2008. 8. 7.

Opinion About Corporate Evangelism

Microsoft에 들어오기 전에 썼던 Evangelism에 대한 글이 오늘 갑자기 생각났다. 영어가 서툴러 잘 쓴 글이 아닌지라 내보이기 다소 계면쩍지만, 왜인지 누군가가 나와 생각을 함께 하는 사람이 있을 듯 하다는 생각이 든다. 수많은 글들이 떠나니는 이 곳에서, 우연히 스스로와 꼭 같은 생각을 하는 사람을 만났을 적에 샘솟는 기쁨이란 느껴보지 않은 사람이 아니면 모르는 법이지.

그러고 보니, China 속담에 이런 말이 있다지.
뜻이 같으면, 모르는 이도 벗이다.

한데, 내 지나보니 곁에 있는 사람 가운데 벗을 찾기가 훨씬 더 어렵더라.

사실, Microsoft에서 정작 내가 맡은 일은 이런 생각과 한참 거리가 멀다. 그럼에도 이런 글을 올린 까닭은, 세상 그 누군가 기술의 아름다움의 참말 즐기는 사람이라면, 그 일이 무엇이던 간에, 모르는 누군가와 생각을 같이하는 즐거움을 누릴 수 있기를 진정 바라기 때문이다.

어색하거나 틀리게 쓴 글을 다듬어 주시면 더욱 좋고.

Opinion about corporate evangelism

I believe successful evangelism comes only from true inspiration of target audience. That is, without deep understanding the cultural diversity, technical/business needs and behavioral characteristics of target communities, any commercial evangelistic activity is essentially not much different with plain old sales. Indeed, technical evangelism is generally considered to be an extended practice for technical sales in a long-term marketing strategy of any modern profit organization. However, to maximize the effect of corporate evangelism, the roles and activities should be interpreted and evaluated in a completely different way, especially compared with that of traditional product sales; saying, consumer evangelism.

It's not my point to repeat a telling from books like "Selling the Dream". I'm simply questioning about for what purpose originally a job, named "technology evangelist", was created and furthermore, what is a more desirable way of a corporate evangelistic strategy in this modern software industry. Finding the answer is fairly simple because it's well summarized in the corresponding job description of any corporate; that is, all technical evangelistic actions is for mind-sharing with pro engineers to strengthen a technical leadership of a corporate by extending a royalty-proven customer base.

However, to speak honestly, until now I have been repeatedly disappointed with unacceptable behavior of (hopefully a few) evangelists working for diverse vendors. They behaved unreasonably much like that their most important role is to dig up tiny flaws of competing products, talk big and aloud about them and even worse, underestimate admirable achievements of competitors by intention. I could hardly see any signs of sincere mind-sharing efforts in their activities. Most of their writings were usually not much helpful than typical product manuals, their presentations were often nearly close to funny TV commercials, and the purpose of their discussion was felt like biting competing candidates, rather than sharing useful knowledge and practice. Consequently, at least in that time, I reasoned the word "evangelist" is just a hyped business wording and therefore it's not so strange they evangelists cannot give any useful help to the targeted CoPs (communities of practice) because they are not real engineers. Nevertheless one mystery remained uncovered; does really such fruitless marketing practice and actions of fake engineers carefully trained and arranged by their organizations? I partly suspected some highly elaborated business plans lies behind their actions, but I couldn't easily buy their behavior. Now I'm sure, no matter what real intention are sophisticatedly planned, the purpose of technical evangelism cannot be accomplished in that way because an evangelistic effort of a corporate must be successful by true mind-sharing only with real pro engineers in this industry. In a way, they are also enthusiastic missionaries, but they do seldom work for any specific products or technologies. They just enjoy evangelizing their own technical beliefs.

