think big.

For further reading:
What, exactly, is a Product Manager?
Good Product Team Bad Product Team