Technology for Show, Solutions for Dough

There is a time-tested truism from golf that states: “drive for show, and putt for dough”.  The basic premise is that while the big, seemingly impressive parts of golf—the big, booming long drives, pale in importance to the little things that complete the game—namely the final job of rolling the ball into the hole efficiently to score well.  Yes, I’m stealing and modifying this because of some parallels that I’ve seen as we market technology.  Let me explain.

Since we live and breathe in a high technology environment and work with some of the best and brightest technical minds, we tend to get “wowed” by big technology breakthroughs. These may be the technical equivalents of 450 yard golf drives--impressive, but only a part of the game and only useful if the drive lands on the fairway. What we sometimes underestimate is that much of the universe is not going to have the deep immersion in our technologies, and may not have the context to see how breakthrough it may be.  They have businesses to run and grow, they don’t necessarily need or want to be technologist just to appreciate our “big drives”.

As marketers (and for all of us as a technology solutions company), we need to be focused on the context of the game. It is not about the big technology breakthroughs, it is about the way customers can use these technologies. In this scenario, our equivalent of solid and efficient putting is compelling and well-enabled use models and the solution stacks.  I’ve personally experienced the power of the use model to transform the technology discussion into the solution discussion as we rolled out Intel Trusted Execution Technology (Intel® TXT).

One would think that a technology to reduce malware would need little explanation or justification.  Everyone knows that malware is bad and should want to keep it off their platform.  But this discussion of Intel TXT on these terms was surprisingly (to me) very flat and unexciting. But beginning at IDF San Francisco in Sept 2009 we changed the dialog.  We began to talk about how TXT could be used to support the types of activities that already want/need to do. The change in response to our messages was eye-opening. The levels of interest and engagement became materially different virtually overnight.

Being able to show the technology to customers as part of useful business solutions comprised of hardware and software sold and supported by a numbers of vendors was inherently more interesting. No longer was the dialog about cool anti-malware technology (which Intel TXT still is!), but it is now about solutions to help control and secure dynamic virtual environments or provide security and compliance enhancements to make cloud computing more suitable for sensitive workloads.

Here is an example how we team up with our ecosystem for solutions demonstrations that actually minimize the technology discussion of Intel TXT but provide a very well-received use model that has generated significant customer interest.  Having a compelling use model focused on business needs and demonstrating this capability with companies like VMware and RSA really changed the equation—as earlier demonstrations of “trusted pools” with VMware and HyTrust had at IDF 2009.  As a result of this shift in focus and these activities, we’re in the process of engaging customers with proof-of-concept implementations of these very use models now.

While we all still clearly love technology and Intel’s ability for technical innovation, I’ve seen a growing number of my peers taking a similar increased appreciation for rich solutions-driven discussions.  This means having focused efforts to put the right ecosystem support around our technology building blocks and for engaging customers to vet and refine use models.  With these changes, we’re helping move Intel from the big hitter on the driving range to a more complete player capable of staying on top of the leaderboard of companies that provide real business solutions.  We will be using upcoming venues such as VMworld, IDF and others to continue to extend this use-model centric dialog to better align Intel innovations to real business needs.  Come by the Intel booth (#509) at VMworld Aug 30-Sept 2 for a first-hand look at what we have in store as we complement our booming long drive technology leadership games with the finesse “putting” together of solutions.