From Saeed’s post about consumer products versus Big Honkin’ Technology products:

You know, sometimes I wonder why I’m not working in consumer products. Not consumer software, but consumer products.

I’ve joked about this with my software product management friends before. Life would be a lot easier it seems. Forget about all the detailed technical work, and all the efforts to keep pace or leap frog the competition, and all the tedium of ensuring compatibility with 3rd party products. Just make the packaging bigger, or smaller, or add a nice lemony scent, or blue dots or something else, and launch a big new campaign to get customers!

We do have an equivalent in the Big Honkin’ Technolkogy (BHT) industry. It’s called product marketing.

Product marketing is not a trivial exercise. As one of my colleagues, Laura Ramos, has discovered, investment in product marketing is steadily rising in our industry. (I’m supposed to call our industry TI, but since it’s Friday, I’m going to keep calling it BHT until someone slaps me.) I don’t think it’s hard for many of us on the inside to guess why that might be the case: communicating the utility of a piece of technology is not the BHT industry’s strongest suit.

In another post on the same blog, Ethan tells, with some amusement, the story of the million dollar baby monitor:

In the UK when they had a similar unlimited mobile minutes promotion a few years ago, a man told me he used his and his wife’s cell phones as a baby monitor – all night and every time the baby had a nap.

Technology producers can’t predict completely who will use their technology, and why. Facebook wasn’t designed to be a recruiting tool–but people sometimes use it as a gentler, friendlier alternative to LinkedIn or Monster.

To reach a new audience, many BHT companies should take seriously repackaging what they already have. Product managers who have done a good job of staying in touch with customers, researching use cases, and staying on top of bug reports can tell you all about the unexpected ways someone has used their technology.

Rather than looking on these unexpected use cases with condescension and bemusement (an all too common reaction, in my experience), why not embrace them as product marketing opportunities? Rather than dismiss this information, look at it as a cheap alternative to researching new markets. It’s not all the information you need, but it’s a good start.

And if people want to use a BI tool to analyze their children’s schoolwork…Go for it.