Director of Marketing, Centigram Communication

Centigram Communications

Centigram was an expansion stage company that manufactured enhanced network services systems. Our target was wireless operators, and we stepped into this market just as most of the world began putting in cellular networks. I was brought in to take them from a US base to a global base. Revenues grew from $10M to $100M during the time I was there, and the bulk of the growth came from international markets.


I was responsible for International Product Management and Marketing, Marketing Communications, and managing the Consulting Services Group.

International Product Management and Marketing

Centigram had a broad footprint in the US in both the Telco and PBX markets. They had one international customer (ePlus in Germany), and were looking for rapid international expansion. Taking a telco product into a global market required three elements; localization, homologation, and type approval. None of this was required for the product for the US markets, as such, when I began, Centigram was not set up to take it’s product internationally.

The first eighteen months were complex and very politically driven. Most of the internationalization of the product was executed at a low operational level, by people who were also responsible for providing support to US operations (which at the time accounted for the bulk of the company’s revenue). Getting them to focus on international product requirements meant they needed to move up a new learning curve while still doing a full-time job, as such the initial resistance was considerable.

I eventually went to the CEO and pushed for the idea of an international operations group that was multi-divisional, encompassing engineering, marketing, sales, support, manufacturing, and operations. The CEO had recently been to Germany for the first time, and was told in no uncertain terms by ePlus what needed to be done. This mapped pretty cleanly to the initiative I was trying to push through, so the plan was approved and implemented very quickly. This was the point at which our international revenues really took off.

Marketing Communications

Our MarCom activity was bursty. Our interaction with the media and analysts would happen four times per year, always tied to a major product launch, and normally loosely coupled to a significant local event. I would run media tours that would include the UK and Europe, Mexico, Central and South America, Australia and Asia/Pacific, and India. We would average four briefings per day over a period of three weeks, every three months.

Part of our responsibility was to broaden our solution footprint from our core offering (network-based voicemail systems) to include a broad range of rich media communication products, including speech to text, text to speech (have your e-mails read to you over the phone), integrated fax, etc. We were moving towards a fully-integrated graphic communications management application delivered through the network to whatever device the end user required. The product was referred to as OneSource.

Consulting Services Group

Centigram discovered early on during it’s international expansion that most of it’s customers (wireless telcos) did not know the first thing about marketing. Most of the wireless telcos were spin-offs of the wireline service provider, so there was a real utility mind-set at play. I was put in charge of the Consulting Services Program, which was referred to as the Market Leadership Program. We would go into a country and work with the local carrier to develop a marketing plan, packaging/pricing/promotion, customer support and new account procedures, collateral systems, advertising programs, etc. We essentially became an outsourced marketing department for them. Companies I worked with included:

  • Brazil Telecom
  • France Telecom
  • Bharti Cellular-India
  • Optus-Australia
  • Singapore Telecom
  • ePlus-Germany
  • Korea Telecom
  • Telesp Panama
  • Telmex
  • Telesp Brazil