The term marketing myopia is also not mine; both the term and the quote above are by Theodore Levitt who wrote what is now considered as a legendary article back in 1960 for the Harvard Business Review. It is all worth that you read the article yourselves, so there is no need from my side to provide a summary here. It is what one might regard as classic so I repeat: all worth for you to read. (People also associate Levitt with the globazlisation, a term he popularized but this is another story and, for the scope of our present thoughts we focus on the impact of the main message of his myopia article.)

A recently appointed CDO (don’t know the term? It stays for ‘Chief Digital Officer’!) of a big German (multinational as well) company claimed in an interview that ‘big companies with a successful history have to have the courage [my note: or actually the guts] to re-invent themselves’ [1]. Hmmm… I wouldn’t like to risk a guess on the longevity of the person as CDO, but if I were his boss, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with an employee who in his capacity as a CDO comes up with generalisations that are beyond his area of responsibility. And as one can see, what he said applies also to small companies and I am afraid also to start-ups. And political parties. And the church. And families. And to any of us at the individual level.

Till now i have used about 250 words and still not provided a link to our project (: cybersecurity situational awareness and information sharing solution for local public administrations based on advanced big data analysis) or its overall area (: cybersecurity solutions for local public administrations and SMEs). Here it is:

Levitt’s article main message was that businesses will do better in the end if they concentrate on meeting customers’ needs rather than on selling products. He provides several examples on how – as result of myopia – businesses lost their markets or disappeared from them because they have wrongly defined what they were expected from them to do.

Levitt mentioned an example drawn from the area of railroads – these were in trouble at that time and, yes, as we all know, they still are in trouble today! Myopia is a disease that can be handled (eyeglasses) or treated (eye surgery). However, marketing myopia seems to be an incurable chronic disease that comes as result of dysfunctions of other parts of the human anatomy (: brain).

So here is what Levitt wrote:

[…] The railroads are in trouble today not because that need was filled by others (cars, trucks, airplanes, and even telephones) but because it was not filled by the railroads themselves. They let others take customers away from them because they assumed themselves to be in the railroad business rather than in the transportation business. The reason they defined their industry incorrectly was that they were railroad oriented instead of transportation oriented; they were product oriented instead of customer oriented. […]

The part of our project activities that relate to the project blog are not aimed to spark academic debates – the latter may also be regarded as old fashioned and usually they don’t contribute much to solve problems. So here is the main message, as I think, for us and the CS-AWARE project:

Our business are the local public administrations; our business is not cybersecurity or cybersecurity technologies or the cybersecurity technologies market.

And more specifically: our business relates to how best and most efficiently we can improve the means for local public administrations to protect themselves from cyber threats, risks and attacks. If this can happen with the use of self-healing mechanisms that make extensive use of big data analytics, it is good. If they do this by use of machine learning technology and advanced AI it is also good. The main issue is to fulfill the needs of our customers.

Mao Zedong is attributed the quote that ‘it doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice’. Paraphrasing it, in our case the CS-AWARE technology and solution is the cat that has to catch the mice (: cyber threats). It might be black or white, and we still have the freedom to come up with a dog or a chameleon – as long as it catches mice, we are successful – and we stay in business!

Adamantios Koumpis
University of Passau

[1] In German: ‘Große Unternehmen mit erfolgreicher Geschichte sollten den Mut haben, sich immer wieder neu zu erfinden’. See here: