Expert's Panel

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    How do you assess indirect competition?

  1. That is one of the most insightful questions we have ever had. We it comes to indirect competition for marketers that is what separates the sheep from the goats. I would see the three main types of indirect competition to be obsolescence, disruptive technology and innovative technology. They are often silent and three years later may have taken the bulk of your business. It is not easy to see innovative technology that someone is developing that is going to completely do away with that whole layer on the wafer, resulting in obsolescence of your way of doing things.
  2. You usually get a chance to look at these issues just described by keeping up with published papers to see if there happens to be an issue around your specific area. Also remember that engineering and technology people are the ones who are most knowledgeable about the physics and applications of the product and, hopefully, some of the alternative technologies that might come up to blindside you. SEMATECH can also be helpful to you. People often bring things to them in order to get their emerging products publicized in the industry.
  3. Let me give you an example. You strip photoresist off wafers—there are a lot of people making photoresist strippers. And you clean wafers between layers with IPA cleaning and IPA drying. If you ask someone in one of these businesses today, do you compete with CO2? They will say no, we are in the liquid cleaning business. Yet super critical fluids—primarily made out of liquefied CO2 –is a whole new technology and innovation. It is disruptive in nature, but if you are a smart marketer you'll say we either better wind our product down or do we need to get in this new business. He or she then becomes the catalyst for product change.
  4. A few weeks ago I was asked to give a consultative seminar at a company to a department call DPG, which stands for “Disruptive Products Group." They were formed and isolated to specifically take a look at two things: (1) existing technology that may be suspect or subject to some new wild wave; and (2) abstract new technology that is totally outside the realm and might totally displace some products. When asked why they formed such a group the answer was the company was getting blindsided too much by their own people. The engineering groups felt threatened, but it was a necessity.