The Kula Ring

Episode 91 How Customer Collaboration Informs B2B Marketing

The Kula Ring podcast is essential listening for manufacturing marketers who want to grow their digital presence and compete online.

Sponsored by Kula Partners—an agency committed to helping leading B2B manufacturers craft digital experiences that transform how they engage buyers, serve customers, and outpace their competition—The Kula Ring podcast features conversations about marketing, sales, and technology with top manufacturing executives from across North America.

The Kula Ring podcast is co-hosted by Kula Partners principals, Carman Pirie and Jeff W. White, both of whom are frequently sought after for their digitally-focused B2B expertise. They regularly share their insights with audiences including conferences like B2B Online and HubSpot’s INBOUND, the Gardner Manufacturing Marketer blog, and other podcasts focused on B2B marketing and technology.

Digital marketing enables manufacturers to fine-tune their tactics down to their best-fit accounts, but it can also create a false expectation that each marketing engagement can provide a guaranteed ROI. In this episode of The Kula Ring, Ahsan Javed, manufacturing marketer veteran, talks about his customer collaboration framework and how his background in engineering and marketing guides his iterative approach to co-creating products and solutions.

How Customer Collaboration Informs B2B Marketing Transcript:

Announcer: You’re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White. 

Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring, a podcast for manufacturing marketers brought to you by Kula Partners. My name is Jeff White and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, what’s shaking, man? 

Carman Pirie: Look, it’s not too much. I guess we’re just here recording a podcast on, what is it, the 874th day of 2020? 

Jeff White: Yes. Fervemberneveruary. Yeah, it just goes on and on. 

Carman Pirie: Indeed, it does. Indeed, it does. It may go on and on, but this episode will probably only last 25 to 30 minutes, our listeners should know. 

Jeff White: Probably so. Yeah. Yeah. That’s the common format, anyway, so we have to adhere to it. So, I’m excited to have a veteran of manufacturing marketing from a number of different fields on the show today, and I think he’s got a lot to teach us and a lot to tell us about customer collaboration and other things like that. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, I agree. Let’s just get into it. Make the most of our 25 to 30 minutes. 

Jeff White: Absolutely, so joining us today is Ahsan Javed. Ahsan has, as I was saying, 20 years of experience working in the semiconductor industry, healthcare, and aerospace and defense among others, and we’re really glad to have you on the show. Welcome to the show, Ahsan. 

Ahsan Javed: Yeah, thanks a lot, Jeff and Carman. Really happy to be here and meet you guys remotely, and excited to participate in your podcast. 

Carman Pirie: It’s great to have you on the show, and thank you for joining us from the lovely, sunny destination of Chicago. 

Ahsan Javed: I wish I could say it’s sunny right now. We’re going through some summer thunderstorms, but yeah, it’s nice. I won’t complain, because the summer here lasts only about three to four months. 

Carman Pirie: I gotta say, the most time I’ve spent in Chicago has generally been in June, and it’s always treated me well, so it’s warm for a Canadian-

Ahsan Javed: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yep. 

Carman Pirie: But good to be chatting. Ahsan, look, one of the things, as we talked about this episode and bringing you on the show, we talked a lot about your approach to customer collaboration, and to be candid, you hear from an awful lot of marketers that it’s a great thing to listen to customers and collaborate with them, and then often when you get to the “then what?”, or the almost like, “Well, tell me more about that and how you do it,” you find that often there’s not that much meat on the bones. So, I’m hoping that we can put more meat on it today. So, I guess let’s start with getting a little bit of a background about you and maybe tell our listeners a bit more about you, and then let’s dive into this customer collaboration and your approach to it. 

Ahsan Javed: Thanks, Carman. So, I find that largely the disciplines around customer collaboration stay the same regardless of what industry or frankly geographic location worldwide that you’re participating in. I’ve done business in Europe, and in Asia, as well as domestically here, and largely I find that the framework for collaborations stay the same. But before we get into that, I started my career as an electrical engineer. I have a master’s in electrical engineering and worked as an engineer at Motorola back in the heyday. And I was on the semiconductor side doing automotive semiconductors, if you will, and doing product engineering for those, and very quickly realized my passion was still around technology, but I really enjoyed the marketing aspect of things and putting together a strategy and a business case, and being able to articulate that with a customer. 

So, after I got my MBA, moved into the business development side of things, served as a product manager in various roles at an analog mixed-signal company called Silicon Labs in Austin, Texas, and then moved up to Chicago, where I pivoted pretty hard away from pure-play semiconductors to acoustic products. I was leading marketing and product management for a company called Knowles Electronics that did transducers for hearing aids and smartphones. And then after about six and a half years there, most recently I was working for a specialty custom battery company that did custom battery solutions for aerospace defense and medical products. Also very different than before, but ultimately the way that you go about developing I’d say a collaboration framework, both internally and externally, I think stays largely the same regardless of industry and technology at the end of the day. 

Carman Pirie: Well, let’s dive into that further. I’d like to understand the collaboration framework model that you speak of and begin to understand what it looks like. 

Ahsan Javed: Yeah, sure. I guess first you’d start definitionally, like what does collaboration actually mean? And one of my favorite definitions of it is the facilitation of an open-minded thinking and co-creation. And every one of those sentences, every word in that sentence is I think meaningful, where you’re really trying to facilitate or help guide a conversation with your customer, a productive conversation with your customer, and you are trying to unlock the goodness, if you will, and do something together with them. Ultimately, customers are trying to develop a better product, a better solution, and typically you have to, as a component supplier, have to provide them with something that ultimately gives them a better benefit for their end product. 

Being able to really facilitate that, I think there’s a number of different frameworks for doing this, but in my mind, there’s really three steps. One is being able to solve a burning problem in the market. Second is, and I’ll go into these in a little detail, second is to actually go to the market and communicate. And then third is just be relentless about seeking feedback and iterating on your products. 

To the first point, solving the burning problem, a lot of the time as engineers and as a former engineer, you really want to develop technology for technology’s sake. Everyone wants to work on the latest, greatest technology. But really, that’s not what the end goal here is for a customer, right? You need the widget to solve a customer need, and frankly, customers are looking for you to exhibit some thought leadership and insight into the market. We often claim that as a supplier to a bigger company, that they have all of the answers, and they have the thought leadership, but as a component supplier, I think you can really exhibit some thought leadership and put yourself out there and take a risk and a chance on developing some market insights. Identify what you see going on in the market. Develop a roadmap and put together some features and benefits, so that you are genuinely solving a burning problem that the customer has, and I’ll talk about some examples of that a little bit later. 

Carman Pirie: Before we move on from this point, I’d be curious, because when we started you mentioned the notion of the power of collaboration is the co-creative nature of it. And in some ways, what that tells me is that there’s an emergent pattern and that some of the work is more about holding the container or space for that to happen than it is about being prescriptive about the outcome. 

Ahsan Javed: Yep. 

Carman Pirie: How do you balance that with the requirement in the early days of your framework, particularly to almost be coming to the table with the solution? I guess how do you balance that, the extent to which you’re being prescriptive, with a solution, with a product you’re bringing to market, versus the extent to which you’re actually looking to co-create the solution? 

Ahsan Javed: Yeah, I think the difference is you’re not co-creating the solution, or you’re not being prescriptive about creating the solution. You’re creating a solution. If you hand stuff over to pure-play engineering, they will come to you with what I like to describe as kind of the Cheesecake Factory of capabilities and say, “Mr. Customer, here’s all my capabilities. Do you want to have the Oreo cheesecake with jalapeno poppers, or the Bang-Bang chicken and shrimp and something else?” You leave it up to the customer to decide, and that’s not really showing any kind of forethought. You’re selling a list of capabilities. You’re not necessarily putting yourself out there and saying, “Here’s a product.” Or, “Here’s a solution.” 

And I think the key is that you can’t be afraid to be wrong, and that’s really where the power of it comes in, is that when you’re sitting in front of a blank piece of paper and there’s nothing on the paper except for a list of capabilities, it’s very difficult to provide any feedback. As opposed to if I have a solution on there, and we all kind of sit around the table and fire shots at it, and tweak it, and move it in a different direction, or say, “What if we did this?” Or, “What if we did that?” I think that’s where the magic really occurs. The way I think about it is you must be willing to plant a flag on the beach and all fire bullets at it, and through that, the idea generates some momentum of its own, and that’s where the co-creation comes in, is that you’re not presenting the customer with capabilities. You’re presenting them with some market insight and where you think the market could go. Customers are much more willing to provide feedback to you kind of putting your neck out there and delivering a roadmap, as opposed to again, just having a list of capabilities: here’s all the things I could do, rather than here’s the things I want to do. 

Jeff White: I think there’s a lot of learning in that. I mean, the humility that’s required in order to put out an idea, but then be willing to be not just wrong, but be willing to accept other ideas, and critique, and all that. I mean, design thinking is largely what you’re describing. 

Ahsan Javed: Yeah, and it’s unnerving, right? It’s unnerving to put something out there that frankly, you know will likely be wrong. And I think a lot of people think that’ll have a negative outcome, but in all of my experience, it’s actually had an exceedingly positive outcome. I think there are embers in what you put out there in your roadmap that sparks ideas within the customer’s mind. Whereas if you have just a menu list of options, there’s nothing tangible there to kind of sink your teeth into. 

I think it’s really about taking that risk and saying, “Here’s what I divine about the market, based on my insight and my understanding. Do you think this is right? Would you rather take this in this other direction?” And I’ve really found, genuinely found across my career, that that kind of thinking really does create some magic when it comes to customer collaboration. 

Jeff White: I think one of the things I really love about that is that the customers are obviously going to be invested, and interested, and enjoy that kind of process, but have you found internally with the organizations that you worked with that that may have been a bit scarier to those people? Were they having to check their egos at the door a little bit more and be more open to having their ideas reworked and shot down and critiqued?

Ahsan Javed: Yeah, I think there are always points of resistance in this, particularly if you’re going into a new business and trying to kind of change the paradigm. So, there’s always been resistance around, “Look, we should just take the customer’s requirements and execute from there.” Rather than try to come up with something on our own, or exactly as you said, “I don’t want to necessarily put something out there that they’ll potentially leak to our competitors.” Or, “I don’t want to be wrong in front of my customer.” There are any number of feedback items that I’ve received from internal resistance to go after this approach. But ultimately, I found that it drives the customer to view you more as a strategic partner, rather than just a component supplier, and I know that might come across as a little bit cliché, but I think therein lies the difference, is that you are willing to take a chance, and take a risk, and say, “Here are the things I think I should be working on. Do you agree that I should be working on these?” 

And it drives really constructive conversation, and I think even internally, it enriches the relationship that you have with your customer, engineer to engineer. 

Carman Pirie: I wonder to what extent your background as an engineer has informed this thinking, really. I mean, as you just said that, it struck me that that could be the secret sauce that led you to this in the first place. 

Ahsan Javed: Yeah. I mean, I do think some of it stems from there, kind of being close to the silicon, if you will, close to the technology. Understanding how much time it takes to develop something and the discipline behind it, and how much effort and blood, sweat, and tears it takes to bring something to market. I think there’s two pieces to it. One is actually wanting to justify what you’re doing, and make sure that there’s a solid business case and market pull behind it. And second, just wanting to make sure that the technology is pointed in the right direction. You need to marry the technology, and the business case, and the customer need together, so that it all comes together at the right time, at the right place, at the right price, so that a product is successful. 

I’ve worked on plenty of products that have died on the vine from an engineering standpoint because it wasn’t ready, or the technology wasn’t there, or the price was wrong, or whatever, so I think some of this discipline also drives making the right strategic decisions for the company at the end of the day. So, that’s the first part of it is solving the burning problem. 

The other two, as I mentioned, I touched on it a little bit already, is go to market. Frankly, to have discussions with your customer, drive customer intimacy and communication. Do some whiteboarding with them. Have some strategic discussions. Don’t only go to them when they have a problem, or you have a product to show them. I think just on the ideation side, or on the prototype side, we should be willing to share stuff early and often with our customers. You don’t want to get too far down the road and then realize that you spent a bunch of money that frankly is not going to meet a customer need. 

And then kind of related to that is the third point, which is: seek feedback and iterate. One of my favorite MBA professors had a book on venture creation called A Good Hard Kick in the Ass, and one of the core tenets of that book was: Release a product, or iterate a product, or introduce a product quickly to market and then get feedback. Know that it won’t be right the first time. Know that you’ll have to iterate your idea. Don’t have that hubris guide you to make the perfect mousetrap internally. When you get to market, I think being in the market gives you invaluable insight and feedback from customers, so it’s either coming up with the idea, or the product, or the roadmap, and putting it in front of customers, and then getting that feedback and iterating rapidly so that you do your learning upfront, rather than later on in the process. 

Those are the three basic tenets, solving the burning problem, go to market, and then seek feedback and iterate. 

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Jeff White: This is a great process for co-creating products and co-creating solutions to customer needs. How does this come into the marketing that you help to inform as a result of this process? 

