How to improve techno-business

How can you help improve your technology-interdependent business? These bits of advice, taken from a session at this fall's Sensors Expo & Conference entitled "The Sensor Industry: State of the Business," can benefit anyone using, selling or integrating any automation, controls, and instrumentation.

11/01/2003


How can you help improve your technology-interdependent business?

  • Make a realistic plan to satisfy stakeholders, communicate progress, and move products out the door;

  • Choose your customers in line with areas of expertise; and

  • Design the product package along with technology inside.

These bits of advice, taken from a session at this fall's Sensors Expo & Conference entitled "The Sensor Industry: State of the Business," can benefit anyone using, selling or integrating any automation, controls, and instrumentation.

"The rules are simple and easily learned; there is an easy and hard way" to do business in technology markets, suggests Roger Grace, president of the Micro and Nanotechnology Commercialization Education Foundation. Money for expansion always is available to firms with a strong plan, he says. Sources include venture capital, "angel investors," friends and family, customers, private placements, and investment banks. Technology, research, and development are all wonderful, but selling products pays the bills. One model might be to deliver a 60/40 mix of 18-month/36-month payback initiatives, clearly communicating progress with investors along the way. Grace, also president of Roger Grace Associates, says many technology-oriented companies need help to market more effectively.

Not every sale is a good one. It's important to say "no" to customers when a request for proposal isn't a good fit, says Joe Brown, a manager at Suss MicroTec. For instance, Brown knows of a manufacturer that sold primarily high-accuracy, high-cost, low-volume sensors. One proposal sought low-cost products at high volume, a 180-degree reversal with the company's past product lifecycle and manufacturing know-how. Such a switch requires investments and changes; it may be better to seek business closer to current expertise and experience.

Part of that can mean choosing customers in line with product-package design capabilities. The package around sensing technology can account for 80% of overall cost, says Steve Nasiri, president of InvenSense, Saratoga, CA. Radical post-design changes eat away margins. It's increasingly important to integrate sensing technology, signal conditioning, and wireless communications to lower cost of customer implementation, Grace adds. Creating alliances and joint ventures with market-share leaders also helps.

For more tips on markets, margins, alliances, and links to other advice from the Sensors Expo & Conference, read this column online, November 2003, at www.controleng.com/issues .

Think otherwise? Have better advice to share? Let me know at the email below.

MHoske@cfemedia.com


Online Extra for‘Think Again: How to improve techno-business’

Related links

See a related item in the Control Engineering's Discrete Control Monthly for October 16, 2003
Sensor experts advise technology-reliant companies

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