By Peter O'Neill (with some comments by colleague Jonathan Penn)
I spent a couple of days with Symantec executives this week in Las Vegas, attending their Worldwide Analyst Summit as well as day 1 of the VISION user group conference. My interest in Symantec is partly based on my research in the service management market - they bought Altiris a few years ago; and also because I watch their partner program work. Anyway, here are my highlights of the briefings.
Symantec has a very subdued style of presenting to analysts, but for users it was all show business
The presentations to us started very gently and modestly. Instead of egoistical VPs showing slides and speaking down to us from the stage, they led with a panel discussion moderated by their major entertainer, Steve Morton, VP of Product Marketing. That was much more pleasant to listen to and the required points were still all made. Also the tone of the questions was often very self-critical (“now Symantec is not renowned for having integrated its acquisitions well, how are we doing on that front now?”) - a good idea. I am sure it was easy to work out what critical questions were going to come and pre-empt those discussions.
Now Steve is probably the reason they bought Altiris because the “keynote” session at VISION was a 90 minutes Tonight show with Steve performing more like Jay Leno than the man himself. Clearly very talented in this role, he was aptly supported by a band, videos and stage show. From his stage desk he hosted numerous guests on his couch in a humorous, chatty, and loosely-scripted format. Again, all the points were made without boring anybody.
Several of my recent client engagements have been about the social media skills/resources that will be required in field marketing in the next years. While this is something I am already working on with an empirical survey, that will take more time to complete, so watch this space for those details. Here are my initial thoughts, tested with several tech marketing practitioners already.
Firstly, my stake in the ground — I think Field Marketing’s focus will morph from customer acquisition to relationship management, from demand generation to demand management; it will be all about lead nurturing.
We’ll need to reduce our base of pure marketing professionals (events/marcom people), by automating and semi-centralizing (from country to regional level) marketing campaign management. And we’ll need to increase local resources to engage with local bloggers, communities, prospects, and customers. This will include a mix of hiring expert people (strong consultative sales reps looking for an easier time, experienced support people, current product champion field marketers) and leveraging local journalistic resources. More importantly, we will also need to re-engineer our collateral to a marketing asset library of shorter and more direct, but less hard-selling, pieces that we can leverage into the lead-nurturing programs.
I thought I would expand a little on my aside comment in last week's blog which was actually about HP. In the introduction to the blog I noted that we analysts seem to be abusing Twitter. I was so provocative that I named my colleagues “adolescent journalists” because they broadcast tweets ad verbatim as the HP speakers went through their presentations. I have noticed this has gotten progressively more (as far as I am concerned, worse and worse) over the last 12 months at various analyst retreats.
Many of these colleagues have responded to my blog and basically asked “What’s your problem with this?” Well, I certainly do not want to be seen as a “grumpy old man” (though I love those books) - ie. Someone who is not up to the times. While I am turning 54 years of age today, I think I do understand Twitter, and use it; and I think I can blog adequately as well. Then again, we analysts at Forrester have been well trained by our Marketing analyst colleagues who are at the forefront of all these developments. Our latest research on “Using Twitter for eBusiness” discusses how companies use Twitter but it doesn’t address the usage I am on about here. So, the issues I have with our just typing in every 140 characters of whatever the person on the stage is saying is as follows:
I spent a couple of days with HP executives this week here in Boston. As I worked there myself for 20 years (up to 2001, so I have distance as well), I’d like to comment about how their enterprise business strategy now looks. Of course, I wasn’t alone there; there were 250 of us. Those who follow my peers in Twitter may already be overloaded with multiple 140-character cuts: my impression is that the tool tends to makes them behave more like adolescent journalists than analysts. Often, they were broadcasting tweets before even noticing that a particular statement was “under NDA”. Vendors will learn to be more cautious in the future; which is not good for us analysts. Anyway, here are my highlights of the HP briefings.
HP’s Converged Infrastructure story includes the pending acquisition of 3COM
Nice to see that HP now has (servers + storage + networking) PLUS power & cooling! Now, HP has Cisco squarely within their sights with this one, dropping statements like “they’re just a $30B vendor while we spend over $50B in our supply chain”; “as soon as we can, we will replace ALL our Cisco gear with 3COM and realize 45% savings”; and “of course, all 3COM products use the same operating environment, unlike them”.
My Take: Well, Cisco started this. They are, indeed, seriously threatened. If HP apply their financial muscle and play the pricing game, Cisco’s business and margins may well suffer. Remember, networking is the highest margin area in IT infrastructure: HP is adding it, Cisco is diluting it. But, I also think that Cisco will make other game changing moves in the next months. HP strategists should not be resting on their laurels, they should be doing scenario planning - and thinking way outside the IT infrastructure box.
I met with two interesting marketing automation software vendors last week. As a patriot certainly, I like that there are these European companies with some very innovative ideas that will contribute to the success of both factory and field marketers in the tech industry. But it is also their innovation that I find interesting.
We've just published our latest Vendor Positioning Review (VPR) benchmark of the IT management software market. This vendor-oriented report discusses how vendors market their solutions to you in collateral and on their Web sites. We focus on how well they talk Business Technology (BT) over IT — how well do they speak YOUR language. And we recognize how important B2B digital media has become in communicating with you — our most recent data shows that the percent of technology buyers that are most advanced in using social media, what we call the Creators and Critics, is nearly double that of the US consumer population in general.
The VPR report highlights a best practice (or two) in each of the categories that we evaluate.
In terms of providing you with social media facilities, the vendors are a mixture of active, indifferent and inactive. The good ones offer you a community Web page from their Home Page to access forums, join communities (even if only a support community) and see their blogs: kudos to BMC, CA, ManageEngine, newScale, Spiceworks and Splunk. EMC, HP Software, IBM Tivoli, Microsoft, Nimsoft, Quest and Symantec have the facilities as well but you need to be good to find them (who would think of looking under “About Symantec”?). ASG and Compuware aren’t there yet.
Thanks to all of you who have already sent me feedback about my first report on the challenges facing field marketers. See report.
It was based several meetings with field marketers over the last months. My next step is to do structured interviews with field marketing professionals over the next months to even better understand where the job is going and map roles, tasks and responsibilities in a priorities listing in my next report.
I've recently had several interesting discussions about one of the assessment criteria in the Forrester Vendor Positioning Review (VPR). A new VPR on IT Management Software Vendors should be out this time next week (it's been stuck in our Editing dept. for several weeks now.)
I noticed the press release about Computacenter assuming the role of vendor management for BP ( http://www.realwire.com/release_detail.asp?ReleaseID=14672) just before Christmas, but its impact eluded me at the time (too busy shopping for presents). But I was interviewing and researching Computacenter specifically this month for another reason and now I’ve spent more time to understand the true significance of the announcement.
This is my first blog in 2010 but I cannot help reflecting about something that happened to me in 2009 - it left me thoughtful for most of the Christmas holiday which, for me as a European is over 2 weeks. In December I was discussing social media with 60-odd field marketing managers from around EMEA and we discussed customer reference programs and lead management among other things. While they clearly understood much of what I was saying to them, they equally clearly resented this one slide which is entitled: “The day in the life of modern marketer”.