Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Battlefield: Techies vs. Marketers

In business school we often talked of the inevitable battle between the tech guys and the marketing guys in a company, and the difficulties in managing roles, communication and solutions between the two departments. As I have previously worked in more consulting or retail roles, I am experiencing this for the first time in my internship in an IT company.

Today I was again stunned at the vast gap between our points of view. Something that I felt should be designed simple, targeted and usable for the purpose of the customer's clarity was actually designed very complicated and with so many functions that existed for no other reason than "because we can," or "it's cool though, right?" I both participated and watched today for two and a half hours while 7 people battled it out on a whiteboard, and realized a lot in the process:

A) Things you think are right or obvious are not always so obvious to your coworker. This goes both ways of course. I often couldn't see the week's worth of programming that my 60 second suggestion would create.
B) Therefore you should always be prepared to have both sides list pros and cons of their suggestions.
C) Look at both sides suggestions' effect on sales and the bottom line.
D) Always come prepared with the appropriate market research to back up your opinion. Thinking that you or your group's perspective actually represents the entire target market can be a huge mistake.

The only reason I could shut down one of the arguments today is because I happened to include that question in December's 400-person targeted survey, therefore disproving the assumptions the other side was making about the way they thought the market would react.

After they developed these technologies in R&D phase for 2 years, I am one of the first people brought into the company with a market-driven perspective and it is like trying to turn around a tanker that is on full-speed ahead. However, we are making progress and all of us learning in the process. It's always fun to see business school in action...

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