Pro engineers, if they are really pro, are technologically well balanced so they are not easily moved by pun-like speech, usually full of glossy marketing buzzwords. In addition most of them has got tired enough by technical hypes from various vendors and academic researchers during the past decades in this industry. Also It's typical they have highly skeptical and negative as to commercial technical missionary. So that's not easy task to win them over to a technical vision of any specific corporate but without that efforts, any commercial evangelistic activities would produce only useless technical worshipers. The fragile community of that worshipers could be enormous in the size but in a long-term view that community could not give any helpful impact on strengthening technical leadership of a corporate. Rather, due to clumsy activities of that community a technical vision of a corporate is very likely to impress as highly unreasonable and not trustful. Technically speaking, product or technology worshipers are just a herd of zombie, no more or less. Nobody likes to communicate sincerely with that zombies about real technological issues. On the contrary, pro engineers are a few but they lead long-life and robust technical communities. Real technical communities tends to be centered around a shared framework of practices, rather than a specific product or technology family. In many cases, they are very likely to be opinion and technological leaders of their own CoPs, so they can steadily give meaningful messages to the members of their CoPs via various media, mind-engraving impacts on their followers, and deterministic contributions to shape the future technical trend in their specialized domains. If so, how should evangelists organize their activities for technical mind-sharing with that pro engineers; in other words, what behavior will be considered as acceptable, reasonable, and even respectful by their CoPs.

I've learned through my own experience. It's not a product or technology what pro developers and their CoPs are really thirsty for. That's a guru or mentor who is believed to be capable of guiding vision-promising ways, friendly helping to find practical solutions at any time, and someday maybe returning a joy of engineering life on their hands. (I reason that's one of strong motivations which makes the impact of Free & Open Source Software communities much more broader than ever before.) In that vein, for successful mission, evangelists should achieve definite recognition as technical mentors of target CoPs, not disturbing hawkers as they are. Moreover, corporate evangelists should be very careful not to give an impression that they overstate superiorities of their products or technologies over other competing ones. Rather, by exposing exactly the pros and cons of their own products and deeply discussing possible ways of essential improvements, they could give a highly desirable impression that either they or their corporate must be one of trustful leaders to deterministically shape the future technical trend in this industry.

댓글 2개:

Wonseok :

원래 Corporate Evangelism이 뭔가 잘 몰랐는데 이번 글을 통해서 알게 되었습니다. 기업(기술)전도사 정도로 이해하면 될까요? 사실 예전에 학교에 있을때 기업분들 상대로 연구실 기술을 이전한답시고 "이게 최곱니다" "저건 이래서 문제예요"라고 말을 하고 다녔었는데 나중에 막상 회사에 취직해서 실제 시스템을 쳐다보니 내가 얼마나 무식하고 용감했던지를 깨달았던 적이 있는데 그런 기억을 되살려 주는 글이군요. 회사의 경계를 넘나들면서 최적(최선)의 해결책을 조언해줄 수 있는 조언자. 멋진 직업일 것 같은데, 왠지 프로덕트를 갖고 있는 회사보다는 SI 회사나 컨설턴트들에 더 어울릴 것 같다는 편견도 갖게 됩니다. 그러기에 쓰신 글이 더욱더 빛나는 것이겠지요. 앞으로도 좋은 글 많이 부탁드립니다.

근데, 전에 학교에 계시지 않았나요? 갑자기 MS에서 일하신다니 쌩뚱맞으신 것 같아서요. 혹시 컴파일러 만드시나요???

Kizoo :

네, 올 초만 해도 학교에 있었죠. :) 지금은 마이크로소프트에서 플랫폼 전략 부장으로 일합니다. 짐작하신대로 컨설턴트 비슷한 일을 합니다만, 오늘의 기술보다 다가올 기술과 사업성, 그러나 너무 멀지 않은 기술을 다룹니다.

그러나 정작 여기온 까닭은, 하루 종일 소프트웨어 기술 이야기를 해도 아무도 이상한 사람 취급을 하지 않을 것이라는 기대, 그리고 1988년 SICP를 접하면서 1990년 이후로 꾸준히 신념처럼 키워온 LOP(Language-Oriented Paradigm /Domain-Specific Language/Domain Specific Service Architectue)과 같은 기술 방향에 대해 동의하는 제품을 갖추고 있는 회사를 국내에서 찾다보니 여기에 이르렀네요.

잘한 선택인지는 모르지만, 즐겁게 일해보려고 합니다. 하지만, 역시 본성은 어쩔 수 없어서인지, 일을 정리하고 두어시간 만지작 거리는 코딩과 프로그래밍 시간이 가장 즐겁습니다.

조만간에 극도의 아름다운 코드를 과녂 삼는 "Code Art"같은 이름의 블로그를 만들어 볼까 생각 중입니다.