Understanding the priorities of fellow tech marketers is a great way to tune one’s own 2012 initiatives. Over the past two months, my Forrester Technology Council colleagues and I have spent quite a bit of time surveying and talking with members (~ 50 tech CMO’s and VP’s of Marketing) about their priorities for 2012. Before the champagne pops up here in Boston, I wanted to share a few of the priorities my colleagues and I are hearing most about for 2012:
Demand management wins out across the board. In years past, the top priority for our tech marketing members centered around "driving leads into the funnel." In 2012, tech marketing execs still care about driving leads, but there is an increased desire to trade lead volume for better lead quality. Quality that comes from strong nurturing activities to help leads move from the top of funnel into the middle and ultimately into a position where they are "sales-ready." A vocal number of members expressed commitment to building a more comprehensive demand management process where they would balance their lead nurturing and lead generation initiatives appropriately.
Brand/rebranding comes into vogue. Many of our members have put brand and/or rebranding at the top of their lists for 2012. The need to create greater market differentiation against competitors and to build market awareness in new markets (e.g. verticals, geographies) were cited as the top reasons for steering funds, resources and time in brand or rebranding initiatives.
Cloud is the latest buzz in the IT market, and we at Forrester have covered this quite extensively. As I reflect on 2011, this is a theme that has also played prominently in many collaboration vendor discussions — because it is a fundamentally better business model to deliver collaboration technology to users. Faster version cycle times, simplified management of deployed software, reduced TCO of a shared pool of cloud resources, and serving information workers directly are just some of the varied benefits for users, buyers, and vendors. The direct connection to end users is a key to accelerating adoption in the collaboration and growing social markets.
At their Collaboration Summit, Cisco affirmed their commitment to delivering cloud services. They described Cisco WebEx (web conferencing and meeting) and Cisco CallWay (video conferencing) as part of the Cisco Collaboration Cloud — and having used both of these, I can say with certainty that they are usable, simple, and appealing.
I believe that Cisco’s secret to success will be their robust channels approach. Richard McLeod, senior director handling worldwide channels for collaboration sales, runs programs for traditional channel partners helping to install and run collaboration solutions on premise. Others at Cisco, such as Amanda Jobbins, VP global partner marketing, spend a lot of their time thinking about service providers as channels and how Cisco can help them succeed. These leaders look for products Cisco has designed to deliver collaboration capable clouds — and is working to advance the adoption of them — for example:
Cisco VideoScape — a new video networking solution allowing combinations of video and collaboration content from multiple sources and to be delivered to multiple endpoints.
Being based out of Dubai and so close to all the action, I was so anxious to start digging in and talking to tech vendors to get their reactions on what's happening in the region. In my latest report I decided to answer a question that's been on everybody's mind: "What’s happening to the IT market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the midst of the recent political unrest, the Arab Spring?" While it's not easy to answer the question as demonstrations are still happening and elections are still pending the report presents a snapshot of the current state of the IT market in MENA.
Following the Arab Spring, Forrester revised downward its IT spending forecasts by more than 2% for the MENA region in 2011. Many distributors were stuck with large PC inventories or had delivered inventory to their clients and have yet to receive payments. A lot of public sector projects were also put on hold as national governments were shaken by the recent political events. As a result, vendors in the region have reallocated some their resources currently located in heavily affected countries, e.g., Egypt, Libya, and Syria, to countries that need more attention, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Many vendors are also taking a more regional approach and are expanding their presence from their base countries into the rest of MENA.
"Branding & rebranding" is rising fast on the list of priorities for tech marketers in 2012.
Over the past few months, my colleagues and I in the Tech Marketing Council have been engaging in a rising number of client discussions around the topic of “brand.” These conversations with our CMO and VP of marketing clients have come in a few different flavors:
Branding for Emerging Firms. Small, but not startup, vendors seeking to create better brand position and differentiation to take on the established sector players. (e.g., David and Goliath)
Rebrand for Maturing Firms. Midsize growing tech companies ($250M+) with designs on being the next $1B+ firm in their sector. (e.g., “Good to Great”)
Post M&A Brand Integration. Both emerging and large tech firms are working to integrate newly acquired companies, personnel and products. (e.g., House of Many Brands)