I've recently had several interesting discussions about one of the assessment criteria in the Forrester Vendor Positioning Review (VPR). A new VPR on IT Management Software Vendors should be out this time next week (it's been stuck in our Editing dept. for several weeks now.)
I noticed the press release about Computacenter assuming the role of vendor management for BP ( http://www.realwire.com/release_detail.asp?ReleaseID=14672) just before Christmas, but its impact eluded me at the time (too busy shopping for presents). But I was interviewing and researching Computacenter specifically this month for another reason and now I’ve spent more time to understand the true significance of the announcement.
It seems like a no brainer.Moving from paper-based medical charts to electronic health records (EHRs) will go a long way to improving the quality and reducing the costs of health care in the US. But it’s it been a tough sell, with only about 20% of doctors using even basic EHRs today. To move things along, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included an incentive program for doctors and hospitals that move to EHRs.
This is my first blog in 2010 but I cannot help reflecting about something that happened to me in 2009 - it left me thoughtful for most of the Christmas holiday which, for me as a European is over 2 weeks. In December I was discussing social media with 60-odd field marketing managers from around EMEA and we discussed customer reference programs and lead management among other things. While they clearly understood much of what I was saying to them, they equally clearly resented this one slide which is entitled: “The day in the life of modern marketer”.
Yesterday, Brad Holmes blogged about 2010 being the year where sales enablement moves from concept to reality. Yep, it's tempting to think that tech firms and their marketers have all been madly working to enable the sales organizations with fabulous sales-enabling digital media like video customer testimonials, blogs, tweets, Facebook pages, and, of course, the company Web site. But once in a while, you get reminded that some companies have a long way to go just to cover the basics, never mind get to what Brad called a "breakthrough."
Recent client interactions with a wide range of tech vendors leads me to believe that sales enablement will move from good idea and experimentation to real action in 2010. Of course that will be an uneven thing as leaders set the pace with big transformation efforts to align what sales and marketing do together (that is the operative word here, together) to center their activities around clients' business problems with all the organizational angst and habit breaking associated with such an undertaking, while others tackle smaller bites, like messaging and measurement changes. But to me, it feels like 2010 will be the year when we see real progress, exemplary cases, and hard evidence that tackling effective sales enablement does drive sales efficiency. Are you sensing the same thing?
So why now? I think in no small part it's because tech is maturing and so are the business people whose job success depends on it. So the two have begun to talk like adults about the business outcomes tech enables, not just the adjective-laden virtues of some engineering breakthrough. And those conversations are more meaty, grounded, and accountable; there is a solid transfer of value both in the discussion and in the outcomes from a transaction. Or there better be, else the buyer will drop the vendor like a stone. In a recent Forrester survey (we will publish this soon and will let you know how to find that data) of bus and IT folks involved in tech buying, 75% of the business people said they were involved in choosing or recommending vendors. More than half of those same business people said that their strategic vendors were the ones that understood their business and how to help them execute, and two thirds had a formal process to identify those vendors among their suppliers. You get the picture, cool tech is dead, business outcomes are a must.