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Teri Maltais

In his ‘How to Differentiate Your IoT Product: Provide Insights Not Data’ article in last month’s Tech Product Management, author Daniel Elizalde shared a story that stuck with me and I wanted to share:

There’s an old joke that goes something like this: A shepherd is looking after his herd when suddenly a young man in a sports car stops by. The young man asks the shepherd, “If I can guess how many sheep you have, can I keep one of them?” The shepherd agrees. The young man starts running calculations using the latest and greatest technology. “You have 280 sheep,” he says.

The shepherd sighs and tells the young man, “If I guess what your profession is, can I get my sheep back?” The young man agrees. “You are a consultant,” he says. Surprised, the young man asks, “How did you know!” “Well, you are charging me a steep price, you are telling me something I already know, and obviously you know nothing about my business because you are taking away my dog!”

- Daniel Elizalde

I’m going to pass over the dig on consultants because we all assume that role as suppliers at some point and don’t necessarily deserve that rep; but in the article, Daniel shares his cautionary tale of developing a product without in-depth vertical knowledge.

The moral of the shepherds’ story is, “Know your customer’s industry,” Elizalde explains, “In other words, you need to have deep domain knowledge. When you become an expert in the challenges that your customer and their industry peers face, you can ask better questions and make better decisions for your product, and in turn, provide more value for your customer.”

Go ahead, read his article – it’s worth your time, particularly if you’ve ever questioned if more data is always better. 

For my part, the topic of data and insight might be an odd one for the ‘marketing’ girl. I’m usually the one in the room that raises my hand and claims ‘I’m the least technical in the room’, and while it’s not always the case, my role in marketing our technology at MMAAZZ is to interpret the technical and make it meaningful.


‘Interpret the technical and make it meaningful’
Sound familiar? Like a marketing message that needs to resonate, data also needs context and it needs to be interpreted to be meaningful.



My two cents, for what it’s worth from ‘marketing’, is that our customers in the packaging industry don’t want a marketing message that we supply insight.  They want tangible trends, insight and valuable notifications delivered in a dynamic way to seize the value we’re offering without needing to put in more work on the shop floor. Easier said than done.

Unlike many data-generating IoT companies that provide horizontal data solutions that can be leveraged across any industry, at MMAAZZ we have a relatively narrow focus and strong customer-partners that have helped us to develop deep domain knowledge on packaging line efficiencies, how impact affects glass breakage rates and the relationship between pressure and other variables that can result in scuffed packaging.

We’ve always been customer-centric. From quick sprints to weekly touchpoints, our client’s voices are the driving force in development. I say this not to pat our own backs, but rather to share the exciting news that we are about to launch a powerful solution to access our data that will be the direct result of that voice.

Not to say that the data we already provide isn’t valuable, but it can be more valuable. We can and will extract that insight.  Stay tuned for more details on our release of LIV, Line Intelligence Visualization.


So, what’s the moral of our story?
Whether it is marketing or data analytics, as suppliers to industry, the onus is on us to form these relationships with our customers and hear their voice. It’s our job to dig into their problems and figure out how to help solve them – and that’s not marketing bull.


Stay tuned for more details on our release of LIV, Line Intelligence Visualization.