Dear Reader

Business Development is a complex topic. In such case the questions raised are more important than potential answers. Therefore, this blog will focus on presenting questions. There will be answers, full or partial, to be supplamented by links presented when relevant. The answers from my experience will be clearer once the questions are clearer.

While this is not a discussion forum, readers are invited to comment, and the comments will help determine the topics and current issues to be explained in the future.


Friday, June 25, 2010

The Internet as a Marketing Tool - do we realy understand it?

The internet and especially the social networks in it, such as Facebook an others interest the commercial community. The use of social networks interests as a marketing tool for specified target market segments, with identified opinion leaders - the pipe dream of a marketing manager.
Consider a Facebook page of teenagers from a specific school living in a specific area demonstrating a cohesive market segment with similar socio-economic status, similar tastes and preferences and opinion leaders. By using the Facebook community and the opinion leaders, marketing of specially selected products can be done with amazing accuracy and higher efficiency than classical advertizing ever could before - a case of accelerated "word to mouth" combined with an expert opinion.
The situation mentioned above would make it seem as if this was a world of marketing managers. Acting wisely has its rewards. The social networks respond quickly, accurately and efficiently, and reaching the entire target population is fast and relatively easy. Spreading the news may be compared to a flash bulb going off - short and very bright.
But the success stories and big sales are mingled with ethical problems and even commercial problems and heavy damages. The social networks are as dangerous as they are promising success.
Nestle and Social Networks
If you want the story behind Nestle recent trouble in public relations you can find one version in the Guardian. The story is (according to CNET for example) that Nestle was attacked by Greenpeace for using oil from environmentally mismanaged plantations which resulted in the killing of orangutans. Greenpeace published a video to that effect. In an attempt to block it Nestle used its Facebook fans support page to assmbl enough support for u-tube to remove the video, under the claim that it violated copyrights. The fans were responding and some of them used modified logos of Nestle as their pictures in Facebook which the firms asked them to removed as it violated the firm's trademark rights.
That move started a negative response avalanche which the firm's responses, treating the issue as a legal problem while the fans regarded it a freedom of speech issue. According to the Guardian over 90,000 responders have signed in, most of them arguing with the firm.
The company Nestle made several mistakes, at first it supplied a stage among its supporters for Greenpeace to present its own case. Thus Nestle made sure that more people saw the video that Greenpeace could hope for. The company increased the damage the attack could do. The bigger mistake it made was of course to get into a direct, public fight in which Nestle seemed to be in the wrong with its own followers. Nestle came out from both claims as an anti free speech organization, inflexible and unfriendly.
It is easy to analyze the mistake in hindsight, but where did the firm actually go wrong?
It would seem that if 15 years ago a video was being aired (TV, Video, cinema etc.) and it approached the authorities with the claim that it infringed copyrights, it would probably have succeeded, and be held a serious firm standing for its rights. If at the time it found out that people were using the modified fir logo on stationary it would probably also find support for requesting that this be stopped. But we are in a new and different place today. In the world of social networks the rules are different, everything you say is seen by the whole world (potentially) and therefore must be reasonable or at least explained. Moreover, the world of social networks on the internet, does not like censorship of any kind, and is different than the business world. Nestle could have announced a contest regarding its logo to present the firms new commitment to the environment and harnessed the social networks public's creativity to its benefit, generate positive feeling towards the firm and move the focus away from the film. After all if no one is fighting the internet audiences move their attention to other topics. At least it would have forced Greenpeace to produce something new and work to earn the attention they wanted - not do their work for them.
What can be done?
One option of course is to ignore the social networks, but that option would leave the field to the competition which would be a big mistake. Could result in the firm ignoring the social networks, loosing huge market shares. Another option, which many firms seem to select as their course of action, is to enter the world of social networks, while assuming that it is similar to the world they know, only with a faster technology and better results. As the Nestle case shows this would be just as huge a mistake. Another option, requiring a lot of work, would be to enter the world of social networks on the internet, while learning the rules of the new world, employing people who understand it to operate the activity for the firm. One must bear in mind that this is not just a new technology this is a world with new rules.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Business Development and Clean Tech

Business Development and Clean-Tech would at first look seem to be just as relevant As Business Development and Communications for example. But it seems that those dealing with Business Development, the Clean Tech sector holds a special interest.

The drive towards more and more awareness regarding environmental issues has increased the interest of firms in Clean-Technologies. Whether these are technologies for better energy management and decreased usage of energy sources, recycling, usage of less waste producing manufacturing, the production of renewable energies and more, firms in different sectors have been looking at these technologies.
In many cases firms, after being pushed into a first look due to market pressure, that is, in order to better sell their products, or maintain their market share, get acknowledged as "Green" etc., realize that the Clean-Tech they were looking into, could directy influence their cost structure and help theri profitability.
While we will not discuss here how exactly each firm may benefit from absrbing environmentaly friendly technologies, the search and increased interest has led to widespread activity in the field. From the point of view of the technology or knowledge providers, the issue of technology transfer and Business Development in that sector are important parameters.
While there is an article of mine soon to be published ( a link will be provided from my site at: www. on the topic, here I would like to present some points for your onsideration:
  1. Is the Clean-Tech really one sector? Are the developers of water treatment infrastructure size plants in the same market, as the developers of home water filtration systems?

  2. If we are dealing with different secors, how would that influence the parameters of Business development and Technology Tranfer?

  3. Regarding the role of the IP managers in firms, and Technology Transfer officers in research organizations, how would these roles change as a result of the activity in the Clean-Tech sector?

  4. Which would be the best way for governments to encourage activities in Clean-Tech based on the above?

In order to demonstrate the level of importance that discussion has receeved and to give preliminary answers to the questions above please see the films in the links below, recently published on the web by the European Patent Office (EPO). some of the recent films were fillmed during an internal conference on the topic held recently.


Amiram Porath

Links for this post:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

By writing this blog I intend to express my opinions, research results and general ideas regarding business development, business opportunities and innovation. the blog is not intended to serve as a scientific publication, but rather as a practitioners' basic discussion platform.
My main occupation is innovation and especially Open Innovation. The term Open Innovation relates to innovation that comes to the firm from outside; from other firms, research organizations, consultants and others. That is in contrast to internal innovation which stems from within the firm.
While Israel may appear as a good source for best practices in innovation, as it is important to remember that Israel is very different in its industrial sectors structure than EU member states. When referring to and SME in Israel one would normally refer to a high-tech company, a start-up company. In which case the size and performance would relate to its life length and success. In the EU as there are far more traditional sector SMEs than high-tech SMEs, the same assumption as in Israel cannot be made.
Based on the assumption that SMEs are start-up companies, the Israeli system of innovation was based on assuming that the SMEs perform research and need only be supported. It assumes that the SMEs know an want to manage R&D and need the parters or financial support.
Therefore the tools developed in Israel cannot be coppied as such to other countries such as the EU member states that see SMEs as mostly traditional sector firms, which have no idea how to manage R&D and how to introduce its results to their internal routines.
Last week a mission from Finland of high-tech firms visited Israel. They came to see the Israeli model meet firms here and make contacts and search for partnerships.
How can the model be coppied?
We may deal with that next post. In the meantime have a look at the links......