MathWorks: Accelerating the Pace of Engineering and Science
MathWorks was founded in 1984 and employs more than 3,000 people, 30 percent of them located outside the United States. Headquartered in Natick, Mass., the company produces mathematical computing software for engineers, scientists, mathematicians and researchers. The two main product lines, MATLAB and Simulink, are used as research and development tools throughout the automotive, aerospace, communications, electronics and industrial automation industries.
While new product marketing employees had a strong engineering background and deep knowledge of the MathWorks products, the levels of formal marketing education and training varied greatly. As MathWorks continued to grow and expand into new applications and industries, establishing a more systematic approach to marketing was crucial. They wanted to ensure everyone on the product marketing team had a consistent and effective process to implement strategic, collaborative and repetitive go-to-market strategies.
To help employees understand the why behind their jobs and to drive a consistent approach to marketing across the team, Paul Barnard, director of product marketing, began researching training. As someone who had previously taken Pragmatic Institute training, Barnard said, “The training gave me a framework for my job. And as I attended additional courses, it was clear that the training matched where we wanted to go as a company.”
MathWorks now requires all new product marketers to attend training. The company built a competency model around the Pragmatic Institute Framework and integrated it into their career development system to help employees develop as product marketing professionals.
MathWorks also established Birds of a Feather, an internal networking group for product marketers from across the company to meet regularly, collaborate and share best practices. Subgroups also formed to address topics in-depth such as positioning and market problems. Sharing examples of what team members were working on helped reinforce the new language and marketing approach.
The Pragmatic Institute training provided participants with a better understanding of marketing strategy and a common language with which to discuss market problems, positioning and market opportunities. By using the principles of Pragmatic Institute, MathWorks was able to implement a strategic, repetitive go-to-market strategy that helped elevate the success of the company’s marketing campaigns.
“Training has worked well for us,” Barnard said. “Once a critical mass of people took the courses, it really started to make an impact.”
MathWorks applies standard metrics to all the training it brings in and Pragmatic Institute always rates extremely high. The company adheres to the 70/20/10 rule: Employees focus 10 percent of their time on formal learning, 20 percent on social learning and 70 percent of their time learning through practice on the job. Pragmatic Institute courses made up the formal learning, while Birds of a Feather and its subgroups supported the social learning, enabling employees to apply what they learned on the job.
Training helped MathWorks gain the tools and framework to articulate the why. Once enough people went through training, the company could align its templates and processes for bringing products to market to the different principles of Pragmatic Institute.
“Now, when we have executive level reviews to bring products to market, we use those principles to ensure that we have products that are tuned to the market needs and will sell,” Barnard said. “We have become more rigorous in our evaluation of market opportunities, ensuring that we are asking all the right questions as we bring a product to market.”
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