What Exactly are you Hiding?

It’s been a few weeks since we got back from Pack Expo 2009 in Las Vegas (Pack Expo 2010 is in Chicago Oct 31 – Nov 3) and as always, we have been diligently following up on leads. There is a trend that we have noticed growing over the last few years that seems to be coming to a head…..that is the customer’s demand for information clashing with the supplier’s desire to protect their intellectual property. This was highlighted in a conversation we had with an R&D engineer for a Fortune 100 company who attended Pack Expo Looking at labelers for equipment he is developing. This is a REAL customer, with a REAL, FUNDED, project, with a REAL company. After creating his short list of candidates, he went back to document the available equipment with pictures and notes. He was stunned to find that of the eight companies on his short list, only two, just two would allow him to take photographs of the equipment that they had on public display! One supplier’s employee went so far as to verbally accost him!

This goes to an idea that hasn’t yet filtered to the old guard industries just yet. It is the concept that we need to bring our customers in, we need to share all the information we possibly can, tell them what we do, how we do it, and why we do it that way. We need to open up on our manufacturing technologies and show them our software methodologies. This builds comfort and confidence in our skills, in our technology and in our ability to meet their needs.  When faced with the option of an inclusive process or buying a black box, which are they going to choose?

Let’s be honest, there just aren’t that many secrets left and patents are only as strong as your desire to defend them. The belief that you are protecting your market by withholding what you believe to be proprietary information is flawed.  Security by obscurity is dead, it costs sales and alienates customers. How do I know? Our new customer told me so.