Ahsan Javed: Some of it is around how you talk about it. And how you talk about the messaging. So, when I think of marketing, at least on my side, there’s one part of marketing that is kind of the pure advertising side and the brand management side. When I talk about marketing, it’s more about the messaging, and how do you project yourself as a company, as a technology and thought leader, and how do you develop a framework around how you communicate with your customer effectively? And a lot of that comes from having market drivers, and well-identified insight into the market, and following that up with a roadmap with your perceived features and benefits of certain products. 

Some of this can be PowerPoint engineering, as you call it, which is making sure that your ideas are well articulated with features, benefits, and messaging, and that leads to the conversation. Or even better, if you have hardware demos, or software demos that you can provide to customers, that’s even better, because then it gives engineers at your customer something to hold, and play with, and something more tangible for them to provide feedback on. So, when I think of marketing, I really think about it from that perspective. It’s the messaging and the content flow that leads to a productive discussion with a customer and ultimately with hardware or a roadmap that’s well thought through. 

Carman Pirie: It’s interesting to me. As you’ve rolled out these programs in the companies you’ve worked with, how much did marketing ride along for that? When there are two engineers collaborating, is marketing able to get in there in a way that they can get those messaging insights? Or does it rely on an engineer having some messaging sensibility, as well, I wonder? 

Ahsan Javed: Yeah, I mean typically, when it works best from my perspective, you have a mix of disciplines from the customer side and from your side in the room. Because engineer to engineer, even at the customer side, they can go off and have wonderful technical discussions that have no basis the business requirements for the company, or the strategic direction for the company at the end of the day. Typically if you have someone from a cross-discipline perspective, you should have your peers from the customer side that can provide some more structure to the discussion. So, you know, the river is flowing in the right direction, as opposed to just a purely technical discussion. 

I think that certainly helps because ultimately this is something that you are trying to sell to your customer and they are trying to sell to their end customer, and so you need to have that discipline on the customer side, as well. Having the engineers there and having the business folks there, of course, there has to be some technical know-how on both sides, even on the business side, but having that cross-functional team in the room together certainly helps make sure that you are funnelling in the right direction for both companies. 

Carman Pirie: It strikes me how similar the process is to so many suggestions for creative output. For instance, there’s a consultant in the marketing agency land space that I follow quite a lot who writes on the business of expertise, et cetera, and he would often say that you have to write and get it out there in order to even know what you think. And in some ways, the process that he describes for developing your thinking and your thought leadership as an entrepreneur isn’t that dissimilar from the process that you’re imagining an organization undertaking when it comes to product development, frankly. 

Ahsan Javed: You’re absolutely right. I mean, you look at life coaches, and performance coaches and one of the things they always tell you to do is write down your goals, right? Physically write them down. Put pen to paper. And this is not so dissimilar to that. It’s the scariest thing, and frankly, I think that’s one of the things I had the hardest time with in transitioning more from an engineer to a marketing product development guy, product management guy, is that when faced with the uncertainty of a blank sheet of paper, it’s very unnerving. An engineer, especially where I was on the product engineering side, I was given a task or a product to basically go and debug, and productize, and make sure that we could test it effectively and get it out to market. So, there was a finite task that had a discernible beginning and a discernible end, whereas this process is a recursive one, where you continue to iterate, but you have to start somewhere. You have to put pen to paper. You have to be willing to take a risk and a chance that your ideas could be wrong, and then you go out to the market and you get feedback on them, and you continue to make them better. 

But ultimately, you start with something that is essentially blank, and you have to be able to say, “Hey, what do I want to do as an organization? What do I want to do as a company?” And the question you have to answer is, “Okay, so what do we want to do?” And I think that’s a difficult question to answer in a thoughtful way, and that’s what this process really helps facilitate. So, it’s absolutely right. It’s similar to basically on a personal level being able to articulate your goals. You want to articulate the product goals or the product strategy for a company, and it’s sometimes challenging to get down on paper. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. You bet it is. 

Ahsan Javed: Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: Jeff, I’m thinking as we have Ahsan on the show here that it’s a kind of a weird occurrence, because you’re an engineer and also a marketer, so in some ways, you’re both the hunter and the hunted. So many marketers out there are either trying to market to the engineering dept, or alternatively, I think other marketers struggle with how to leverage their own engineering department in order to do better marketing. So, I wonder if you could put your engineer cap on more than your marketer cap for a moment, and say, “Man, when I think of those marketers, this is the stuff that they just didn’t get.” Or, “This is the stuff that I wish they thought of, or they knew, or would do.” Do you have any advice for the pure-play marketers out there that don’t have that engineering background? 

