Last week, I wrote this blog that discussed the parallels between being an enterprise architect in an end user organization and being a product leader for a tech provider. I thought I’d add a wrinkle this week since many of the conversations at the EA Summit led to the following question: “But how do I sell/convince/persuade/ask our CIO/COO/CEO to recognize the value of the EA role and invest or simply work with us accordingly?” Simple: you also have to be a product marketer.
I COULD have simplified that statement to being “just” a marketer, but I think product marketer is more on point. Given the growing relationship of to practically all products and services offered by end user/brand companies, it’s imperative that the value of the technical components, capabilities, platforms, related infrastructures, etc. be understood by those making funding decisions. This means that just as an enterprise architect has to be the glue among development (or DevOps), operations, CxOs, etc., the architect must also be able to relate technical value to and from the stakeholders across the organization. Whether it’s the business unit making demands on IT (or attempting an end-around), or it’s IT protesting about risk, cost, or relative technical maturity of suggested demands, the EA must be able to sell – or market – particular approaches or potential investments.
Product marketers must possess skills associated with what I term the “three Vs” (see this research report if you are a Gartner client): (Vertical) Value, Velocity, and (customer) Voice (OK, that’s four Vs). That is, they need to be able to convey the value of a given capability/feature, both in technical and business terms or context; they must drive the velocity of the product’s entry or journey into the market (through sales or channel enablement, educating influencers, etc.); and they have to help translate customer requirements to future product versions (though this may end up being a product management task in many cases) and generally be a customer advocate internally. EAs must exhibit these same characteristics when attempting to drive innovative or disruptive endeavors. They must understand and discuss the value of a potential investment in the context of their organization’s business, market, or ecosystem; they must help the variety of interested or involved IT parties make smart decisions about products or services (and convince or educate internal clients about them); and they must represent the voice of the organization’s customers through all of this.
As with a TSP’s product marketing endeavors, there are tools that can help. The creation of case studies, value assessment models (i.e., how and when value is obtained), and even videos that can help educate or create buzz are elements that the EA as product marketer should incorporate into strategic plans. Creating scenarios that include business moments addressed and business outcomes driven are key. Additionally, these may translate into fodder for customer facing marketing for new, technology infused products and services…or at least help educate the marketing team on how to position them. In short, product marketing can be as valuable a skill set for the EA as is product management.