Adapting marketing messages to specific audiences is a topic I’ve written on here and in a few of my Forrester reports. Getting the messages right requires an understanding of the drivers and motivations of buyers. And, going into new geographical markets means that you’ll need local knowledge; you can’t assume that you know what will resonate in a particular market. Recently I came across an example that illustrates the point in The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, by Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen Fund.
This achievement wasn't unexpected -- in August, 2007, we predictedthat Acer would become a formidable industry titan: "Acer's announcement that it will acquire Gateway is a clever plan, as Acer simultaneously improves its brand recognition, channel reach, and opportunity for gains in margin. Like IBM Deep Blue, Acer strategists calculated several moves ahead in the global PC chess game. If the execution is solid, this deal will create a powerful third-place PC competitor that will challenge HP and Dell by 2009, and it portends the rise of non-Japanese Asian PC superpowers."
Acer has proven shrewd in product strategy over the past few years. (Indeed, we declared that "even war strategist Sun-Tzu" couldn't have done better!). Acer's work with Ferarri was a masterstroke in branding (from an unexpected company, at the time). Acer's excellence in netbooks has ridden the wave of the market at the right time. More fundamentally, Acer's cost structure benefits from its proximity to Asian-based factories and original design manufacturers (ODMs). Dell, once the king of cost structure, isn't in as privileged a position. And Acer's access to retail channel (including Gateway's) and experience in SKU management in retail is currently superior to Dell's. (Dell re-entered retail after a long hiatus).
I love going to our Services & Sourcing Forum. As always, our event in Chicago was a great experience. In many ways it’s the highlight of my year as Research Director of the Sourcing & Vendor Management team. The forum takes almost a full year to pull together: picking topics, finding speakers, preparing content…all in the hopes we can help our clients learn something that will help them do their jobs better.
And in return for all that work, the SVM team always learns something too. The attendees, generally senior sourcing execs from big companies, are so willing to share their experiences with us and with each other that I always leave the forum feeling productive and smart and humble. Smart because I leave knowing we provided great content but humble because I always realize at the forum how much I still don’t know (or know well enough).
What did I learn this year? Here are some key nuggets (in no particular order or pattern):
Barracuda Networks, the networking appliance vendor headquartered in Campbell, CA, announced today that they entered into agreement to acquire Purewire, a Web security services startup in Atlanta, in a cash/stock deal.
I have to say this announcement came as somewhat a surprise to me. Barracuda is a known networking appliance vendor, selling low-cost, on-premise network security appliances from firewalls to antispam devices. When I spoke to the Barracuda folks a few months back, they remained skeptical about the whole cloud computing craze. This move to acquire Purewire, unexpected as it was, serves as another testimony that cloud computing has reached mainstream status.
Barracuda made a name for themselves in industry by targeting small to medium businesses. Their SMB-oriented sales strategy has paid off, as Barracuda were able to make a number of acquisitions in the past two years. In 2007, they acquired NetContinuum, a Web application firewall company. Following that, they acquired BitLeap and Yosemite, which form the foundation of their cloud backup services, and now Purewire.
This blog post is a response to an article by Alex Williams on ReadWriteWeb. Thanks for the shout out, Alex, and for bringing more attention to the contentious issue of cloud computing definitions. While Forrester research reports are created exclusively for our clients, our definition is freely available:
A standardized IT capability (services, software, or infrastructure) delivered via Internet technologies in a pay-per-use, self-service way.
I attended McAfee’s analyst day at its FOCUS 09 Security Conference last week in Las Vegas. It was interesting to see former army general and Secretary of State General, Colin Powell, addressing an information security audience. He attended the same university as I did — City College of New York — so I especially enjoyed cheering on a fellow alum. His speech was very relevant to the security arena, as he discussed the danger of vulnerabilities within any information system and the critical need to safeguard against them. Of course, it fit very well with McAfee’s story, as McAfee CEO, Dave DeWalt did a good job continuing the military theme. However, I still left with feeling of wanting more — perhaps expecting McAfee leaders to say something more concrete about what it all means for them. Do they want to help with cybercrime, cybersecurity, and critical information protection? Will they be working more closely with government in information security initiatives?
(On a positive note, Colin Powell became an unexpected customer reference, as he mentioned recently licensing McAfee antivirus for his personal laptop.)
Along with many executive briefings I had with product managers and marketing folks, there were several highlights for me: