Your network is a very useful source of data

In the age of Big Data the late David Ogilvy’s quote comes into play when he says,“I prefer the discipline of knowledge to the anarchy of ignorance [and] we pursue knowledge in the way a pig pursue truffles.” I can hear the computer geeks adding, “There’s an app for that too,” as they design programmes to be as aggressive and as desperate to uncover every bit of information available.

Let’s put the apps aside for a moment and explore the old fashioned mode of collecting data, when people used to talk to each other face-to-face as their primary source of news. In fact, if you examine our local languages you will discover that most words used for ‘hello’ are linked to the concept of news, and direct translations include ‘the news’?, ‘what news do you bring from your journey’?, and even ‘how did the world open up today’? for ‘good morning’. 

When Gaston Glock created the famous pistol named after him, his primary source of information came through analog means. At that time the highest selling firearms were manufactured by the Americans (why am I not surprised?), the Swiss, the Italians and the Germans, and not a single soul expected any good to come from Austria, where Gaston was born and bred.

As a small supplier of utility knives to the Austrian military he occasionally walked along the corridors of the army offices and on one particular day he overheard an exchange that led him to believe that the force was looking for a new type of weapon that stretched the imagination of the arms producers and soldiers alike. He immediately reached out to his contacts in the administration to get more details and without a moments hesitation began to design what he thought would fit the brief.

Also within his networks were weapons designers and mechanical engineers with knowledge and skills to bring the dream to life. He brought them together in a well kitted workshop that he had built in his home for this very purpose. Over time he developed a number of prototypes which needed testing, and once again he reverted to his network within the defence force, the final users of the product.

He invited high ranking army officers to his home for meals following which discussions were introduced around the design of handguns with an emphasis to the intricate needs of the troops, such as the angle of the grip, the trigger release and the kickback. This type of research was instrumental to the success of the pistol that he first produced, the Glock 17, and the subsequent series of firearms.

He had a deftness for recruiting the right people, a penchant for mixing with the influencers in the defence sector and an acute understanding of the impact that trade fairs and conventions had on sales. When his brand was chosen by the New York Police Department as standard issue, that was the beginning of a rapid rise that shot the brand beyond the traditional manufacturers. 

Among all the things that Gaston Glock put in place to set the ground to create a top selling firearm brand, was the ability to gather data the old fashioned way while expanding his network every time the need called for it.


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