• January 1, 2008
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

Let's Get Digital

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Interactive, three-dimensional displays are just as good as, if not better than, having the real thing when showing customers new products. The physical presence of products is crucial to effective marketing at events such as trade shows -- potential customers need to see to believe. However, for Ciena Corp., a Maryland-based provider of optical networking equipment, the product in question is heavy, expensive, and fragile. Consequently, travel began to take a significant toll on the company's budget. From transporting the equipment to setting it up, costs often totaled $100,000 per event, not including reparation costs for any damages, and over 800 hours of labor and preparation time per year, according to Bill Rozier, vice president of global marketing at Ciena. The sheer bulk of the equipment also prevented customers from getting a high-quality, 360-degree view of the product. As a result, Ciena decided to create interactive, large-screen product displays, and turned to the v-OSK product from Kaon Interactive, a Massachusetts-based provider of 3-D marketing solutions. The burden of physically delivering the optical networking equipment eliminated, Ciena not only saved 85 percent on recurring shipping costs, but cut back on labor and stress as well. And in 2006, Ciena won "best-in-show" at an international technology trade show where, Rozier says, Ciena wasn't even the largest exhibitor. "Customers tell us [digital] is the most provocative way ever to look at equipment," he says. "They're enamored with it." Moreover, after adding Kaon's models to the company Web site -- a feature that Rozier claims the telecom space had never seen -- Ciena reports that 61 percent of visitors spend between 5 and 60 minutes per visit, compared to only 17 percent of visitors who don't engage with the digital models. The overall change, he adds, has allowed Ciena to be much more customer-centric as customers can navigate the product in a whole new way. Ciena has also equipped its sales force with the digital models to better facilitate one-on-one customer interactions. Digital models have also enabled Ciena to deliver the most current product models more easily and in real time. The telecommunications industry is continually advancing, Rozier observes, with product changes occurring almost every six months. Kaon's v-OSK has become the "cornerstone" in Ciena's marketing initiatives, Rozier says, and he is confident that "it's only going to get better."
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