Engineering Vs Marketing

Two countries that think the other is evil.

The engineers say, "Galdurnit, Windows is so fricken complicated and inelegant. Why can't those Microsofties design anything right?"

The marketeers say, "Look, boys, to get people to accept it and use it, we had to make it at least somewhat backward compatible. We also had to do some inelegant stuff because of threatened and actual lawsuits. Yeah, Word has the awful bloat of far-gone featuritis, but we had to do that to get people to buy upgrades. Yeah, there are lots of bugs, but we had to do that to release as early as possible. Our products make the best compromise between engineering factors and all other factors. That's why we're number one."

Marketeers address more forces than engineers do, but many engineers don't want to hear about it. Marketeers address messy, real-world forces like the (sub-optimal?) ways that customers learn, what it takes to enlist the cooperation of distributors and retailers, the very limited bandwidth through which you can inform people about new products, and the fact that not everyone is an engineer.

Engineers could be more helpful by helping the marketeers instead of complaining that all those messy aspects of getting humans to willingly cooperate "shouldn't exist".

See also: WorseIsBetter, BugFreeDoesntSell, NetworkExternalities, TheMostComplexWhichCanBeMadeToWork.

Just because marketeers have access to the Big Picture doesn't mean they make the best choices when it comes to turning customer requests into product requirements. Quite often the customer has no clue what he needs, just what he wants.

Check out ExtremeProductsWontSell, AnalysisParalysis, YouArentGonnaNeedIt, ExtremeProjectsRequireExtremeCustomers

Yes, marketeers don't always make good marketing decisions, just as engineers don't always make good engineering decisions. However, the key point of disagreement, sometimes (foolishly) leading engineers to despise marketing, is the snobbish dismissal of the problem of getting people to use a product. Dismissing the problem leads to deploring the solutions as too tawdry, deriding the customers as too ignorant, demeaning the marketeers as too crowd-following, etc.

The funny thing is that most engineers pride themselves on their down-to-Earth pragmatism, yet EngineeringVsMarketing is pure ivory-tower snobbishness.

See SpaceSuitDesign, MultipleSkins

Contributors: BenKovitz, MartySchrader, StevenNewton, RichardKulisz; probably others who won't admit to it

EditText of this page (last edited October 1, 2003) or FindPage with title or text search