Building B2B Markets: One Entrepreneur at a Time

Last December I wrote about Building B2B Technology Markets, looking at how to penetrate a market with almost none of the traditional characteristics of a mature technology market? As technology vendors increasingly look to emerging markets as a significant opportunity and source of growth, this question becomes more pressing.  The report explored some of the elements of Cisco’s Country Transformation initiatives in order to identify steps in the process of building market infrastructure:

For example, the report looked at partnering with governments to encourage market-friendly policies and investment in the necessary technology infrastructure to support market development and overall economic growth.  And, from a sales perspective, trade associations provided an alternative channel to reach small and medium businesses in markets where distributors and resellers weren't available.  

But, another element critical to successful market development is the ecosystem of partners developing solutions specific to the particular market, or even just contributing local innovation for new approaches to broader global issues.   Building B2B Technology Markets discussed finding local organizations to act as partners in the market, and even investing in educational initiatives, but missed the next step of how to help create these new local ecosystem partners. 

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Can Open Office Escape From Under A Cloud?

Like many OpenOffice.org adopters, Forrester's enterprise clients are starting to wonder what's going on with the once-promising open source alternative to Microsoft Office. As one chief technology strategist posited last week: "Oracle has made several strong public pronouncements that their support for OpenOffice.org will continue abated. This, however, begs the question of the increasing functional and technical gap between standard programs like word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations and the new, all-encompassing view of the desktop being adopted by Microsoft in Office 2010. That being so, is there really any future for StarOffice/OpenOffice.org within the enterprise, except as an ever-shrinking niche to support basic, ultra low-cost office document capability on home-use platforms?"

Great question. After 10 years, Open Office hasn’t had much traction in the enterprise – supported by under 10% of firms, and today it’s facing more competition from online apps from Google and Zoho. I'm not counting OpenOffice completely out yet, however, since IBM has been making good progress on features with Symphony and Oracle is positioning Open Office for the web, desktop and mobile – a first. But barriers to Open Office and Web-based tools persist, and not just on a feature/function basis. Common barriers include:

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