Editor’s note: Eric Jackson, a technology consultant and developer, is a regular contributor to Local Tech Wire. His column appears on Tuesdays.

BLACK MOUNTAIN,Last week’s column considered the commercialization of emerging technologies from the broader perspective of investment in a new industry. This week and next, we zoom in on the individual company and consider some ways to increase the chances of success for products built on new and unfamiliar technologies.

Emerging technologies are distinctive in that one often faces distrust, not just of the company and product, but also of the underlying technology, and some of the suggestions below are targeted specifically at addressing this issue. At the same time, introducing anything new to a market can be difficult, and so many of the ideas here apply as well to any company introducing a new product.

We begin with a fundamental rule of business: know your customers. Violating this rule is the reason most businesses fail, hi-tech or not. But emerging technology businesses are a little more prone to errors here simply because they are more likely to be driven by techie types with a view of the world that differs radically from that of the customers they hope to win. Here are a few suggestions that can help maintain focus on the customer and the market.

Partner with your customers

.In order to successfully sell to your customers, you must understand them. How do you do this? Obviously, many kinds of research can be useful, but the best way of all is to meet them and talk to them. Even better, bring them in as real partners, through beta-test programs or advisory groups. But don’t make the mistake of seeking customer partnerships as “trophies” to show investors or other customers. Look for real relationships that really help both sides. Do this and the rest will follow.

Narrow your focus

Don’t target your business too broadly too soon. Your people probably understand their technology well, but they need to understand the business that they are in equally well, and staying targeted on a strategic niche can help.

Stay in the now

Find, and stay focused on the problem or desire that the product addresses now. Without a vision, your company may not last very long, but getting starry-eyed in conversations with harried customers trying to solve today’s problems may shorten your company’s lifetime even more.

Keep technology and marketing connected

Keep the front (customer-facing) and back (technology-facing) rooms of your company closely connected, and be wary of letting the back room people drive. This is not to say that technologists can’t lead or be customer-focused, but to do so effectively they must be effectively and deliberately connected to the people who will buy and use the product.

Cloak the product in the familiar

Someone told me recently that the earliest tractors had reins to steer, so that the farmers had less to adjust to. Familiar things may need to be enlivened with new packaging, but unfamiliar things can probably benefit from the old.

Make sure your product and your market really match

If you have an early-stage product, especially one based on a new technology, you are likely to have more problems and fewer features than similar products based on mature technologies. It is easy to convince yourself that just one more iteration will fix it. Don’t — it’s a trap. Find the customer who particularly needs the unique features your product provides, and who does not need those that it doesn’t, for example, a research institution willing to experiment, or a small business who needs the lower price, rather than a Fortune 1000 enterprise who needs the full range of features, solid protection and total stability.

Pay attention to the environment

If there is controversy around the technology, you need to know and understand both sides, and know how to address your customers’ and other questions, without arrogance.

As usual, these ideas are quite simple, but don’t mistake simple for easy. Carrying them out well requires deliberateness and humility, as well as a willingness to take things one step at a time — topics that we will take up in the last installment next week.

Eric Jackson is the founder of DeepWeave. He has built his career pioneering software solutions to particularly large and difficult problems. In 2000, Eric co-founded Ibrix, Inc. He is the inventor of the Ibrix distributed file system, a parallel file storage system able to scale in size and performance to millions of terabytes.

DeepWeave: www.deepweave.com