Ahsan Javed: Yeah. I think, look, it’s your job to be the voice of the customer, and I know that that’s also a little textbook, but you need to divine some market insight that makes it easier for the engineers to do their job, right? Everyone wants to work on the best technology and the best thing and make a better mousetrap, but it is the marketer’s job to drive the relationship with the customer so that you’re not the customer’s lapdog at the end of the day. You’re their partner. You’re their co-collaborator. If they are successful, you are successful. It’s not a zero-sum game here. 

You need to be able to really identify what are the issues at play, what are the problems that they’re trying to solve, and be able to communicate that internally. And sometimes that’s where the thousand points of resistance come in, is that there’s sometimes this organizational disdain between marketing and engineering, where it’s like, “Hey, those guys are just going off and taking them to lunches, and not really giving us any feedback, and we’re here slogging away.” And the other side of the equation is the marketers are like, “Oh, those guys keep delaying everything, and everything’s overpriced and delayed.” So, there needs to be of course some internal, I’d say friction, or collaboration, between cross-functional teams to ensure that there’s not this sort of animosity between the teams. 

I think that really comes from having these customer conversations. It’s that as you drive increased customer intimacy, you can really break down some of those barriers and it can help grease the skids internally for how a product development process works. I’ll give you a few examples across my career. Starting at Silicon Labs, I represented this optimal proximity product. This was at the beginning part of touch screens, and optical sensors, proximity sensors, and so we had a pretty cool product that did like touchless swipe detection, so you could kind of hover your hand over the top of a screen and from a fairly good distance, like 12 centimeters away, you could swipe back and forth and be able to switch a page, or scroll up and down on a page. And we had developed some demo boards and some roadmaps around this, and we went to a small thermostat company back then with this demo and said, “Hey, how would you like to control your thermostat and stuff using this long-range proximity sensor that can do gestures?” 

And they said, “Hey, you know what we would really like to do, this is a really great idea. We’d like to do a long-range kind of approach detection. Not necessarily a gesture from left to right, but is an object approaching from the left or the right, and we’ll use that to turn on the screen.” That small company was Nest. And so, the first Nest Labs proximity sensor had our product in it, and that was not originally the intended purpose of that product. It was meant to be for touchless swiping, but the demo board that we had had the capability of detecting an object from pretty far away, and so that product was designed into the first Nest thermostat. 

A nice example of working closely with your customers, going in with a certain idea, but having some technical discussion and market discussion around, “Hey, what are you actually trying to do? You’re trying to preserve battery life. You’re trying to make sure the display isn’t on all the time. We can enable this long-range object detection, so the display turns on as you walk up to the thermostat.” Now a ubiquitous feature, if you will. 

Carman Pirie: Man, all I could start thinking of as you mentioned that technology was how we need that on like elevator buttons and credit card point of sale these days in COVID, right? 

Jeff White: Wouldn’t want to do your credit card from too far away. 

Ahsan Javed: Yeah. 

Jeff White: But I do love that idea of just being open to the needs of the customer and being willing to go, “All right, well, we had this one idea, but that triggered this other idea, and then they really wanted to take us up on that,” rather than just… You know, there would have been other people that walked away and said, “Well, they didn’t want to scroll.” 

Ahsan Javed: Right. Yeah. 

Jeff White: And then the product just doesn’t have that feature and you’re not able to sell the technology that you’ve been developing. 

Ahsan Javed: Another great one, great example, at Knowles I was on the hearing aid side, and we were developing microphones and speakers for hearing aids. Really humbling and frankly motivating pursuit, if you will, because you’re really affecting people’s quality of life. You could talk about that for ages, as well. But we’re trying to increase the output of the speaker, if you will, that goes inside your ear. We developed a solution that had a chip that enabled you to drive, not to get too technical, but reduce distortion, or pre-distort the signal so you could drive additional output on the speaker. 

Basically, you’re adding some smarts to the speaker that goes inside your ear for a hearing aid. And so, we went to the customers with this idea, and they said, “You know, that’s a really good idea, but now that you have the smarts and some capability to sense output on the speaker, a really huge problem that we have with hearing aids is they get clogged up with wax, and that’s the number one reason for failure for hearing aids, and lack of adoption, and returns and whatnot, is you put them in people’s ears, kind of a gross problem, but you put them in people’s ears, which is a harsh environment for them to exist in, and we have a hard time sensing wax. And if we could sense wax and alert the user that, look, your hearing aid is not broken, it’s just clogged with wax and you need to clean it, that’s a much better solution than them bringing it back or returning it and saying this thing doesn’t work.” And so, it very quickly moved into this concept, which was a huge problem frankly for them that we had no insight into, which was, “Look, can we do wax detection and wax compensation for hearing aids?” 

