Selling The Cloud

Many cloud computing services in the consumer space are per se for free. Even sophisticated platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments are coming from most vendors with a free sandbox environment and start charging finally the productive use. The obvious question I hear from many vendors today is how to monetize platforms and applications in the cloud. The situation for established ISVs of business applications can be even worse: The cloud might significantly cannibalize existing license revenue streams. Thus a transformation of existing business models and vendor strategy is anything but easy.

Addressing this challenge, I'd like to point you to a Forrester workshop Selling The Cloud” on 30th September in London.

The workshop will focus on a evaluating your “cloud readiness” and consequently help develop your cloud strategy through the use of a self assessment tool. This is a great opportunity to learn an effective method for improving the business results of any migration to a cloud-based service. You can actually predict which, if any, of your products will be successful in a cloud deployment.

The workshop will be hosted by Stefan Ried, Senior Analyst at Forrester and in case you’re interested, here’s a Web page with an agenda: View Workshop Details.

You can register right on the site or, if you’d like more information, you can contact an Event Sales Representative at +1 888/343-6786 or events@forrester.com

You can also simply leave a comment to this blog, asking any question to the event agenda and value.

Read more

Thought Leadership Requires Going Beyond The Innovators

Every office has a gadget fetishist. These people can be indicators of technologies that might be interesting, but they're not 100% reliable. It's in the nature of experimentation to make occasional hits (iPhones, Flip video cameras, GPS navigation devices, noise-canceling headphones that actually work) and frequent misses (USB-powered toothbrushes, Segways, most noise-canceling headphones, anything applied directly to the forehead). Not everyone wants to be an experimenter, or can afford to be one.

Consequently, gadgeteers – "innovators," in the terminology of people who study the diffusion of innovations – are always a very small minority of the population. Given their hit-or-miss track records, others treat innovators skeptically.

Why then do many technology vendors, in their quest to become thought leaders, market to a tiny minority of buyers that others in their organizations don't see as reliable guides to technology investments?

Social technology start-ups provide the most obvious examples of this strategy. Foursquare's Web site, for example, is clearly pitched at the social enthusiast, someone who takes the value of giving "you & your friends new ways of exploring your city." The site's main page provides links to Foursquare apps written for the iPhone, BlackBerry, and other mobile devices, assuming that having Foursquare on your phone might be a good idea. Being a thought leader in location-based social networking, in Foursquare's case, means marketing to the tiny population of people willing to dive head-first into its service, figuring out its value as they go. If Foursquare, as a thought leader in social technology, is ahead of the market, there's always a population of social networking enthusiasts willing to experiment with them.

Read more

Would We Know A Thought Leader If We Saw One?

In the technology industry, we use the term thought leader far too loosely. This mistake is not just semantic, since technology vendors want to use thought leadership to achieve business results.

Big vendors like IBM, SAP, and Microsoft want you to believe that they are thought leaders, in spite of their size and age. Yes, we may bestride the world like a colossus, but, when need be, we can pick up our feet and run in the direction that the market is headed. Small vendors have the opposite problem. Sure, they may be nimble, and they may have Big New Ideas that anticipate the future of their markets. But can you rely on them to execute? And no matter how good your ideas might be, how do you get anyone to pay attention to them if no one has heard of you before?

If you're not convincing, you're not a thought leader. Therefore, thought leadership must be superior to the unconvincing claims that appear on vendor Web sites, where practically everyone claims to be the leading company in blahblahblah. (If everyone's a leader, then who are the followers?) Inserting the word thought into these elevator pitches doesn't convert them into magical words of power.

Read more

Shoveling Ideas Into The Requirements Engine

[Another interesting finding about the requirements tool market, from research by Yours Truly and Mary Gerush. For other observations about this very interesting market, click here and here.] 

As organizations improve their requirements practices, and as the requirements tool vendors adapt in response, the front end of the requirements process is getting a disproportionate amount of attention. Many requirements defects start early, with the information that you feed into the requirements-generating machine. For example, if you don't have a clue how criminal investigators work, you're going to make basic mistakes in feature prioritization and design when you build a case management system for them. 

