The announcement of Steve Jobs taking another medical leave is an unfortunate but timely bit of news to put this series wrap up in perspective. Jobs has established Apple as the leading consumer electronics company in the world. For all intents and purposes, what Apple does drives the rest of the industry. Apple did not introduce the media player, it just made one that most people could use. Apple did not introduce music sharing, it just made it legally acceptable. Apple did not introduce the smart phone, it just made the smart phone practical for the mass market. Apple did not introduce the tablet computer, it just reintroduced it when the public actually wanted one. Jobs was at the center of all these decisions.
Important to note: Jobs is not an engineer. He has some technical experience but he has stated the college course that was most responsible for the creation of the Mac was a calligraphy class he audited at Reed College, shortly after he had dropped out of the school. What made him successful was not technical knowledge. He knew smart engineers that could realize his ideas, but the engineering never interested him. The user experience did. This is the man that has driven the direction of the electronics world for most of the past two decades. But if he showed up today at any of the leading electronics companies for a job, he would not even get in as a janitor.
Yesterday, after establishing my evidence for the lack of vision or even understanding of the consumer market within the leadership of the electronics industry (most of whom are engineers) I said something drastic had to be done. I repeat my assertion from the first part of the series: Engineers need to be removed from the management of the electronics industry. Specifically:
- Any member of management, in fact, that cannot demonstrate a basic understanding of modern communications practices (yes, that includes Twitter) needs to be contained in the engineering division and kept away from the financial and technological marketing decisions. This includes anyone in finance that continues to defund marketing programs. These people should be replaced with personnel within the company that have this knowledge, or my consultants who can step in immediately. (I can make recommendations. In fact, I know several in EDA companies that should be recruited)
- Any marketer who utters the phrases: "We know who our customers are...," needs to be reassigned.
- Any employee who asks: "What is the ROI...?" and cannot answer the same question for the company's product in specifics and on his own job, needs to be shown the door.
- Budgets must be immediately reworked. At least 1 percent of R&D budgets should be reassigned to real market research. If staffing does not provide for that research, it must be acquired either through personnel or outsourcing. At least 10 percent of all trade show budgets should be applied to social media budgets, including measurement tools (If you want to know how, my rates are reasonable. If you don't want to work with me I can suggest a lot of good people) At least 10 percent of sales collateral budgets, including that assigned to press releases, should be reassigned to advertising, based on the information developed by the new market research and input from the conversation developed from the social media program.
- Everyone in the company with any connection to the decisions of company direction and vision should be required to spend at least 15 minutes a day maintaining a social media presence and conversation, and then providing regular reports to management about what they have found. (there are tools available to manage this process.)
I would make a comment about venture capitalists working in the electronics industry, but they abandoned it long ago so I don't think there is any point in bringing it up
We have a very short window to turn this mess around. Let's get to work now or call the grave diggers. There will be no bail-out this time.