Engineers in Marketing meetup review

A guest blog post by Petri Kainulainen. Orginally published at Petri’s blog.

About a month ago my friend Janne asked me to talk at the Sales Engineering Finland meetup.

I said yes because the topic of my presentation was interesting, and I wanted to see what Sales Engineering Finland is all about.

The website of Sales Engineering Finland states that:

Sales Engineering Finland is a network of engineers and subject matter experts in or interested in sales and marketing. Let’s grasp the opportunity of the paradigm shift in sales and marketing and lead the way in change of attitude towards selling in Finland.

Doesn’t that sound interesting? My thoughts exactly!

Anyway, that meetup was held on 21st of April at Futurice , and this is my report from the event.

The Evening Started With Presentations

The meetup had three presentations:

  • Laura Snelmann-Junna (Head of Marketing, Futurice) described how Futurice leverages engineers in their marketing efforts. I must admit that the term leverage might not be a bit negative because I got the impression that futupeople are marketers firsts and engineers second. Or maybe that sounded a bit fishy as well. Let’s just say that they care about their customers and colleagues.
  • I identified four reasons why people think that they cannot write a technical blog and (hopefully) crushed those excuses. I was also prepared to describe the lessons that I learned when I wrote my first book, but I skipped that part because I ran out of time. Also, if you want to take a look at the slides of my presentation, you can get them from Slideshare.
  • Marko Saarinen (Principal Industry Partner, Service Development, Digia) described the responsibilities of a digital marketing engineer and mentioned a few companies that have understood what digital marketing really means. I got the impression that is almost impossible to find people who can find meaningful patterns from the gathered data, present these patterns in a visually appealing way, and find good answers to the questions asked by the management. In other words, if you happen to have the required skills, this might be a very lucrative career path for your.

My Trip Back to Home Started Too Soon

Unfortunately I had leave right after the presentations were over because I had to catch the train back to Tampere.

This meant that I didn’t have a lot of time for networking, but I managed to meet Timo Sorri, who has a very interesting business idea. His company (Havain) designs impressive Keynote, Powerpoint, and Prezi presentations.

He wanted to do a complete makeover to my slide deck and write a blog post (in Finnish) about it. I agreed, and the new slide deck looks awesome.

Anyway, although I had to leave too early, I am happy that I traveled to Helsinki because the meetup was worth it. The other two presentations were interesting, and I had some interesting discussions. Also, I got something new to read and an awesome credit card holder.

If you are an engineer who is interested in marketing and networking, you should visit the next Sales Engineering Finland meetup. The atmosphere is really friendly and relaxed, and I promise that you will meet many interesting people. And who knows, maybe I will be one of them.

Editor’s note: thank you! Remember to follow Petri at Twitter.

Digitalization Is Also About the Technology

Particle Accelerator
Muon Barrel (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Finnish economy is at a dead end. It not just about the financial crisis and aging population: our engineering driven paper and electronics industries have shrunk to a fraction of what they used to be. With the loss of Nokia’s consumer business, we tend to blame ourselves for our strong engineering roots and lack of sales and marketing skills. We pine for the Swede’s marketing driven success with global consumer brands and we see our industrial success as a thing of past.

Now as we pin our hopes on digitalization, which is seen as paradigm shift comparable to the industrial revolution, we have seen the cautious warnings about not repeating the mistake of the past by approaching digitalization as driven by technology. Important remark; it is not about the technology, but it is certainly also about the technology. It doesn’t matter if you keep beating around the bush by, for example, outsourcing your technology know-how. Digitalization is a renaissance, an all-encompassing change, and technology is definitely part of it.

Look at Uber. Yes, they have a revolutionary business model and excellent marketing. But many say that their greatest asset and most significant innovation is the algorithm they use to balance supply and demand. Look at Amazon, which started as a book store. Many see AWS cloud infrastructure as potentially the most valuable part of Amazon. And look at Netflix and how their development has come up with dozens of revolutionary open source projects.

It is not a question about whether the digitalization is driven by technology, economics or a cultural change: capitalizing it requires a balanced understanding of it all. That’s why it is no coincidence that many digital disruption success stories have been written by start-ups. It is not easy to enable the renaissance in an established, fragmented, organization. Small groups are better at a complex task. Just compare the Apple team responsible for the first iPhone with the size of Nokia’s mobile phone organization.

This does not mean the change can’t be led by an established organization. Look at what Tieto is doing with the IoT startup inside the company. The best practice is to split the organization into two distinct groups: one taking care of the traditional operations — running today’s enterprise — and the other in charge of exploring and developing the next generation. This applies whether you are moving to dev-ops, experimenting with its counterpart growth hacking, looking into internet of things or wondering how to approach digitalization

My suggestion is that we do not forget our strong technical roots, but instead refresh them and use them as a base to build on. The change is all-encompassing. The Swedes have the same struggle with a strong marketing driven culture  and trying to integrate technology into the picture.

Join Sales Engineering Finland: let’s come up with something great!