There continues to be a cacophony of marketing noise from technology vendors about their cloud strategies; while the announcements sometimes include messaging for their channel, many partners are still unsure of their future role in the industry. Nearly two years ago, Tim Harmon and I (Peter O'Neill here) published two reports on this, and earlier this year the Cloud and Technology Transformation Alliance (CCTA) reported that its survey of 229 channel partners in North America revealed that 13% of the partners still lack a cloud strategy altogether and 42% describe their strategy as “nascent” or “evolving.” CCTA also collected the alarming statistic that 65% of channel partners know that they’re losing business because of their cloud shortcomings; that is, the partners know that their customers are asking for cloud services but cannot react.
Peter O'Neill here. I hope that most of you would agree that mastering customer experience is just as valuable for B2B firms as it is in B2C. And yet, there isn’t much information around on B2B customer experience, let alone case studies providing practical advice on how to get B2B customer experience right. Well, at Forrester’s upcoming EMEA Forum dedicated to Customer Experience (London, November 6-7), I am hosting a “virtual track” of four sessions that debunks myths about customer experience for B2B companies. In one of the presentations, Jesper Thomsen, VP Sales & Customer Experience, Maersk Line, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, will discuss how his company improved its Net Promoter score from -10 to +30 over 30 months – an improvement program that involved staff throughout the enterprise. I recently caught up with Jesper in preparation for his session – for a sneak peak on how Maersk mastered B2B customer experience, check out our conversation below. I hope to see you in London where Jesper will share the full story!
Welcome back to us all from vacation. I, Peter O'Neill, would like to join the discussion on “What is marketing?” ignited by an HBR article a few weeks ago — if only because of the reaction to my last blog post, where I pleaded for HP marketing to do something about its worsening brand standards. That post hit a nerve, generating several urgent inquiries with B2B marketers. A few clever journalists even wrote articles afterwards that combined comments on HP’s business prospects from Steve Milunovich, investment analyst at UBS, with my point of view, as an industry analyst, about HP’s lack of marketing agility.
While most responses were statements of violent agreement, one point was frequently made: “Which marketing group should be stepping in to stem the tide?” Another was: “Yes, but does that brand stuff matter? We are still selling our kit to customers — they don’t seem worried.” I like to keep things simple, so, for me, there are just two disciplines in B2B marketing:
· Brand marketing. Often called “corporate marketing” or even “marcom,” this discipline is responsible for the marketing of brand values; running centralized marketing processes such as customer/market intelligence and public/analyst/blogger relations; and perhaps managing social media services, such as listening and content management.
What is going on at HP? Or rather, what is not happening at that company? Ex HP- marketer Peter O’Neill here with some observations.
I am sure you’ve all consumed the numerous stories about HP over the last 18 months: CEOs being fired and hired in an almost show-business fashion; a board not paying enough attention; business strategy speculation (is the PC business in or out? – imagine this, for a while, the PC business unit actually ran ads arguing against their CEO’s plan!); multiple tablet announcements, and withdrawals; plus a long list of failed, mistimed, or simply stupid acquisitions. Clearly, many journalists, who are not technology market experts, now see HP as being run incompetently.
Last week, Peter O'Neill here, I had the pleasure of going to Marseille and contributing to Dell’s first EMEA-wide PartnerDirect Marketing Advisory Council. I led a session entitled “Leave Your Competitors Behind With Better Marketing Campaigns,” where I proved that vendor-centric fulfillment marketing models no longer work in today’s market because the modern empowered buyer now controls when and how information is found and consumed.
The battle among tech vendor marketers to configure their programs and content accordingly has now really heated up. The very same trend is about to hit the channel as well — there are too many companies in the tech channel, so only those that market well and appear compelling to buyers will prevail.
I enjoyed discussing content management, the buyer’s journey, and digital marketing tactics with the 30-odd marketing professionals in the audience in Marseille. But even these marketing pros admitted that they still need ammunition to argue for more resources with their own executives, so I hope that the material I provided will be useful in that respect. Feel free to drop me a line if you would like a copy of the presentation as well.
As promised, here is Peter O’Neill with my thirdregular blog where I highlight something important for you that has or is about to happen in Germany. My colleague Andrew Bartels has just published his European ICT Market 2012 to 2013 report so I’ll take the chance to augment his prognosis on the German ICT market by adding some local color. Andy’s report is, as usual, excellent reading, runs to more than 40 pages, and is based upon our own buyer intention surveys plus government and vendor reports. Germany is the largest ICT market in Europe, estimated by Andy at 86.6 billion € for 2012. This puts Germany at 18% of the total Western and Central European number and 14% of the Europe, Middle East, and Africa total (EMEA) — a much more common regional division for tech vendors.
Andy reports that the German tech market is growing at 1.6% in 2012, which is in the more positive league of European markets together with the Nordics, Central Europe, Switzerland, and Austria — many other country markets are shrinking or “experiencing negative growth” as some people like to say.
Brand marketing was a focus of our Marketing Leadership Forum in Los Angeles, where Chris Stutzman talked about brand building in the 21st century (see video). His examples were primarily B2C, but he also cited IBM and Adobe: two tech vendors that have rightly earned respect for their brand marketing. But to be honest, for the rest of us, brand marketing is less about raising the bar and more about getting out of our limbo position (think about that).
Those of you who know me (Peter O’Neill) know that I’ve lived in Germany for 30 years. So, I am posting a regular blog – probably bimonthly – where I highlight something important for you that has or is about to happen in Germany. We’ll start with a history lesson. In 1972, the last Apollo moon mission was launched, Germany won the European Championship (soccer), and five consultants and developers left IBM Germany to start their own company called Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung GbR. They wrote financial accounting software for the local Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) factory, which incorporated the then-revolutionary idea of using terminals and keyboards for data entry and reporting instead of the more common punch-hole cards. This made their software appear to work in “real time,” so they called it R/1. Now, 40 eventful years later, SAP is undoubtedly one of the most important technology vendors in the industry and still doing very well, thank you.
So, happy birthday SAP! As someone who was part of the early HP team that partnered with you to market R/3 on HP-UX back in the 1980s, and now work with numerous SAP marketing professionals in my current capacity, I enjoy the success you are having.
Peter O'Neill here. As well as working the end of our fiscal quarter (yes, we analysts must also meet targets), I’ve been busy in the past few weeks getting ready for our upcoming Marketing Forum, where I am co-presenting a session on the rising importance of the customer retention and expansion phase with my colleague Tim Harmon. A Forrester Forum always presents me with a dilemma: I’d like to have as many client one-on-one sessions as possible — it’s always great to meet people that I often only know from the telephone — but then again, I’d also like to enjoy and learn from the other presentations at the conference.
I (Peter O'Neill here again) had the pleasure of visiting Twickenham rugby stadium in London last week – sadly, not on the Saturday to watch my national team beat England but on the following Monday to meet Dell executives and hear about their Enterprise Spring Launch of new products and services. As I listened to the speeches about new servers, storage, networking, and end-to-end applications, I kept thinking to myself how difficult it is these days to sound different from other infrastructure vendors who do the same thing - and often with the same technologies. I remember making those same speeches over 15 years ago and it was difficult enough then! My colleague Richard Fichera has commented on the product details, so I’d like to review the most important one, for me: Dell’s solution program. As far as I am concerned, only those IT infrastructure vendors who market at the business technology level will enjoy success in the future – and that means solutions marketing with commitment.