Another example of something that started with increased output, but through some whiteboarding, what could you do with something that had smarts in your ear, into kind of solving a problem that we frankly didn’t really even consider at the time. 

And then lastly, I’ll give you an example on most recently at EaglePicher, on the medical side, and this is a really good one for if you just let the engineers talk, versus you let the engineers and have some business people in the room. You’d think that with some of these medical implantable products, that all you’d want to do is create a longer-lasting battery, and that would solve all sorts of problems, and it’s true except for we did these neuro stim products that basically get implanted into your lower back and solve chronic pain, if you will. Chronic back pain, or phantom limb syndrome, et cetera. And generally, these are lithium-ion batteries that get implanted in your lower back and they have to be charged, so they have to be charged on a regular basis, and so we said, “Hey, what if we expand the energy density of this so that you don’t have to charge every week, you have to charge every two weeks, or every three weeks?” And the feedback was, and if you just had engineers, maybe they would think that was a good example, or good solution, because less charging equals better. 

But you know, when we talked to people and had more of the kind of supply chain and the product guys in the room, it turned out, look, the human body is used to certain periods, right? You’re used to things every day. You’re used to things every week. You’re used to things every month. You’re not used to things every two weeks. And it’s very difficult to train someone to charge something every two weeks. So, they said, “Look, unless you can expand this from a week to a month, it really doesn’t do us any good. What really would help us is if you are able to maintain the existing energy density and make it smaller, so that it’s something easier to implant and there’s less resistance or pain, pocket pain if you were, from implanting this neurostimulation product in someone’s body. So, if you can make it thinner and we can make the product smaller, there’s less pain and irritation and whatnot, so that’s actually better. We’ll stick with the one week, but take all the technology you’re using to kind of expand the energy density and make it smaller. Or thinner, if you will.” 

That’s another example of you’re pivoting away from what your original thesis was, which was, “Hey, higher energy density, larger charging durations are better,” to, “Hey, we’d much rather have it so that you can charge in the same duration, but make the product smaller.” 

Carman Pirie: I think those are some fantastic examples, and Jeff, I’m sure you agree. Just kind of bring it home. You can really see that in action. 

Jeff White: Yeah. That kind of stuff gets me really excited. I love the idea. 

Carman Pirie: You know, I don’t know, maybe this is just like the jaded marketer in me coming out, but I find that so much of marketing these days is expected to come with some level of certainty. There’s an awful lot of folks out there that think, I think because of the measurement of digital, it leads to a false sense of security, or certainty I should say, and that they kind of want kind of almost guaranteed ROI on every little tactic, every little thing, and a kind of knowing where the end is before they even start. So, it’s really quite encouraging and nice to hear somebody on the engineering product side be more open to the possibilities and not being so constrained by that. So, I think it’s been a fascinating conversation, Ahsan. 

Ahsan Javed: Yeah, and I think they’re actually complementary. I understand what you’re saying. Everyone wants to rack and stack all of their internal developments and make sure that the business cases are right, and that the ROIs are sufficient and all that, and I think that this process can actually help you do that, and you should absolutely be doing that in addition to this process, which is making sure that you have a number of moonshots, kind of more risky things, and then other things that are closer to core, that are more iterative, so you can kind of map out all of your internal initiatives. But frankly, being able to drive the customer intimacy and iterating quickly. You know, there’s the mantra of fail fast. This isn’t necessarily… You could look at it as failing fast, but it’s your ideas and your prototypes that are failing fast as opposed to you sitting and trying to divine the perfect solution in your head. 

So, I think it drives a more strategic relationship, collaborative relationship with your customer, and then also can help facilitate a more positive return on your business case at the end of the day. 

Carman Pirie: Absolutely. Well, look, Ahsan, thanks so much for sharing your experience and expertise with us today on The Kula Ring, and helping us put that proverbial more meat on the bone when it comes to customer collaboration. This has been a great conversation. Thank you so much. 

Ahsan Javed: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks a lot, Jeff. Thanks, Carman. 

Jeff White: Thank you. 

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