Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Engineering vs. Marketing Decision-Making Time-Horizons

I've noticed engineering and marketing groups differing sometimes over what time-horizon to be optimizing for when making a product trade-off. It comes up when engineering wants to build a low-level tool that has utility for the current and future products, call this generality. In these cases, marketing tends to be more concerned with the opposite of generality, namely specificity. Marketing just wants the tool to work well for the current product. Marketing's argument can be that it may be too early to generalize anyway, so may as well make the current product's instantiation of the tool work very well for the known case.

Sometimes a company might want to break generality for a tool because it’s particularly high value for a single product. Sometimes, though, it might want to break specificity for a single product’s application of a tool because it’s particularly high value for a multitude of future products.

I don't know what the "right" thing economical thing to do is in all these cases, but it sure would be nice to have a normative way of looking at it.

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