the real integrated marketing

A nice observation in the NYT today:

[E] xpanding [student] expertise beyond computer programming is crucial to future job security as advances in the Internet and low-cost computers make it easier to shift some technology jobs to nations with well-educated engineers and lower wages, like India and China.

"If you have only technical knowledge, you are vulnerable," said Thomas W. Malone, a professor at the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of "The Future of Work" (Harvard Business School Press, 2004). "But if you can combine business or scientific knowledge with technical savvy, there are a lot of opportunities. And it’s a lot harder to move that kind of work offshore."

This suggests that the first world advantage will not come from being a knowledge worker and the isolated creation of intellectual capital.  It will come from the ability to see how technical knowledge integrates with a fuller  range of marketing intelligence. 

Western cultures have done very well by constructing knowledge silos and making management the cat walk that sees to their integration.  The development of which Malone speaks suggests that the wealth of nations may also come building into the individual a fuller appreciation of the ultimate uses and markets for which any particular act of innovation is destined. 

This is another way of saying that marketing, with a little application, might still be the hero of the piece, the wheel house on which the wealth of Western nations, er, turns. 


Lohr, Steve.  2005.  A Techie, Absolutely, and More.  New York Times.  August 23, 2005. here.

(filed from Philadelphia)

5 thoughts on “the real integrated marketing

  1. Tom Guarriello

    The whole notion of silos is being re-thought. More and more, one of those “non-technical skills” of successful innovators is an ability to walk the catwalk and integrate knowledge with that of others.

  2. Tom Guarriello

    Just found a quote by Charles Landry (speaking about creating creative cities) that may be relevant: “the key today is to think at the edge of one’s competence, not at the center. We assume you know how to do what your specialty is, but ‘solving the problem’ is all about [crossing] boundaries, borders and all of that…”

  3. Phil Psilos

    Yet breaking down silos- when working across firm networks- can present other challenges. Many companies keep technical work in silos so they can outsource pieces of development and manufacturing without the risk that competitors or subcontractors could copy entire product specs/plans/etc and create counterfeits…in other words, to defend or preserve intellectual property…So there is a defensive dimension to “siloing” as well as an offensive one.

  4. Peter McB.

    I recall a flurry of articles in the British press in 1988-89 about the urgent need in business for “hybrids” — people with both IT and non-technological expertise. Has futurology now been around long enough that one can make a living as a futurologist by repeating past predictions?

  5. steve

    I believe the term at Honda is that they want “T-shaped” people–deep in one area and broad (if shallow) across the rest. That way you can have cross-functional teams that a) have enough common ground to communicate and frame problems and b) enough differentiated specialist expertise to have something useful to say to one another.

    If any foolish person cares, I have a 2002 paper in Organization Science on “Islands of Shared Knowledge: Specialization and Mutual Understanding in Problem-Solving Teams” that tries to lay out some basic theoretical principles about when silos are or are not a good idea. (I don’t mention Phil’s excellent point about secrecy above, because the focus is on the problem-solving aspects of knowledge specialization.) Warning: It’s pretty “academic,” i.e. not a sprightly read, but it does try to get at some knotty basic stuff that usually gets ignored.

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