Tag Archives: books

“What High Tech Marketing is … and isn’t” excerpts from book published by Pune’s @AbhijitAthavale

(Recently, Pune-based Abhijit Athavale, Founder of Markonix, a technology marketing and learning development company with deep roots in Silicon Valley, wrote a book called “The Edge of Zero: High Tech Marketing in the Age of Falling Growth”, with co-author Peter Gasperini. We invited Abhijit to give us a short write-up about the book and an excerpt from the book, for the benefit of PuneTech readers.)

What High Tech Marketing is … and isn’t

Many industries suffer from an incomplete understanding of what purpose Marketing actually serves. High Tech has been amongst the worst offenders in this, and the misconceptions of Marketing’s role and domain in the Technology business has persisted in various forms and levels of severity for all of the industry’s 40+ years. Internal characterizations of Marketing’s domain tend to inexorably converge on the following set of simple descriptions:

  • “Marketing is Sales”
  • “Marketing is Customer Service”
  • “Marketing manages Programs”
  • “Marketing runs Promotions and Ads”
  • “Marketing controls Pricing”

The insidiously deceptive factor common to the above statements is that they are all true – in part.

Does the above list encompass everything Marketing is supposed to do? Actually, NO. Operations and Engineering are quite correct in their assumptions that Marketing is the proper organization for handling the above mentioned problem areas. But there is much more to the proper practice of Marketing for High Tech than what was mentioned above.

It is a very broad field requiring depth and experience in both hard and soft disciplines, purely engineering and purely business fields, and both technical and customer interaction skillsets. And since these factors influence and interleave with each other, professionally complete High Tech marketers need to be able to swim these clashing currents without being pulled under or swept off to the side.

Marketing is, fundamentally, a LEADERSHIP role. The very act of initiating a Marketing plan to execute the strategy for a company and its products means identifying the Value propositions which will make a firm’s offerings compelling to its target market. This means a high Tech marketer must be able to simultaneously grasp the potential of the company’s engineering team, the aptitude of its operations arm, the expectations, desires and dreams of its customers, and the capacity of its sales force. When a Marketing plan is formulated correctly, an enterprise will have the knowledge to develop the kinds of products its customers will happily buy, which the factory can skillfully build, and the sales force can readily sell.

Our new book, ‘The Edge of Zero’ discusses challenges of high tech Marketing in the age of falling growth. Here’s an excerpt from ‘What Makes a Good Marketer’ chapter:

Crossfire – An excerpt from The Edge of Zero

If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces. – Shakespeare, ‘The Merchant of Venice’

Marketers in High Tech can be overwhelmed by the 180 degree contradictions between the needs and desires of the Field and the Factory, especially at the junior level. Unfortunately, many choose the simplicity and expediency of picking a side. A technically oriented marketer will feel more drawn to their comfort zone thru siding with the Factory, whereas a more socially oriented or less technically savvy marketer will tend to gravitate towards the Field.

Either choice is extraordinarily destructive to the business as a whole. Borrowing liberally from basic Physics principles, one could make the analogy that Conservation of Energy – every action causes an equal and opposite reaction – takes hold in such companies in a very negative aspect, with long term crippling effects. By choosing a side, a Marketer reinforces and exacerbates any existing antagonism between the two warring camps.

A Marketer that fulfills his role properly is supposed to straddle the fence between Order and Chaos, reconciling them without forcing a damaging compromise on either. It’s no easy task, but skirting the challenge in favor of the easier path of taking sides creates a schism right down the center of the enterprise. It embeds conflict, distrust and friction between the Factory and Field, which ultimately translates into a complete disconnect between a company and its customers.

It boils down to a loss of vital information. The Factory cannot design and build good products and solutions in a vacuum, but can hardly expect to gain insight into customer concerns, difficulties and aspirations if the company salesmen are unable to deliver valued solutions and support from the Factory to those customers, building the foundation for a long term relationship of communication, trust and mutual support. If the Factory and the Field are divided, the enterprise is choosing a path of creating successful products by a combination of learning thru serial failures and hoping to come up with a lucky choice of feature sets along the way. In the end, this is like jumping out a plane without a parachute, hoping to find someone who is more thoughtfully equipped on the way down.
You can look inside the book here before buying a copy.

About the Author – Abhijit Athavale

Abhijit Athavale was born in Pune, India. He moved to the US for further education and lived and worked in the Silicon Valley before returning to Pune. He still lives in the same house on the same street. He has diverse interests – from hi-tech marketing to sports to WWII era history and mysteries and likes to read and write about them.

