Sunday, January 11, 2009

What's good for GM. . .

Let me just be clear. As a former owner of an EV1 electric car that GM subsequently took back and destroyed, I am not a fan of GM. They have made their bed.

That said, GM (along with the other US auto companies) is currently doing some PR that we can all take a lesson from. In short, because they are trying to convince Congress that their futures are worth betting on, the auto companies are currently very proactively showcasing their advanced technology. For the first time, reporters are seeing a lot of auto advancements that are upcoming in ways they have never been allowed to before.

Obviously, these are emergency measures and who knows if these guys will be proactive technology leaders when their lives don't depend on it. But, here's the lesson:

Don't wait till you are fighting for your survival to showcase your breakthroughs and leadership. It should be an integral part of your ongoing positioning strategy and will have broad benefits in the near, medium and long term.

Those of us with a heritage of working with technology start up companies know that technology is often one of the great differentiators for a young company with very tight resources. This means that initially it captures attention of customers, partners, and influencers, over the mid- and long-term it helps you move forward with customers and partners who need to look to tomorrow, and in all cases, when used right, has the potential to lower the cost of capital.

Of course, technology won't get you all the way over the line. You have to show that the technology leads to advantages that customers want. But it's a really powerful tool.

And by the way, I would contend that in this current economic environment it is MORE important today than in the past few years when "the rising tide lifted (almost) all boats".

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