You Need A Website For Your Start-Up, Not Your Product

The always incisive and effervescent April Dunford has a great post at her blog Rocket Watcher about the reasons why your start-up needs a website, before you have a product to talk about. I couldn't agree more, for the following reasons:

  • Customers are buying your business model, not just your product. Your product is one source of value to potential customers, but not the only one. A good case in point: the many SaaS start-ups that attracted a lot of initial attention, then quickly lost their users to competitive products. If there's more to keeping your customers than just the product, you'd better start communicating those other sources of value.
  • You need the opportunity to test your marketing. You won't get the communication right the first time, so market testing before the moment when you release the product is critical. Who wants to slave over a great new invention, only to discover that your marketing sucks?
  • You need early product feedback. All new products are based on a set of assumptions, some of which will be wrong. You can use your website to understand your potential customers better through the website. If there's something wrong with your personas, use cases, or any other guiding principles of prioritization and design, identify the problems now, unless you really enjoy re-engineering.

StrateTalk No. 3: Mark Foster, Group Chief Executive – Global Markets And Management Consulting, Accenture

StrateTalks (Strategy Talks) are summaries of my in-person exchanges with leaders at service and solution providers.

[05/13/10] It was 6:30 a.m. on Thursday morning when I checked out of the hotel and headed to Prudential Tower, where Accenture’s Boston office is located.

On the way there, I saw Mark Foster walking in front of me.

Mark joined Accenture in 1983 and has been the group chief executive for Accenture’s management consulting growth platform (technology and business process outsourcing [BPO] represent the two other growth platforms at Accenture) since 2006. However, Mark not only oversees the management consulting business but is also responsible for the growth, differentiation, and innovation agenda for Accenture overall.

He was also the person I was scheduled to meet at 7:00 a.m. to discuss Accenture’s strategy for innovating itself. Over the course of several meetings with executives of the management consulting leadership team, I identified some interesting ongoing initiatives intended to drive Accenture’s differentiation. I’d been wondering if these initiatives were just brewing in isolation or were really part of an overall strategy. This was the reason I needed to talk with Mark.

I called out to Mark; he turned around and greeted me. Together, we walked to the Prudential Tower, passed security, and took the elevator up to the Accenture floor.

What interests me about Accenture, besides the obvious facts around strategy, service portfolio, and go-to-market approach, is its culture — the true source for innovation and differentiation for any company. Accenture’s culture is in my opinion very consistent. If you talk to a consultant, manager, or an executive such as Mark, all reflect this open and collaborative culture.

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StrateTalk No. 2: Amy Quigley, VP Of Marketing, Continuum

StrateTalks (Strategy Talks) are summaries of my in-person exchanges with leaders at service and solution providers.

[05/11/10] After a long, but interesting, briefing with a service provider on its green IT and sustainability consulting services portfolio at our Cambridge, Mass., office, I jumped in a cab to Harvard Square.

I then met with Amy Quigley, VP of marketing at Continuum, an interesting firm. Why? More on that later. Amy has been with the company for about two years now. Prior to Continuum, she was in leading marketing roles at other firms, including Molecular and ATG.

What is Continuum? This was the overarching question I had had in my mind since contacting Amy about having this more philosophical-flavored chat.

Continuum’s Web site notes that it is an innovation and design consultancy. According to Amy, Continuum has three domains of expertise: brand, design, and strategy. I’m primarily interested in Continuum’s strategy approach, which is truly different. The firm leverages primarily design and creativity, rather than analytical, tools to help clients with their strategy. Some call this approach “design thinking”.

However, I do not like this term, and Amy agreed that it does not perfectly capture how Continuum attempts to position itself at executive levels. This is also one of the reasons why her company is currently undertaking a major repositioning effort. Amy shared some of the company’s early slides with me, and I agreed that the company is going in the right direction; for example, the firm is merging its areas of expertise and is creating research communities focused on business opportunities.

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StrateTalk No. 1: Kevin Bolen, Partner, Innosight

StrateTalks (Strategy Talks) are summaries of my in-person exchanges with leaders at service and solution providers.

