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Information Technology Marketing: A Skeptic’s Response

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Information Technology Marketing: A Skeptic’s Response
Issue 30, Winter 2006

Information Technology Marketing: A Skeptic’s Response

by Benefo Ofosu Benefo III, MPLP Technoglogy Coordinator


The incessant aspiration that motivates us to purchase items, services and merchandise is the very same characteristic most readily identified by both charlatans and marketing executives alike. Business consumers are not merely prey to the product manager; they are, in theory, the weaker component of a symbiotic relationship. Whether service provider, product manufacturer, consulting agency or VAR (value added reseller), IT vendors are dependent upon consumers for their sustenance. Perhaps the most pervasive of all instruments intrinsic to capitalism, the effective deployment of marketing techniques incorporates a seemingly reprehensible approach to recognizing and capturing potential customers. Within this rather broad assessment, several key concepts abound, affording even the layman an opportunity to grasp the considerably complex inner-workings of the client-solicitation machine.

Consider the following scenario: an ISP (Internet Service Provider) identifies a segment of its dedicated business services customer base1 as a test market for a new product. Touted as an inexpensive, high-bandwidth ADSL connection for small LANs (less than 25 users) in commercial applications, the ISP dubs the offering “Small Office Connectivity Solution” (SOCS) and introduces the product to prospective customers with appropriate business requirements. Given a cursory glance, there is no obvious culpability. However, as one examines technical aspects, the ISP’s new product is surprisingly similar to an existing product- one designed for home users and as such, neither suitable2 for mission-critical applications nor worth the 50% premium charged for its use. Priced less than SDSL services, “SOCS” is marketed to businesses as a viable, cost effective alternative, a convenient device employed by the ISP to increase revenues. Upon determining the package details and finalizing sales objectives, the product is deployed nonetheless, having been advertised and promoted through additional rebates and new contract incentives.

Much akin to other ubiquitous, covert and grossly underestimated societal elements, modern day marketing practices have established a precedent that defines our behaviors. It is this inconspicuous, yet overwhelming mechanism that informs us about ourselves, persuading us to acquire the items we need (or perhaps, want) without warrant or invitation. Valuable beyond the allure of the ready-made solution, careful study of our business requirements and a comprehensive understanding of technology would better serve our purposes.

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1. businesses contracting for internet access through leased lines, dedicated services or SDSL connections to ATM backbones

2. Typically, ISPs do not offer SLAs, or service level agreements for ADSL products, as the technology is subject to performance factors governed by additional parties (i.e., ILECs or local telephone companies)


 


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