It’s a well-established fact that social media is every bit as – if not more – influential for business decision-makers (B2B) as it is for consumers (B2C); Forrester clients can read more here. And SMBs are the most prolific of all business-size segments in utilizing social media and online communities to inform their technology purchase decisions. So where are SMBs turning to for that information? Where can you check the pulse of SMBs’ thinking?
Continuing my musings about the impact of cloud on our industry (see last week’s blog), I’m in the middle of a cloud project where we are identifying and profiling potential channel partners for an ISV that is about to launch a systems management product for cloud environments. I must say, I’m surprised by the number of channel partners already talking about cloud.
It reminds me of a conversation with staff at Nimsoft, a company recently acquired by CA, about how they were promoting their cloud offerings. My personal view is that Nimsoft managed to complete their exit strategy so quickly and successfully because they focused all of their new product announcements and general positioning toward the cloud. Coincidentally, CA had decided to turn up the heat on its own cloud campaign and promptly bought three technology companies to strengthen the cloud offering and show their commitment — Nimsoft, Cassat, and 3Tera.
While Cassat and 3Tera were cloud-specific solutions, Nimsoft was already successful as a provider of systems monitoring software to enterprises and managed service providers. My theory is that their cloud image was the result of a considered repositioning exercise that culminated in their placement on CA’s wish list. Here’s another example: Yesterday, Adobe announced its intention to acquire Day Software, the Swiss content management ISV. Day Software had a consistent ECM business with modest growth, but I notice that they turned up the cloud messaging over the last months — I suspect this is what got them into Adobe’s sights.
Why is it so hard to execute on a business strategy? While it may seem easy to identify the roadblocks to execution, it’s often even easier to overlook the most important dynamic of all — people. Think about it: Most business strategies look great on paper. They’re well-thought-out and well-articulated. But what is written on paper requires execution — and that’s where people come in.
I’ve found that sales enablement initiatives often fall into the same boat. These strategies are often well-crafted, cross-functional in design, and cover all aspects of process, technology, and metrics. But no matter how you slice it, people are required to execute them.
Our client’s choice survey this month focuses squarely on the people dynamic. As we’ve engaged with Technology Sales Enablement professionals, we’ve found some recurring themes around sales coaching, sales management, and the profiles of salespeople. So please take a moment and weigh in, and we’ll write up some research that targets the area that receives the most responses.
This week, I was at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., and it was all about THE CLOUD. Now, many colleagues argue that Microsoft will be the second-to-last major vendor to show a 100% cloud commitment, saying that “it’s too embedded in its traditional software business,” “it doesn’t understand the new world,” and “it’d be scared of cannibalizing existing and predictable maintenance revenues.” But I remember Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft Business Systems, tell me with a mischievous grin that he’ll probably earn more money from Exchange Online than the on-premise version — “firstly, it’s mainly new business from other platforms like Lotus Notes, and second, I even generate revenues by charging for things like the data center buildings, the infrastructure, even the electricity I use.” That was in Berlin last November. I suspected then that Microsoft did get it but was just getting its platform ready. This week, I am convinced — Microsoft is “all in,” as they say.
And at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, it was driving its partners to the cloud as aggressively as any vendor has ever talked to its partners at such an event. All of the Microsoft executives preached a consistent mantra: “MOVE to the cloud, or you may not be around in five years.”
Microsoft’s cloud-based Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) is already being promoted by 16,000 partners that either get referral incentives for Microsoft-billed BPOS fees or bundle it into their own offerings (mainly telcos). There are nearly 5,000 certified Azure-ready partners. This week, Microsoft turned up the heat with these announcements:
Last week, in addition to presenting at my quarterly Forrester Teleconference, I spoke at a Webinar hosted by the IT Services Marketing Association (ITSMA). I was in illustrious company: David Edelman, partner for the marketing and sales practice at McKinsey; John Lenzen, VP and global head of marketing at TCS; plus our host, Richard Seymour, managing director at ITSMA EMEA. We talked about the emerging organization model and competencies for marketing organizations in the tech industry.
Richard opened with this really interesting data slide, which shows that service providers are actually reducing their marketing spend in a dramatic fashion (see below).
Our recent survey confirms the 2010 increase in marketing budgets and reveals much more about how service provider marketing differs from other industries (see this report). Richard then listed some of the challenges that marketing is facing and postulated that “marketing has to change.”
David talked about the impact of the digital marketing challenge and discussed four critical questions that marketers should be asking themselves:
Last week, I held my quarterly Forrester Teleconference and discussed my April report on how European tech buyers use social media. Usually, we Europeans are asked to speak twice in the day - once at a convenient time for European audiences and once for our clients in North America. Unusually for an analyst, I hate repeating myself. So I elected to present the European slot in German and present specifically about Germany. This was, I think, a first for Forrester. Of course, we also leveraged the opportunity to get a few prospects listening in and even had several journalists collecting information. Now, not every Forrester analyst can present in German, so don’t expect all of us to do this, but the fact is: We actually have more German-speaking analysts than that other research company.
Our B2B Social Technographics data shows that German social media activity is really quite heavy: In some categories, the numbers we report show more aggressive behavior than in the US or other countries. After several client meetings where our data was questioned - especially by more experienced marketing executives who themselves are not using social media and expect the same backwardness from their peers - I am now well equipped with backup data that proves our points. So here is what I told the audience about German social media usage by tech buyers: