by | Rozita Shamsuddin
Marketing hi-tech technologies and industries is never easy, and marketing OTEC technologies and industry needs a gigantic effort.
Regis McKenna, a well-known consultant and author in the areas of technology and marketing, states that high-tech industries are characterized by complex products, large numbers of entrepreneurial competitors, customer confusion and rapid changes. McKenna and William Davidow are considered pioneers in this area as they made a name for themselves in Silicon Valley. McKenna addresses the aspects of communication while Davidow takes a more comprehensive look at the topic of high-tech marketing. Shanklin and Ryans, in a Harvard Business Review article stated that key high-tech characteristics include a strong scientific/technical basis. However, they also point out that the new technology can turn obsolete and become old technology rapidly as new technologies come on stream and their applications create or revolutionize demand.
According to an influential 1989 article by Moriarty/Kosnik of the Harvard Business School, the first discussions on the possibility of high-tech marketing began at the end of the 1970s. They remarked that the fast-paced global hightech industry is not without its own distinct and complex challenges. Every player in the industry is striving to gain and maintain competitive differentiation by adopting new approaches or by realizing latent sources of success in existing operations. Even the best innovation in the world is meaningless without customers.
Marketing is the area most cited by technology intensive companies as being neglected. According to market researchers, many of the problems faced by new technology companies are marketing related. These problems include lack of corporate identity, lack of marketing expertise; poor customer relations, difficulty in gaining channels of distribution, lack of international contacts and inability to reach target markets.
What are the target markets for OTEC, specifically in Malaysia? The future is hard to predict, risky and has its own physiognomies. There are a variety of characteristics that describe the high-tech market (assuming otherwise heterogeneous conditions), and the OTEC industry is no exception. This includes the high level of uncertainty with the seller and the customer, as well as product complexity. According to high-tech marketing researchers, complexity is often seen as an additional high-tech characteristic. Complexity in penetrating the market and reaching its customer needs a strategy. Strategic marketing is derived from strategic management. The father of management, Peter Drucker, began with the question “What account for superior results?” And then came up with the answer: outputs – management and markets of success.
Successful marketing in high-tech industries like OTEC means that firms must find their own distinct marketing and technological areas of competence and use these strengths to establish a position in the market. In order to do this, a consistent strategic thrust is essential. Despite the turbulence which characterizes such markets, a constant presence is the only way to ensure a relatively stable and significant profile. Although strategic planning forms an indispensable first stage in the marketing process, the specific implementation largely determines the ultimate success.
Malaysia is blessed with the opportunity to explore the hydrogen generation market via OTEC; supply of power, either electricity or hydrogen fuel, as a competitive energy carrier. The Sabah trough in East Malaysia is identified as geographically fit for the generation of electricity from its deep ocean. In its embryonic stage, Malaysia is ready to take off the emerging technologies by advancing in technology for sighting. Foresight activities of any kind imply a future orientation of the participating entities and attempt to successfully deal with change. Foresighting OTEC’s market for Malaysia posits a clear value for the practice. One of the productions of OTEC system is the generation of hydrogen fuel cells. The report, ‘Hydrogen Generation Market by Geography, by mode of Generation & Delivery, by applications and by Technology – Global Trends & Forecasts to 2019’, defines and segments the global hydrogen generation market with an analysis and forecast of revenues. The hydrogen generation market will grow from an estimated $103.5 billion in 2014 to $138.2 billion by 2019, with a CAGR of 5.9%. The huge market can only be tapped by adopting the best practices that expand its orientations in high-tech marketing holistically.
Appropriate strategic conception is thus a necessity. Attention should also be drawn to the significant temporal element and dynamic uncertainty which pervades high-tech markets and frequently overrides the familiar conventional ordering of strategic analysis, planning and implementation. In other words, what makes dealing with all this so complex is that in practice, effective strategies do not unfold in a comfortable and conventional pattern, but rather in a heuristic process based on the viability and feasibility within a framework of a given market and competitive circumstances.
UTM-OTEC is embarking into the heuristic process in all aspects of OTEC technological innovation by integrating key activities into the strategic management process. One of the key emphasis in its strategic marketing development is to immerse everyone into the OTEC notion. A new wave of technology in Malaysia is making its entry for the benefit of future global society.
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2. A Bakar Jaafar (2012). “Conversion of Ocean Thermal Energy to Electric Power and Hydrogen Fuel, The University of Newcastle Newsletter, May Issue 20, page 3.
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