The Crux

When sails gave way to steam in the early 1800s, captains asked about engineers used to grunt, "Oil and water never mix." Any engineer who overheard agreed. This was a telling way of expressing mutual reservations that both sides are still trotting out two centuries later, though with mutual smiles and hollow intentions. They have long since arrived at a successful and respectful modus vivendi.

Those in the software industry are now going through a similar experience. Let's face it, the disciplines of computer programming and marketing are different, and the temperaments involved in these disciplines don't always dovetail.

IT people (the developers) find marketing daunting, both as a concept and an activity. They perceive that marketing people always think they are running the show and have a plausible explanation for everything. They cease to be logical when it doesn't suit them. They spend money on intangible activities that could be used to buy hardware or develop vital new features. They are not always successful and what they do is most perplexing.

Marketing people find programming equally daunting: Both as a concept and an activity. Programmers always act as if they are the kingpins. They always have some catch-22 to explain everything. Whenever pressed, programmers talk in a language all their own. They spend time wrapped up in problems of their own making instead of simplifying their task and giving marketing a chance. Moreover, the IT people don't always come up with the goods. What they do is arcane.

Each side often pretends the other doesn't exist and steers a wide berth. Like the ostrich with its head firmly planted in the sand, the feet (in this case both departments) only go around in circles.

Get-nowhere postures aren't restricted to new or even small firms, but for any enterprise to take off, each side needs to get the best out of each other. It's the only way to create a prosperous business from an arid screen of zeros and ones, whether you are dealing in digits or dollars.

One of the main factors in interdepartmental strife is simple ignorance of what the other has to do, and from ignorance grows fear. This book's task is to form a bridge over the fear and link the two disciplines together, a situation that will be strengthened by success. There isn't a successful software house that hasn't somehow fused the two energies into something very strong.

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