Category Archives: Blog

New role at CSIT: The second 30 days in the 30-60-90 plan

Chips with that?

Last month I blogged about the 30/60/90 plan covering the first 30 days of the initial three months in my new Technical Marketing Manager role at The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT).  This was based on some interesting guidance posted by Ninon LaForce on the On Product Management blog.

In this post I shall look back at the second 30 days.  Personally speaking its useful for me as I slot into the organisations appraisal system to reflect on what I have achieved thus far in the role.

Day 31-60: Take ownership

According the Ninon, days 31-60 in a new PM role is all about taking ownership. As with my previous post, before getting into the points specified in the original post, here are a few thoughts on this period.

This period began with exhibiting at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.  I blogged my thoughts on the Congress here. While this took me out of the office for a whole week it was a useful learning exercise personally and an opportunity to test what we as an organisation are doing in the marketplace.  It certainly helped me achieve some of the points outlined below including networking and building relationships with existing and potential partners and customers.

Uncovering new opportunities for the application of our research as well as helping me get up to speed pretty quickly on the commercial environment in the mobile space was invaluable not to mention the process of developing our messaging around this massive market pretty early into my tenure.

Two weeks after returning from Barcelona we hosted Belfast 2012: The 2nd World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit at CSIT.  Preparations for this were pretty consuming.  Again the process of prepping for and hosting this event were priceless in terms of building relationships, setting our commercial and research roadmap as well as firming up my thoughts around strategic direction.

Scorecard

Now lets look at how I think I performed against the list:

Meet with my manager for a first 30-day review. Ensure I am focusing on the right activities and adjust as necessary.

Partially done.  We meet weekly and continue to chat most days regarding ongoing activities.  We plan to sit down to formally appraise my performance over the first 2 months next week.  It should have happened last week but more important priorities meant this had to be pushed out.

Take ownership of some projects.

Done.  I am currently working on a number of projects which have short and medium term delivery dates.  There are no shortage of projects.

Contribute my thoughts/ideas on how to streamline industry partners and programs.

Done; ongoing.  These get discussed each week as part of our commercial team meeting.

Make a list of activities/project that will contribute to meeting the department objectives and set up a plan to reach the goals.

Partially done. See earlier comments.

Go to lots of meetings and begin to run some of them.

Done.  I already chair a monthly marketing meeting with marketing representatives from the various research clusters feeding into that.  I also attend several organisational weekly meetings.

Continue to build relationships.

Done.  Mobile World Congress and The Cyber Summit were excellent for doing this.  I also continue to meet with colleagues from across CSIT as often as I can to build up a funnel of content for our websites and for raising our profile globally.

Begin to write materials (drafts)

Done.  I am in the process of refreshing our web estate which necessitates writing new and rewriting old contents.  I have also been updating marketing collateral, drafting funding proposals and producing press releases.

Continue to learn and read as much as possible.

Done.  The role is such that I will never stop learning and reading.  It’s par for the course.

By this time I hope to have uncovered some promising unexploited opportunities for growth and have begun to figure out how to exploit them.

Done.  I’ll keep them under my hat for now. ;-)

So I make that seven out of nine achieved and a further two partially achieved.  Not a bad result given the events that took place this month.

Update: I almost forgot to mention that during all this I took time out to guest on The Tech Show, a podcast in eamonmallie.com’s Tech section focused on the technology scene in Northern Ireland presented by Chris Taylor and Matt Johnston.  On the show I talk about cyber-security and an exhibitors perspective of Mobile World Congress.

What is a Technical Marketing Manager?

I started this morning writing a long post about my second 30 days in my new Technical Marketing Manager (TMM) post with The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT).  I found myself explaining how a TMM is similar to a Product Manager (PM).  It probably deserves a post of its own.  So here it is.

Some of you might be wondering why I take advice from a product management blog (On Product Management) when my job title is Technical Marketing Manager.  So what does a Technical Marketing Manager do?

In a sentence I see it as taking overall responsibility for marketing the product of a hugely technical organisation; something that is much more than the 4 P’s.

I see my current role as sitting on a spectrum of similar roles spanning from Technical Product Manager, Solution Specialist, Product Manager, through to Analyst, Product Marketing Manager and finally Technical Marketing Manger.  I’m probably a much better communicator than technologist, therefore the marketing aspect just feels like a better fit.

Ultimately all varieties of PM need most or all of the following skills:

  • Just doing it
  • Domain experience
  • Communication skills
  • Decision making ability
  • Environment scanning
  • Business understanding
  • Technical experience
  • Negotiation (both internally and externally)
  • Selling
  • Networking (of the human variety, not 802.x)
The list isn’t exhaustive but I reckon I use all of those every day.

