How "Groundswell" Winner National Instruments Builds Customers for the Future
At the 2009 Summit: National instruments' John Pasquarette, Vice President, Product Marketing – Software, showed us how National Instruments (NI) achieved a pretty remarkable strategic success by marshalling its customer communities in a successful, high-profile cause marketing effort. NI's long-term goal was to increase visibility and usage of its programming language, LabVIEW. John showed how his team partnered with philanthropist and inventor Dean Kamen's FIRST Robotics competition, which attracts 1700 high school teams culminating in a Super Bowl-type event in the Georgia Dome each Spring. The goal: get these customers and engineers of the future to convert to LabVIEW over the traditional programming language approaches they normally use to control their robots. It was a high risk effort: the kids had only 6 weeks to master the language and build their robots. If the students' first experience with NI products had been bad, the entire project would have backfired. But it exceeded expectations. John showed us how NI brought existing experts from its communities with the student teams to drive adaptation significantly beyond the firm’s initial goals.