And it's not just the information that has fallen under suspicion. A lot of people are equally worried about the other raw material, ideas, that you feed into this machinery. Here are a few commonly cited concerns:

Read more

Forrester's Cloud Computing Taxonomy

We just published a new report entitled "The Evolution Of Cloud Computing Markets". It recaps many of the cloud computing market observations from the last two years and categorizes the business models in a consistent taxonomy. Basically all current offerings from pure Infrastructure as a Service, in the upper left, via virtualization tools up to SaaS applications can be categorized by this. We explain the key characteristics of each business model and give vendors guidance to position and communicate their cloud service.

Forrester's Cloud Computing Taxonomy

Beyond the preview on this blog, the full document predicts the future market momentum around:

Read more

Product Marketing: From Explanation To Innovation

Congratulations, product marketers: You've been a critical part of the innovation process.

Sorry to break it to you, product marketers: On average, technology vendors stink at the phase of innovation where you play the biggest part.

Translating The Nouns But Not The Verbs
By no means are product marketers per se to blame for this outcome. Until recently, the technology industry has been slow to realize how innovation works. Vendors tacitly assumed that there were two separate processes at work, one that brought new products and services to market and another that convinced people to buy and use them.

At the boundary between product management and product marketing (as clearly as you can draw one), a hand-off occurred where one process ended and another began. The hand-off created predictable problems, in the same fashion as phone companies that assign one team for turning off phone service at your old location and a second team for turning it on at your new one.

One of the most painful consequences is fragmented, incomplete, and inaccurate information about a topic of interest to everyone: adoption. Every person in a tech company depends on some understanding of the who, what, why, when, and how of adoption, from the engineer who builds the technology, to the marketer who describes it to a general audience, to the salesperson who tries to persuade specific people to buy it. With rare exceptions, the engineer, marketer, and salesperson do not share the same mental image.

Learning about customers is hard, and everyone has deadlines to meet. Meanwhile, engineers, marketers, and salespeople can achieve a gestalt on a different topic: the technology's capabilities. For product marketers, product-centric marketing content is a natural result.

Read more

Informatica's Cloud Service Is Flying Under The Radar Especially For European Customers

Informatica is one of the traditional leaders when it comes to data quality and data integration. More than 4,000 customers trust Informatica's software products globally and drive more than half a billion dollars in revenue. Informatica solves many of the traditional data integration challenges, for example, between custom developed apps and packaged ERP solutions. As a result, IT operations professionals and enterprise architects are well aware of Informatica’s solutions. However, what has gone under the radar so far is Informatica's cloud computing approach. For about two years now, Informatica has provided www.informaticacloud.com, a cloud-based integration offering, for customers. Informatica recently announced a new version of this service, and Forrester had the chance to talk to the vendor prior to the launch. The new solution offers an improved service for data quality, B2B data transformations, and a number of continuous improvements. But what really caught my attention is Informatica's well-kept secret of a sophisticated agent technology.

Back-office managers and European customers have ignored the message — until now

Read more

When Requirements Failures Become Epic Fails

By now, the arguments for improving product requirements are very familiar – all too familiar. Bad requirements lead to misconceived projects, many of which fail outright. The survivors can waste frightening quantities of time, effort, and money. (And if you've been unlucky enough to be part of one, you don't want to repeat the experience.) In technology companies, even the best requirements are no barrier against failure: insights into what kinds of problems customers face, how the company's products and services can help address them, and why they'd consider getting the vendor's help remained siloed in the requirements, never reaching other people in the company – sales, marketing, support, etc. – who deal directly with customers and partners.

Nonetheless, it wasn't until relatively recently that the market for requirements tools expanded and diversified, as described in my previous post. Many organizations had the same attitude toward requirements that most of us share about regular visits to the dentist: We understand the clear, direct benefits of changing our behavior, but we'd rather not make the effort. Clearly, something changed in the last few years to increase the general interest in adopting better requirements hygiene.

In fact, many things changed, all pointing in the same general direction. Not every potential requirements tool adopter experienced the same new pressures, so you won't be able to identify a single, iconic tale. Instead, the history of the requirements tool market is more of an anthology of stories that have the same moral: the business consequences of bad requirements are no longer tolerable.

Read more