Hat tip to onpm again for the skills list.  I’ve added a few of my own.

Thoughts on Mobile Word Congress 2012; Why you should be there #mwc12

The CSIT booth at MWC 12

I returned from Barcelona on Friday after a week of lead generation, market positioning research and generally being a booth bloke at Mobile World Congress for my employer The Centre for Secure Information Technology (CSIT), an innovation and knowledge centre specialising in cyber security research based at Queen’s University of Belfast.  I have spent the weekend mulling over the experience and trying to distill a few thoughts regarding the Congress which I share here.

There’s no austerity or lack of confidence in mobile industry

The GSMAs event attendance figures speak for themselves.  67,000 visitors from 205 countries.  The number of attendees was up 11% on last year.  Business is not just as usual, it’s booming.  It is ten years since I was last at MWC with Jinny Software when it was in Cannes.  The growth in that decade has been phenomenal.

The level of investment in stands and presence by exhibitors both large and small exuded a level of confidence in the future of the economy currently not shared by many across this continent.  I have no doubt that the level of investment here will be followed by growth in consumer confidence and spending in the coming years.

Mobile security is gonna be massive next year

This is the first time we at CSIT have exhibited at the event though all three of our commercial team have represented previous employers at it.  While we had a number of pre-arranged meetings lined up beforehand this for us was about dipping the toe in the water of the mobile space and see what turned up.

With limited marketing activity prior to and during the event we were simply astounded by the numbers and calibre of companies and organisations who sought us out at the event based on our “Breakthrough technologies for mobile security” pitch to speak to us about our research into things like Physical Uncloneable Function, ITACA, Intrusion Prevention and SCA.  Our activity there was very targeted - sponsoring the Network Intelligence Alliance networking evening where we could engage with prospective partners and customers away from the hustle and bustle of the halls. This was a great opportunity to raise our profile in a niche area were we can add most value.

Mobile security will be a huge market.  If you are working in this area speak to us.

Its about so much more than mobile

If you are building solutions that communicate over IP protocols you are now a mobile company – you should be at next years Congress.  No excuses.  With the phenomenal growth in smartphones and the advent of FTE, Wimax and other wireless data standards if you are involved in any sort of solution that communicates data you need to be there if only to unearth opportunities which may not be entirely obvious if you only think of it as a mobile trade show.

In the last week we spoke to companies about opportunities in utilities, banking, transportation, satellite communications, fixed line operators, government and more.

It doesn’t cost the earth

We exhibited on the Northern Ireland pavilion with a number of other local companies.  The Invest Northern Ireland team did an excellent job in supporting us before and during the week.  It’s the perfect mechanism for getting a low(er) cost presence at the event.  Speak to them about going next year.  You can’t afford not to be there.

A little shot of PUF; Mobile World Congress 2012 #mwc12

Shot glass - Just like any other?

As I sit here on the Dublin to Barcelona flight I am thinking about the research we are demoing this week.  I’m a simple guy and I’m a sucker for a good story. In my recent round of induction chats one of my new colleagues at CSIT explained the genesis of the concept behind Physical Unclonable Function technology – one of the research areas we will be showcasing at Mobile World Congress.

It goes something like this. A bunch of researchers working on preventing smart cards being cloned are out at a bar one night. The mood is good and the craic is ninety.  They start drinking shots.  As the rounds go on the shot glasses are stacked up one on top of the other.

In theory the glasses are the same, designed and manufactured to be uniform in size and shape. In theory they should stack vertically in a straight line.  But they don’t. The glasses veer off at different angles like mini leaning towers of Pisa.

Even with the precision of a modern production line imperfections have crept into the manufacturing process. The glass has minor inconsistencies. The tooling on the machinery has varying tolerances. The result is that each glass has a unique fingerprint. Eureka!

Digital fingerprint

An so it is with smart cards and integrated circuits. They are developed with unbelievable precision at the nano-metre level. Even so, each chip is as unique as a fingerprint. The data they store may be cloned, but develop routines and algorithms around the variances of manufacture and its electronic signature which is as unique as a fingerprint and you are onto an unclonable technology that fits on a circuit the size of a piece of grit with a multitude of secure applications in RFID, NFC, contactless payments and mobile wallets.  That’s just a little of what we do at CSIT.

Is the story true? I don’t know, it may be a myth but it sure helped me grasp the concept of PUF. I’ll drink to that.

