Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sometimes the best connection is a real connection

I recently interviewed Dave Hawley, Director of Product Management for the EX 8208 at Juniper Networks. We talked about what the EX8208 is and what makes it so remarkable and relevant to the market. Dave and the whole EX8208 crew worked incredibly hard for the past 2 years (you can read his blog about it) so it was a great pleasure to sit down and discuss the final result.
I also talked to another member of the EX 8208 crew, Bobby Guhasarkar, Senior Manager for Product Marketing in the Ethernet Platforms Business Group. He and I discussed how the project evolved from a start-up in 2006. After the start-up was picked up by Juniper, their group of merely 4 people blossomed into 300 throughout Sunnyvale, California and Bangalore, India. 

Rather than work to re-do existing platforms, the EX 8208 team started from scratch. Bobby said this was "easier to do," and the fact that they had big-company funding while functioning like a small company definitely helped. 

Of course, being a social-media minded girl in a high tech industry, I am always looking to find the human elements in all the so-called "techs and specs". A big part of the job for Bobby is talking to customers. He is frequently on the road--about one week per month. These travels allow Bobby to give presentation to channel partners and act as a human barometer. Product marketing pivots on customer feedback and interaction.

When I asked Bobby if he used social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Linked-In (these three are becoming the professional holy trinity for most of us these days), he promptly shrugged off the platforms as being helpful aids for his job. Outside of work, Bobby uses Facebook to stay connected to past and current friends, but professionally Facebook and Twitter are of no use to him. 

When talking to Bobby, it became clearer how social media might "connect" us to an endless amount of people, but it has yet to master how to make those connections natural and 'human'. Intonation, emphasis and tone are impossible to convey on Facebook and Twitter. We must rely on those we have befriended to assume what our tone of voice is. 

I enjoyed the fact that social media was irrelevant for Bobby's job. It proved to me that although social media is 'all the rage' and 'on the rise'--nothing beats having a conversation face to face, developing a rapport, and being able to read a person's reactions.

I greatly enjoyed speaking with Dave and Bobby and, although I don't understand the depth of the technology 100% of the time, it is easy to see how impressive and powerful this technology is. I give a very enthusiastic congratulations to Dave, Bobby and the entire EX 8208 team. And if you have been living only online for too long, let me translate that: I digg them, I clicked "KUDOS" or "thumbs up" and I rated their work 5 stars.

If you would like to see my video interview with Dave Hawley, head over to JuniperMediaCenter's YouTube Channel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just questioned the new version of community that has grown out of the social networks. Nothing like it was, virtual borders. Blogged some on this myself, asking what are the rules, who is making them, etc. One friend said that being alone is a lost art, so may be face to face interpersonal communication. So much easier over a tweet.