Open source made me a better marketer: says Daniel Ng, ExCo at Smart Cities Network

Daniel Ng is a trusted advisor to organizations like Singapore Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI), MAD Academy and OpenGov Asia; and was mentor to Singapore Management University (SMU).

Daniel Ng, ExCo at Smart Cities Network

In the recent past, he has led companies like IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, and most recently Cloudera in various capacities. Sangram Aglave, Contributing Editor, BW Businessworld caught up with Daniel Ng in his biographical best. The following are the edited excerpts from the interview

1. What is marketing and what it is not?

Daniel Ng: Marketing is not about the ‘What’ but is all about the Why’. The most important question in Marketing is “Why should we do marketing?” It’s all about having the end-in-mind. It’s a continuous conversation. Marketing has always depended on data and that remains constant even today. Being data driven is about culture and is clearly more than a conversation around digital technology. Marketing should not be just about annual and quarterly planning and budgeting. Marketing is a continuous conversation and should not be heavily governed by financial quarters. And I would say try to be more than a ‘checklist marketer’.

2. How to develop marketing ideas and strategy?

Daniel Ng: It cannot be a one person’s idea. It must be teamwork and alignment across all go-to-market functions. The Go-To-Market strategy can be a blend of three mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive types, and which are one-on-one, one-to-many and many-to-many. Everything in Marketing should have a spray paint effect. Amplification and reach should drive the strategy. Personally, the psychological truth of 5 A’s is what guides my contributions to the go-to-market strategy. Those are Awareness, Acknowledgement, Acceptance, Amendments and Advance. I place awareness and care above fear and uncertainty.

3. How important is it to supplement data along with the marketing idea?

Daniel Ng: Very important. And that’s why we call it data driven marketing. This is applicable not just in India but across APAC and the rest of the world.

4. Your marketing experience spans across three decades. What makes a good marketer according to you?

Daniel Ng: A good marketer should understand the ‘Business of marketing’. A good marketer is a businessman disguised as a marketer. Marketing is all about business. Marketer’s should understand the value equation. A good marketer will strive to learn the exact mechanics of value generation and be as close to understanding the value driving the business. The five A’s mentioned above help the marketer in getting the context right.

5. You have been in the open source market since it’s early days. What made you switch over in the first place and continue for over a decade?

Daniel Ng: I joined Red Hat, a purely open source software company in 2007 which were still the early days of open source. Before that I was with Microsoft where I developed a good understanding of proprietary software distribution channels. I struggled for the first three weeks at Red Hat to understand why someone would let go off their software for free when the most precious thing at Microsoft was the software. I have my personal objective to always join a company that creates a market and not just addresses a market. I rehashed the marketing function at Red Hat in my 6 years there and in process have seen how ‘open source’ can change cultural mindsets and bring in change.

6. What is the outlook for open source in India?

Daniel Ng: Open source is all about how people work together. More eyes and less bugs make open source good. Open source is all about sharing and sharing is an integral part of India. We in the Asia Pacific region share a common culture of sharing and are taught about it from a young age. That is also what open source software is.

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Opensource Daniel Ng ibm microsoft red hat cloudera


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