You can find out more about PUF in our capability brief here or chat to us at MWC in Hall 1 on the Northern Ireland Stand at location 1E38.

New role: The 30-60-90 plan – The first 30 days

CSIT logo

The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT)

Prior to starting my new role recently as Technical Marketing Manager at Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) I tweeted a link to a guest post titled “A 90-day Plan for New Product Managers” by Ninon LaForce writing on one of my favourite blogs: On Product Management.  The post struck a cord with me as I had recently accepted an offer to join CSIT in a role not dissimilar to a Product/Product Marketing Manager.  I was interested in how I could apply the plan and stick to it.

As I approach my first 30 days at CSIT it is timely to review how the first third of the 30-60-90 plan has went.  I thought a retrospective look at my first month there was in order.  It also gives me a great reason to get my blogging boots on again following an extended break.

Before the Start Date

In her post Ninon suggests some tasks to carry out prior to starting to ensure you hit the ground running:

Obtain all relevant information I can find to get up to speed on what is happening with the organization (e.g. annual reports, website, press releases, internal contacts if I have them). Also get a good understanding of what is happening in the industry.

I had done a fair amount of this anyway both in terms of pre-application due diligence to determine personal fit with the role and in the run up to interview.  Notwithstanding, once I was offered and accepted the post I continued to read up and quiz industry contacts on CSIT.  I made a point of meeting with my new boss and another new work colleague to learn more and lay some foundations before my first day.  The more I learned the more I looked forward to starting.

Day 1-30: Learn my way around and get to know the team

I’ll look at Ninon’s advice for the first 30 days in a moment but first some of my own thoughts on this important period.  Having worked in a number of roles over the past 12 years I see the first 30 days as a time to understand the organisation, its culture, history, processes, personalities and what makes it tick.  Its also about housekeeping, administration, inductions and form filling.

The first 30 days can make or break the perception you have of a new employer.  Both the new employer and employee need to be prepared for it to work.

Now let’s see how I have managed against what I had hoped to do with reference to Ninon’s eleven points for the first month:

Meet with my manager to identify top priorities for my department and what is expected of me. Set up a time for weekly status meetings.

Done.  My manager, Stephen Wray, has been excellent in this regard with short, medium and long term priorities set.  Weekly meetings have been arranged and we usually find time to chat on an ad-hoc basis most days.

Meet with each member of my team to learn their role, challenges and opportunities. Find out what they expect of me and how I can help them.

Done.  I don’t have any direct reports so this one has been easy. :-)

Meet with as many top influencers as possible and ask them valuable suggestions about my role and about navigating the organization.

Done.  My first two weeks had a meticulously planned series of induction meetings with everyone from the Director of ECIT Prof. John McCanny and operational colleagues through to the various Directors of Research of each of the research clusters, Engineering Managers, Research Fellows, PhDs and last but not least Spin-in company staff.  Every single meeting without fail was exceptional.  Everyone was welcoming.  Everyone blew my mind with the breadth and depth of research carried out at CSIT and reinforced in my own mind what a brilliant opportunity I had been given to come and work with them all.

Learn the corporate systems, the internal workings of the company and read the company policies and procedures.

Done.  I made a point of seeking out those systems and policies in particular that I would need to know and use regularly.

Attend any orientation or training offered.

Done.

Review the list of existing partners and study what is known about them, how they have been performing, etc.

Done.  This has been helped by having to get involved straight away with organising Belfast 2012: 2nd World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit at CSIT and The ECIT SPACE Summit. More on those in later blog posts.

Subscribe to industry online news, thought leadership, and any other industry online resources.

Done.  These include SC Magazine, Info Security Magazine etc. I’m also swotting up on my Wired Magazine collection.  I want CSITs research featured in there.

Go to lots of meetings and offer to help on small initiatives.

Done.

Read as much as possible and study to continue to improve industry and product knowledge.

Done.  I’m reading as much as I can, mainly in the evenings as the day time has increasingly focused on preparing for Mobile World Congress among other things.

Draw up the logical value chain (ecosystem) for the industry and find out as much as possible about each value step and how the organization adds value (or could add value).

Could do better.  Still trying to get my head round this one.  Well, I am allowed one! :-)

Listen and take lots of notes.

Done.  I even went all hipster and bought a new bright red Moleskine.
10 out of a possible 11 isn’t bad.  The challenge is to sustain this over the coming weeks ahead when I will be attending two trade fairs as well as hosting a summit back in Belfast.  It won’t stop me trying though.  I have been loving every minute. :-)