"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)
Forrester has done quite a number of reports in the last two years around platform-as-a-service (PaaS) from the long-term strategy perspective from me and from the application developer perspective from my friend John R. Rymer. During this time, we saw many different business cases around PaaS. We have predicted and quantified that the major buying power of PaaS will come out of three camps:
ISVs are buying PaaS technology. This is a model that we saw with many ISVs on major platforms that managed to create a viable marketplace such as salesforce.com's AppExchange and Google's marketplace.
Corporate application developers are using PaaS to deploy custom apps and add-ons around SaaS applications. They are doing this significantly faster and at a lower TCO than before.
Avaya execs kicked off their sales and partner conference predictably — reviewing Avaya’s eight quarters of revenue growth, a shift of nearly a third of Avaya revenue to the channel in the last two years, and significant new product developments and introductions. The company’s focus on total solution results accruing to users (via Flare), to IT infrastructure owners (via Avaya Aura SIP-based architectures), and to Business Process owners (via Avaya ACE integration to business processes) allows partners and sales teams to have discussions with various buyers and influencers in the unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) market. This fits well with Avaya’s theme of “The Power of We” — not only do the solutions help customers work better collaboratively, but the partner programs aim to bring Avaya and its channels together to fulfill these needs. Kevin Kennedy stressed that the accelerating improvements in corporate results (revenue, margin, net promoter, and patents) are the result of many initiatives across the company —from product development to partner programs and beyond. One of his slides highlighted Avaya’s intention to deliver Faster collaborations that lead to Smarter decisions and Better business — Avaya is offering Faster, Better, Smarter to both channels and UC&C buyers.
Since this was a sales and channel conference, I took special note of the partners who sponsored and presented to the larger audience. I saw a clear representation of the broad opportunities and capabilities that demonstrate Avaya’s commitment delivering through channels to market — in short, the partners demonstrated that they value Avaya’s capabilities and transparency in going to market.
Two weeks ago, I used this blog to talk about videoconferencing solutions being deployed on portable platforms, namely tablets like the Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy. Every video vendor is rushing to offer a more portable video experience to extend the use cases they support and drive more value — and more business. Mobility is a key information worker characteristic that video vendors are rushing to satisfy, and announcements over the last 24 hours bring two more requirements into focus:
Usability. Yesterday (31 Oct., 2011), Dimension Data published a press release about their global, managed visual communications services. They stressed the need to educate employees about how and when to use video — and their ability to assure availability and reliability — to increase adoption and thus the value of videoconferencing within an enterprise. Dimension Data will likely leverage elements of their Adoption Management Program (AMP) to educate users and drive adoption, while relying on their deep capabilities in delivering managed interoperable services across the unified communications and collaboration market to deliver reliability.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of hosting a Technology Marketing Council Roundtable for a number of Austin, Texas-based members. Gathered around the table were VPs and senior technology marketers from AMD, IBM, Planview, OpenText, Socialware, Troux Technologies, and a soon to be renamed Austin Ventures startup.
Always with an eye toward seeking out relevant and thought-provoking ways to push the thinking of our members, I invited Art Markman, Ph.D., Annabel Irion Worsham Centennial Professor of Psychology and Marketing from the University of Austin, and Principal Advisor Tyler McDaniel from Forrester to talk about how companies can make themselves into a habit with their customers. While there were a number of great insights and peer conversation, I wanted to share my top two takeaways:
Takeaway No. 1: Getting Your Customers To Act Without Thinking. We all develop habits and rituals that become automatic and instinctive. The marketers in companies like Starbucks and Apple spend a lot of time and treasure examining these habits so that they can seamlessly embed their products and services into the lives of their customers. They’ve learned that utilization happens far easier when there’s instinctive action over contemplative thought.
The lesson for B2B tech marketers - it’s time to break our habit of building campaigns that tell customers to “think of us often” and design a new level of marketing that makes customers instinctively act without thinking. Through careful study (see next takeaway), it’s feasible to start laying down consistent, repetitive messages that over time will trigger customers to instinctively act on our products and services versus actually having to think about them.
Firms are expanding beyond basic applications, deploying line-of-business mobile applications to address the needs of specific workers including the sales force, help desk, supply chain, logistics, and inventory management personnel. A growing number of firms are using mobile application stores to distribute these apps. In fact, 35% of enterprise organizations currently use mobile app stores, up from 27% of firms in 2010 (see Figure below).
Mobile application stores gained momentum over the past few years as firms including Apple, BlackBerry, Nokia, and Google developed mobile application stores to deploy applications over their devices. Now application stores are evolving to include corporate mobile application stores. These corporate app stores help firms control employee access to applications and ensure consistent mobile application use across the organization. Results from our 2011 networks and telecommunications survey of IT decision-makers show that nearly 5% of enterprises currently use corporate mobile application stores to distribute mobile apps. These corporate app stores provide an easy way for employees to find and download corporate-approved apps for any officially supported operating system or device.
Mobile video solutions are riding a wave of demand from technology-centric information workers to help keep them connected in today’s geographically distributed, frenetically paced workplace. Many workers are bringing their own devices (and video communications applications) to work today. Resourceful information workers use video communications solutions that they have used in their consumer life to help them succeed at work. I have spoken to a bank that uses Skype on Internet-connected TVs to hold internal video meetings to reach executive consensus in the decision-making process, and to system integrators that use FaceTime to contact on-site teams to improve response time and communications clarity when resolving issues. Several Forrester clients have shared that they are uncomfortable using consumer video solutions for business purposes — citing the need for compliance and security. Video conferencing vendors have taken note and are working to ease adoption of their business-grade solutions — two recent examples leverage the popularity of tablets with technology-centric information workers.
Polycom and Vidyo have announced tablet-ready versions of their personal video portfolios recently — and their applications are available in the Android Market and Apple AppStore today. Avaya* and Cisco** have also launched tablet-powered video communications solutions. Both offer the option of delivering video on their own end point devices to optimize all forms of unified communications on a tablet. These solutions bring business-grade video conferencing to increasingly popular tablet platforms like the Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy — delivering slick, engaging video experiences as seen in this photo.
“If you think demand management and lead nurturing is just automating your process to create, track and passing leads over to sales — you’d be wrong.”
This is an edict from Kosten Metreweli, CMO of Zeus Technology*, during a presentation he gave to a group of CMOs and VPs of marketing in Forrester’s Technology Marketing Council regarding his approach to generating demand and lead nurturing. For those who don’t know Zeus — the organization is now part of Riverbed Technology and is a cloud-based elastic application solution that helps IT organizations deliver fast, secure, and scalable web applications with the economics of cloud (ex: BBC, Disney, and Domino’s Pizza).
Kosten acknowledges the importance of a solid marketing automation infrastructure, but emphasized that effective technology marketing professionals also need to:
· Take ownership for ALL revenues (yes, all)
· Have tight alignment with sales (not just the leadership)
· Study, define, and evangelize the target personas (don’t admire them just within your office)
· Map the content strategy to the funnel — from prospect — to deal — to customer success (oh, and by persona too)
It was only about a year ago when Larry Ellison was confusing the OpenWorld audience with the “cloud in a box” approach, and only a very few CIOs managed to turn a large Oracle landscape into a real private cloud based on an opex model to their business units. But a lot has changed since last year.