Thoughts on Thought Leadership

Thoughts on Thought Leadership

Now that I am Chief Evangelist at EnterpriseWeb, people occasionally ask me what a Chief Evangelist does. My answer is that I provide thought leadership and marketing. To which my ever-curious audience predictably asks what the difference is between the two.

Thought leadership and marketing are in fact two different tasks with different (although related) goals. Marketing centers on communicating the value proposition and differentiator ? what problems we solve, why you should buy what we?re selling, and why you shouldn?t (or can?t) buy it from anyone else.

But thought leadership has a different goal. The goal of thought leadership is to paint the picture of the world of the future, a world our technology enables. Technology is changing and business is changing, and how technology-empowered business will look five, ten, or twenty years out is a complicated, imperceptible mess. Thought leadership helps people clear up the confusion so they can gradually understand how all the pieces fit together.

Marketing is about today and perhaps a few months into the future ? what can we do for customers this year. Thought leadership connects today to tomorrow. It?s not about getting all the details right. It?s about painting the big picture. Thought leadership gives us the opportunity to place our technology into the broader context.

Thought leadership involves telling a story, one chapter at a time. Take the reader on a journey, filling in the missing pieces to the big picture over time. The story will naturally improve over time, and that?s OK ? since no one really cares about what the story was in years past. It?s assembling the big picture of the future, piece by piece. Each piece has to stand on its own, but how they all fit together is the real lesson.


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