[05/11/10] It was a sunny Tuesday morning in Cambridge, Mass., when I met with Kevin Bolen, who is one of the eight partners of Innosight. Before joining Innosight in 2007, Kevin was the chief marketing officer (CMO) of Lionbridge Technologies.

It’s been a while since our last chat and I was eager to get an update from Kevin on Innosight’s business and his perspective on the innovation consulting landscape.

As with most of the innovation consulting services specialist firms, Innosight was born through the innovation of a new paradigm/model. In this case: disruptive innovation, introduced by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. He founded Innosight with Mark Johnson in 2000.

Ten years later, the firm employs about 50 people and is a publication machine. Why? At Innosight, partners/directors aren’t the only employees publishing articles and books such as Mark’s latest book, Seizing the Whitespace: Business Model Innovation for Growth and Renewal; even analysts (who are entry level at Innosight) are eligible to write.

For more than a year the firm has focused in particular on business model innovation (BMI) in publications and client engagements. BMI is certainly one of those buzz words that is slowly starting to annoy me. Why? All examples mentioned in this context are just a handful and always the same. Certainly, innovating a business model is as easy as grabbing an “Apple” from a tree.

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SAPPHIRE NOW 2010 – The Quest For Innovation

 

 

 

The Name

This year SAPPHIRE officially changed its name and became SAPPHIRE NOW. Why? Different answers from different people. Those that should know said: "The new name stresses the urgency." Urgency for whom, SAP? And will the next SAPPHIRE be named SAPPHIRE THEN? Never change a successful brand.

The Event

Another premiere for SAPPHIRE was the simultaneous show in Orlando, US and Frankfurt, Germany. With 5,000 attendees in Frankfurt, 10,500 in Orlando and 35,000 online participants, this was the biggest SAPPHIRE event ever. I must admit I was concerned going to Frankfurt while everyone in Walldorf desperately tried to escape to Orlando. Who wants to attend a second-hand event? But now I’m a believer. SAP managed to balance the important parts of the show between Orlando and Frankfurt. Keynotes were held simultaneously in both locations via virtual video connection and speakers in both cities. In general I never had the feeling I would miss anything important in Frankfurt simply because it was the smaller event overall. It didn’t make a difference if I couldn’t attend another 400 presentations in Frankfurt or 800 in Orlando from the total of 1,200+ presentations – I had a packed agenda and got all that I expected and needed, including 1:1 meetings with SAP executives like Jim Snabe. The simultaneous, virtual set-up not only helped to save a lot of cost, it created a sense of a bigger virtual community and underlined SAP’s ambitions for more sustainability. To all that traveled intercontinental: Shame on you, next year stay in your home region!

The Stars

Like every show SAPPHIRE 2010 had its stars as well:

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Forthcoming Report On The Future Of The IT Services Market

A combination of factors is combining to reshape and recast the IT services sector. These factors include the continued weak economic environment, the further development of a global delivery model (GDM), new uses of technology across clients’ go-to-market and supply chain ecosystems, the adoption of cloud and SaaS utility-based pricing and delivery models as well as the adoption of a selective sourcing model by buyers. Forrester asserts that these changes will have a dramatic impact on the make-up and dynamics of the IT services business just as the shift to PCs dramatically changed the minicomputer/hardware market in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Over the past several weeks my colleague John McCarthy and I have conducted extensive research around the future of the IT services market which forms the basis of our forthcoming major research report to be published in June 2010. We talked to approximately 20 of the leading vendor strategists from both leading service provider organizations as well as other key market players like ISVs, SaaS providers and communication services firms. We now offer interested vendor strategists the unique opportunity to hear from us what the major outcome of the research was and what key implications and recommendations they draw for vendor strategists. For this we have designed a workshop format that will deal with the following key questions:

  • Will the emergence of cloud and SaaS impact the traditional IT services market?
  • When and how will that impact play out?
  • How will the economic slowdown and declining IT budgets impact users’ services spending?
  • What are the key attributes for success in the new services market?

If you are interested in such a workshop (either in person or via web conference) please let us know and we will be happy to schedule according to your needs.