Chris Halliwell is an experienced business-to-business marketing professional focused on helping technology-enabled companies become market-driven. Her teaching, consulting, and process facilitation clients include Analog Devices, Baker Hughes, Corning, Intuitive Surgical, Johnson Electric, Northrop Grumman, Siemens, St. Jude Medical, and Veeco Instruments.
Chris’ career began selling mainframe computers for IBM, and then running corporate strategic marketing for a fast growing semiconductor company, Intel. From Intel Chris joined the original Silicon Valley high tech marketing consulting firm, Regis McKenna, Inc and stayed on for 10 years, ultimately as Managing Partner. As part of the Caltech executive education program for more than 20 years, Chris developed and delivered the Strategic Marketing of Technology Products, Creating the Market-Driven Organization workshop to over 3500 participants worldwide. She has been a guest lecturer in strategic marketing and entrepreneurship at Caltech, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Missouri.
Chris is now the founder and director of www.technologymarketingcenter.com, an online community for technically educated professionals that was recognized in 2008 by the Academy of Marketing Sciences as a unique experiential learning facility for executive education follow-up. The Technology Marketing Center provides access to executive-contributed content, reflections on lessons learned in leading teams to create and execute market-driven strategy.
What are you working on right now?
The joy of consulting is the opportunity for lifelong learning — new technologies, new teamwork techniques, new technology marketing topics and tools. Right now I’m learning about unmanned aircraft systems. This is definitely advanced, cool technology and it is a terrific opportunity to apply everything I’ve learned over the years about driving adoption and building new markets. Another project I’m working on, finally demystifying an important part of technology marketing, is integrating pricing strategy into the marketing mix. We’re defining a roadmap to increasingly precise understanding of customer value from product concept through to sales messages; we’re applying segment mapping to price tier feature configuration; and we’re working with the sales team to understand pricing dynamics as they apply to innovative technologies and major accounts.
3 Trends that excite you
One trend, three important aspects…Being a fiercely independent type, I’m intrigued by the growing challenge and opportunity of self-sufficiency in the way we work, live, and play. As large institutions fail to scale, crumble and fall around us, we are forced to self-service, self-employ, and self-entertain. Of course all of this self reliance would drive us back into the dark ages without the packaging and distribution of information and knowledge network content enabled by the internet.
On a personal level I am stunned at my inability to get the familiar brands of my past, from Sears to HP, to take responsibility for the Chinese-made crap they sell; and I am worn down by the time sink of dealing with service provider “customer service” departments, which, I have learned, is code for “price confuse-ology” department. On the other hand, as long as I can get to the internet I can get to a discussion board and figure out, in about 10 minutes, how to fix things myself, and where to go to get the best deal on any purchase.
The implications of self-sufficiency for a high tech business are, like many business truisms, both obvious and hard to grasp by a technically trained manager. As our technologies mature we have to look to ancillary technologies, software, partnerships, and finally, knowledge content for differentiation and competitive advantage. The technology that drove company success in the early years has to be transformed, packaged, and distributed as technology application know-how; from a tangible to an increasingly intangible value.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I read. I assign myself to my own graduate seminar on whatever subject I must master to evaluate, form, and execute a really good idea. I refuse to be intimidated — I don’t know what I don’t know and if I did I wouldn’t create anything spectacular.
Then I talk to anyone I know or who might know someone who has some information on the subject at hand. I made spending money in college as a subject in Delphi experiments at Rand Corporation, down the road from UCLA. I learned a profound lesson — 20 complete strangers, with no affiliation or shared interests, can accurately estimate the number of turkeys in the US in 1939 simply by combining and comparing random known factoids.
Finally, I turn to a small corps of terrific colleagues I’ve cultivated over the years that like to execute wild-haired ideas with me. This cadre of exceptionally effective creators are generous with their time, they love to learn, and I make sure we have a lot of fun doing the work of making something new happen.
What are 5 sure fire methods of getting technically oriented teams to be more successful in commercializing innovations by applying the right business and market perspective?
1. Insist on a disciplined process of getting the right technologists engaged with the right customers, asking the right questions.
2. Provide a common vocabulary and conceptual toolkit so that technically trained teams ask themselves the right questions about the environment, customers, and competitive alternatives.
3. Visibly reward leaders who bring forward, with genuine enthusiasm, a vision of technology-enable business opportunity that is backed up by quantification of economic value for the customer and the firm — and keep these people around long enough that you can promote them after they drive successful execution of the vision.
4. Weed out the managers who can’t embrace opportunities you provide to learn the softer skills: dealing with uncertainty, cross-functional team facilitation, project management, negotiation, and the like.
5. Remember that business and market strategy are discussions that lead to decisions that result in competitive advantage. Strategy is not a person or a department or a document. Strategy is leadership to ask, to decide, and to act.
What do you want to learn next?
Professionally, I want to continue to learn more about how to use the power of the internet to educate, to connect, and to sell. My self-sufficient consulting business depends on it.
Personally, I want to learn all the things my children know that I don’t, like how to square dance, or how to spot edible mushrooms, or how to incorporate hats into your everyday look.