What Engineers Want From Marketers
If you’re a marketer, you already know what drives you nuts about engineers – and vice versa.
Usually, it festers around who calls the shots on new product development.
Marketers, and especially those with packaged goods experience, want earlier involvement.
Engineers usually hear this lament many months (or years) after they began writing densely technical, often inscrutable requirements. They want informed direction, sooner.
And then the wallop of “service velocity” hit. Gone is cable’s purgatory of “one new product every 18 months,” gated by legacy back office, conditional access, or guide issues. As Cox CTO Kevin Hart put it, during a CTAM Summit session last month: “Now, we’re doing 18 products in one year.”
The tech pieces accelerating product rollouts in cable are on a roll: Open standards, the migration to all-IP (Internet Protocol), and the prying open of back office components to remove proprietary hogties.
What’s on now is the workforce and cultural changes. And this is where you run into the lingo of “waterfall” vs. “agile” operations.
Primer: “Waterfall” means serial, step-by-step processes. Write a long requirements document. Get it into silicon. Test. Get it to device manufacturers. Test. Link into provisioning and billing systems. After all that, develop training, installation, customer care and – oh yes! – marketing plans.
“Agile” means working collaboratively, across departments, and in tandem. An “agile sprint” locks a small team into writing code that puts an existing feature into a companion service. Tech people call this “experience threading.” (My favorite example, for so many reasons: Voice mail that comes over as an email transcript.)
Cox, Comcast and others are already retuning the workforce for agility. Cox’s Hart meets all day on Tuesdays with the heads of marketing, product and operations — to review readiness checklists, prioritize resources, and liaison with call centers.
What do engineers want from marketers, these days? John Schanz, EVP of Network Engineering & Technical Operations for Comcast, seeks flexibility through the innovation process. “We need a give-and-take between the business, marketing and technology teams, even when you don’t really know exactly where the destination is.”
“Forge really tight partnerships across departments – that’s where the magic is,” said CableLabs CEO Phil McKinney.
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.