outsourcing

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In marketing there are 3 schools of thought.

There are those who believe the easier you make products to use – the more intuitive they are – the more pervasive they will be.  Out-of-box experience, plug-and-play are terms used by this school. My strategy for Zude operated here: “The fastest, easiest way to build and manage a website.”

Then there is the school that knows people will need to be trained in order to get proper functionality out of products. Long instruction guides, tutorials, and actual training personal are part of this equation. When the level of complication is too great, training comes into play. Know how to tune a carburetor? Have you figured out Excel on your own? Do your teachers know how to manipulate the interactive white board?  Training is a growing category in the commerce world.

Lastly, there is the group that thrives on complexity and for which outsourcing is the model. Medicine is one. Taxes another. Law and reading a financial prospectus also come to mind. When it comes to things like taxes, complication is a cottage industry. Complication is a self-fulfilling industry.

Microsoft plays across all three of these areas.  It creates products a lay person can use.  It also builds into those products with levels of complexity that require mad training. But the over-engineered portion of those products, the 85 features no one uses in Microsoft Word, feed the needs of techies who love training and being trained.  Lastly, Microsoft has an ecosystem that is so complicated it requires outsourcing (Can you say IT department? Can you say systems integrators? Can you say cloud?)   I wonder if this across-the-board approach, which clearly has been lucrative, is what makes Microsoft such a huge, yet often vilified brand.

Anyway, the approach your company takes is a very important, upfront decision and impacts the brand experience. Pick one. Peace!

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Clearly, innovation is always in.  Perhaps the bigger question is whether innovation should be pursued inside the company or out.  It’s happening both ways.  Innovation is big, big business. Ad agencies, digital shops and marketing companies have Chief Innovation Officers.  Lots of money is spent in internal innovation departments and outsourced innovation companies…and the crowdsourcing phenomenon is contributing.   Pepsi outsources its innovations and it has done remarkably well with it.

Innovation is the result of hard work and serendipity. I am of the mind that it’s most likely to occur from people doing not people sitting around thinking.  The famous story of the 3M’s Post-It note resulting from a lab spill comes to mind.

The answer to the in or out question is a little bit of both, but working together.    Inside to set the product or service stage and context — and outside for the random, unfettered thinking and consumer insights of trained selling and marketing minds.  Peace!

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Cap This!

 
CapGemini is a very good IT Consulting company. A large chunk of its revenue is tied to outsourcing. I have had the pleasure of working for Cap as a marketing agent and they have always had a good product and a good strategic angle but their communications strategy, especially in the U.S., has faltered. It is nowhere more evident than in their latest outsourcing print ad campaign.
 
This stuff is “we’re here” advertising at it very worst. “We’re here” advertising explains what business you’re in and gives customers a way to get in touch. No selling. No art. No emotion.
 
In today’s ad, adjacent to a cartoon of a hotel employee dressed in desert fatigues collecting car keys from a couple getting out of a car is the headline “In our hands, your system will never get out of hand.” The metaphor, apparently, is “your car is in good hands, while in the hotel.”  OMG! The copy prattles on about outsourcing giving you the freedom to do what you do best, or some such nonsense.
 
I did some planning for the outsourcing group at Cap and they are way smarter than this. The top bosses may not be, but the line general certainly was. This is a disgrace. Who would want to outsource their business to a company who can’t communicate clearly.
 
In case anyone is reading the business press: Capgemini is in the outsourcing business. Woo hoo!
 

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