Rise of the Techno-marketer

The latest mantra in business today: Marketing is everything.

Therefore, information technology has become an integral part of any

smart company's marketing strategy, and vice versa.

So says Regis McKenna, chairman of The McKenna Group, an IT marketing

consulting firm in Mountain View, Calif. And McKenna should know. He

worked with Microsoft Corp., Apple Computer Inc. and Intel Corp. at

their earliest stages and has expanded his scope to include

manufacturing, financial services and health care companies.

"We're beginning to see a new type of IT person," he says. "The CIOs of

FedEx and Proctor & Gamble both came out of marketing."

When marketing becomes everything, it's everybody's job. "Marketing is

so pervasive that it's no longer a function but a process," says

McKenna. "And the people who can best manage process is the IT

department, because they manage the network. It's the network that's

connecting the customer to all the people in the organization. I can't

think of any major business for which information and network are not

essential to the progress and success of a corporation."

McKenna's principles are borne out by Rishi Madabusi, global business

development manager at IBM Product Lifecycle Management Solutions in

Chicago. This new division of IBM is charged with seeking out new

clients, assessing their needs and tailoring and pitching IBM products

to them.

Madabusi must assess information on manufacturing companies that's

gathered by IBM's sales staff. His job is to take that information -

such as a company's hot buttons, growth potential and major hurdles -

and "show them that I have the technologies that they need," he

says. "I may have to do some further consulting to get the right answer

from them. I may have to work with developers to change software - with

anything you need. It has got to be that easy. We've got to make it so

you won't need anything else. It's our role to make it easy to buy our

products."

Variety got Madabusi where he is today. His background is in

engineering, and he's developed and written software. "Then I realized

that since I knew how these products worked, I could promote their uses

to prospective customers," Madabusi says. "So I moved into the

marketing arena."

IT adaptation

The rulebooks for marketing have been thrown out the window, now that

technology has been brought to bear.

"In our case, our solutions are very differentiated and

differentiable," says Madabusi. "It's no longer a matter of selling to

the 95th percentile of what a focus group says, because there is no

95th-percentile human being. In marketing IT, rather than talk about

the business, we talk about the consumer."

Madabusi's mission is to explain the technology to customers, make sure

the sales force understands the technology and be sure that his team

can implement the systems they promise.

There are plenty of opportunities for IT professionals with marketing

expertise and for marketing people who know IT.

"In the last three weeks, I've talked to 10 companies, putting together

solutions, from digital video editing to wireless speech technologies,"

Madabusi says. "I don't see a saturation point for demand for IT

marketers in the foreseeable future. There are a lot of ground-floor

and mezzanine opportunities for people just entering the field."

As for salary, Madabusi declined to give specific numbers but says, "If

you're a marketing person, you won't be slaving away for nothing.

Salaries are very competitive - definitely on the higher end of the

professional spectrum. Most companies will provide you with incentives,

bonuses and enough little tickers along the way to make it very

attractive."

These pleasant perks aren't for nothing. The job brings with it many

challenges. Competition is first and foremost.

"Competitors are just as hungry, just as smart as you," says

Madabusi. "We not only have to keep ahead of them, we have to make sure

clients understand we're ahead of them. My top competitor in four years

may be someone I might not [have] even heard of, starting up

tomorrow."

Says Madabusi: "It is very exciting to work in this collaborative,

creative way. When you see a car or a plane or a golf club or whatever

else your solutions have helped to produce, it's very exciting."

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