Abhijit studied Electricial Engineering in COEP, followed by a Masters in Texas A&M University, after which he spent 11+ years, ending as Senior Marketing Manager at Xilinx, developing the marketing strategy for their $150MM+ Xilinx Connectivity solution – including messaging, value proposition development and product positioning.

More recently, Abhijit has helping evangelize and market new technologies Markonix, a company he founded with the idea of helping lower the cost of marketing and learning for businesses worldwide.

Abhijit also founded and runs PuneChips, one of the technology community platform incubated by PuneTech. PuneChips is a network for Semiconductor, EDA and Embedded Systems professionals in the Pune (India) area. PuneChips provides networking and learning opportunities from Industry mavens to its members.

For more details see his Linkedin profile or follow him on twitter

Book: Digital Republic: India’s rise to IT Power – by Mathai Joseph

Mathai Joseph is one of the most respected people in Pune’s software industry. An EVP at TCS, Director of TRDDC, visiting prof at CUM, Eindhoven, Warwick and York, he has experience at the top levels of both industry and academia, and he has seen the rise of India’s software industry from it’s birth.

Power Publisher’s has just released a book, “Digital Republic: India’s rise to IT Power” by Mathai Joseph which should be an interesting read for anyone in this field. Here is a description of the book:

This book analyses the rise of Indian computing. Interleaving history and memoir, it describes key moments and decisions that led to the slowdown in the 1960s and 1970s and the changes in the 1980s that fuelled the ascent of the software industry to pre-eminence in what has become one of the world’s most important industries. Along the way the author reflects on the nature of science, the importance of computing and the interplay of theory, experiment and technology. He discusses the wide differences in the academic perception of computing in India and the rest of the world and how it affected the growth of Indian computer science as well as the computing industry.This memoir is not a technical history and reading it does not need technical knowledge. It is a personal account of the unparalleled explosion of an industry seen through the eyes of someone who was there from the beginning.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

‘You realize every job you create in India is one less job here,’ said my American friend Luke. ‘Does that worry you?’

Luke patriotically drove a Detroit monster of a car. I asked him where the sub-assemblies for his car came from.

‘Many from outside the US nowadays,’ he admitted. ‘Designed by a US company, manufactured elsewhere. Costs here are too high for component companies to operate successfully.’

Not so different from what is happening in the IT industry, I said.

‘Come on,’ he said disbelievingly, ‘Manufacturing has been stratified over the years into layers to give companies manufacturing scale and an international market. How can you even compare that with the IT industry?’

The IT industry is also being stratified, I said. It no longer makes sense to design, implement and maintain a large system in the US or Europe: the costs are too high to keep a system running by paying US salaries. You have to keep lowering the costs of your product to stay competitive; moving system maintenance to countries where it can be done more economically is one way of doing this.

‘It’s not just maintenance: new software system development is also being sent outside the country.’

No one complained when the manufacture of auto components grew in other countries, I said. Why this concern about the same thing happening in the IT industry?

‘Because the jobs you are now taking are from people like me, not from an anonymous blue-collar worker in Missouri or Kansas.’

More excerpts are here and here

Here is Mathai talking about why he wrote the book:

The question I am asked most often is ‘What made you write this book?’ I know of two good answers (and there must be many more). First, we now take the success of computing and information technology in India for granted but things were very different when we started. It is important to have an account of what computing was really like in its early days in India. Second, most events are about people, so knowing more about them helps to understand what happened, and why. The people who seemed to play a central role in an era may be forgotten in a few years while those responsible for creating the changes that have endured are the ones who really matter.

Another answer is really a question: information technology now accounts to close to 8% of India’s GDP and employs over three million people. Yet there are just three books about this phenomenon that I know about (they are listed in the Acknowledgements). Just three books about an industry and a technology that have changed India more than any other?

Many will disagree with what I have written and I will try and respond to them here. My real plea to them is: write your own account of computing in India. The more that is written about this phenomenon, the better history will be able to draw conclusions.

About the Author – Mathai Joseph

Mathai Joseph did his PhD at the University of Cambridge and joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in 1968. He was appointed to a Chair in Computer Science at the University of Warwick in 1985. He joined TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) in 1997 as an Executive Vice President and was also Executive Director of TRDDC (Tata Research Development and Design Centre) until his retirement in 2007. At various times, he has been a visiting professor at Carnegie-Mellon University, Eindhoven University of Technology, University of Warwick and University of York. He was Chairman of the Board of the International Institute for Software Technology from 2005-2007. He has written several books and numerous papers. Mathai Joseph was the first person from India to be elected as a Member-at-Large of the ACM Council in 2008.

For more information, see http://mathaijoseph.com/

(Anyone interested in writing a detailed review of the book for PuneTech, please get in touch. Thanks.)