Tag Archives: Product Conclave
NASSCOM Product Conclave 2009 was as expected a highly-interesting and definitely educating experience. The attendees included a potpourri of large corporates, emerging IT companies, start-ups, evangelists, academicians and of course the Press. The conclave began with key note address by Guy Kawasaki, MD, Garage Technology Ventures. He emphasized on not the best but the smartest utilization of available resources. Some key points made by the noted VC and evangelist that got me hooked were:
- Making use of OS, development platform and tools that are absolutely free rather than spending money on expensive tools and technologies
- Best possible usage of Cloud services
- Crowd-sourcing the product and making users as your beta tester rather than waiting for stabilizing the product at development level
- Leveraging social media and social networking in the right way as opposed to print, radio and TV ads
- Making use of Twitter and TweetMeme as a platform for market survey and analytics as well as marketing of your products
- Hiring college interns and enthusiast students to certified professionals since they are usually brighter and can be hired at a very nominal salary
The opinions on Guy’s theories were divided, but for me the above mentioned points seemed most relevant to my expectation from the event. From the marketing strategy perspective, I have always believed in the idea of optimal use of generic marketing strategies like SEO, SEM, Press Releases, Email campaigns, blogs and forums, quality marketing collaterals, networking events etc. rather than expenditure on expensive media like print, radio or television where the ROI won’t be attractive enough for start-up B2B companies having niche segment markets.
Next event in my itinerary was the “Workshop in Marketing and Branding Strategies for Product Organizations“ where I presented Drishti’s marketing map. Workshop Moderator Peter Yorke welcomed the panel and laid down the platform for the points to be discussed. The panel discussions at the workshop primarily included marketing strategies for product software companies, the challenges they face, possible solutions and industry specific best practices.
Peter hit the right chord by bringing up this intriguing topic of the need to change services mindset towards India as opposed to product development. With no-offences to IBM, HCL, Wipro or Infosys, they are the flag bearers of Indian IT industry, the general belief that India is primarily an IT services country needs to be changed. While the brightest brains behind microchips and even Windows 7 development included Indians, the perception lags far behind.
My personal fight in the industry has been to obtain equal professional respect for Indian software product companies and find answers to the conceptual questions like Are we building the right products? Are we marketing them rightly? Are we packaging the products as per global standards and able to establish a brand value? This also formed one of the reasons as to why NASSCOM Product Conclave was an event I was looking forward to. It was heartening to see an increase in number of product companies attending, moving up from somewhere around 371 last year to over 600. However, this figure is yet to bring satisfaction of acceptance to me as well as my fellow software product companies.
The remaining workshop session was quite interesting from the point of view of young software product companies. Lots of points emerged emphasizing on customer relationship management and customer satisfaction. One of the panelists Professor Venkateswaran, SDM, Mysore emphasized on the importance of customer retention. He stressed on the fact that a satisfied customer cannot be pulled away from a competitor no matter how aggressive our efforts might be. On the other hand a happy customer can be a brand advocate and bring surprising business by word-of-mouth marketing.
My personal belief in this regard aligns itself with this point – generating new business from existing customers is often more lucrative option as opposed to garnering a new client base. This theory is similar to the policies of cross-selling and up-selling in telemarketing services. Understanding the business environment of existing customer and then re-designing or tweaking the product thinking from the customer’s point of view can lead to generation of new business opportunities from the same customer.
Another noteworthy point was made by Sridhar Ramanujam, CEO, Brand-comm as he underlined the importance of creating lasting impressions on not just the customers but the entire community of investors, customers and employees (both current and potential). Samir Kumar, MD Inventus Cap elaborated on the essentials of a business plan which included customer focus marketing specifics and not just the technical capabilities of the product in question. He also suggested a way of calculating the ROI on marketing expenditure by comparing the marketing spend to the revenue generated per customer.
Following the Twitter and online social networking idea, there was a question on how should one handle any negative publicity like adverse comments in a blog posting. In reply to this, Aruna Schwarz, CEO, Stelae Technologies stressed on not just responding to the comment but also being consistent in your point of view. Emphasizing further, Aruna said handling feedback and prompt response to customer queries is also as important for customer relationship management.
The panel discussions highlighted the core of marketing – it’s not the product that is marketed but the entire customer experience. A company that can effectively sell a satisfying customer experience has won the battle. The entire process of pre-sales to post-sales requires equated emphasis from both the marketing & sales perspective of the company. Management of this ecosystem becomes mandatory in case you lie in the start-up and emerging segment.
In Drishti’s presentation, our focus was on the idea of marketing strategies we imply for a niche communication suite market. I presented our product and applications and a generic comparative analysis with the big guns to position our solution. Then I moved on to placing our brand value and marked our future outlook as we move up the ladder from being a start-up a few years back to an emerging company and further entering into large corporate segment.
A very interesting question that came up was how we ventured into building partnerships and associations outside the country of origin. Here I highlighted the importance of channel development and management in our marketing strategies. Even though local presence cannot be ruled out from the customer’s angle, a quality solution reaching out to them with custom capabilities and further advancements always find room. The key here is reaching out.
I elaborated further on our marketing mix and the basic strategies we follow to market our products in global markets. These include innovative business packaging, cost proposition, optimal use of expertise and effective team structuring. While explaining the same, my enthusiasm overtook the drive and I was cut short by the panelists for going elaborate on our product. Brought back on the track, I quickly gathered the focal point of discussion and summed up appreciatively
The product conclave progressed further with many more interesting discussions and left enthusiast participants like me a lasting impression. The industry knowledge gathered and marketing angles explored make it a highly enriching experience. As a company, Drishti was pleased to participate and would look forward to more such networking events from NASSCOM.