$2 billion. That's billion with a "B". That's a lot of money. That is also what Aaron Levie's Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year company, Box Inc., is being valued at today. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Box has said it recieved a fresh round of $125 million in investment, with $100 million of that money coming from a single private equity firm. Also according to the article, Box is expecting to close out 2013 with approximately $100 million in revenue, giving the company a 20x multiple. The numbers are certainly impressive, but is this a bubble or are we seeing a fundamental shift in how businesses of the future will operate, thus justifying the big dollar signs?
A recent article in Forbes stated the following: "Taking a cue from the Dot-com bubble’s playbook, investors have resorted to valuing today’s profitless tech companies on a price-to-sales ratio basis, yet even this metric shows that Twitter’s valuation is quite overvalued at 22 times its expected 2014 sales, which is approximately double the multiple carried by Facebook and LinkedIn (which have high multiples in their own right)."
This is our final post to the Tech Marketing (TM) role blog, but we are not going away! We have consolidated the number of professional roles you can choose as your home page at Forrester.com, but we have not reduced the scope of challenges we can help you solve to be successful in your job. Posts from analysts whose research you find valuable will still appear on their individual blogs, as well as the role blogs with which their ongoing work is now associated.
The analysts who were aligned to the Tech Marketing role are now aligned to one of two other roles.
Sales Enablement: At Forrester, we work with leaders taking action across marketing, sales, channel, and other functions to orchestrate a higher return on the spending and activity that their companies invest in growing B2B revenues. To them, Sales Enablement (SE) means both revenue enablement and salesperson enablement. Given the broad scope of our clients’ professional challenges, current Tech Marketing analysts Lori Wizdo, Peter O’Neill, Tim Harmon, and Jon Silber have joined the SE role team because their research and advice about optimizing your investments in leads and the end-to-end lead management process and optimizing channel and partner routes to market all maps to the SE Role definition and scope. You will find their posts, both past and future, at the SE role blog.
I help hundreds of technology buyers each year to understand the impact of technology changes on their software contracts, but I also get questions from software providers about how best to price their products. Some are bringing new products to market and want to know how to maximize revenue, while others are struggling with obsolete metrics such as per processor and want to update their pricing for the modern mobile, cloudy world. The answer is usually to find licensing metrics that make their pricing value-based while balancing simplicity and fairness. The more value a customer gets from your product, the more they should be willing to pay for it. If you make your pricing too simple then you won't match value sufficiently closely, which will cause you to price yourself out of some deals and leave money on the table in others. If, OTOH, you try to match value too precisely you risk making your pricing so complicated that buyers will reject it, and you, completely.
For example, suppose you have a product that will help people do their jobs better, so you decide that charging for each user will be a good approximation for value. The potential problem is that not everyone will use your product the same, in terms of depth of functionality and/ or frequency of access. Your single per user price will be unfair to companies with long tails of light, infrequent users, for whom you'll therefore be too expensive. Conversely your pricing will be unfair to you when the customer is mostly power users. To make your pricing fairer you could have different prices for different categories of user, but then you risk being criticized for being too complex.
Marketers and strategists at tech vendors who sell tablets won’t want to miss a webinar co-hosted by Simon Yates and me this Friday, September 28th. Aimed at a CIO audience, our webinar leverages a great deal of data from Forrsights and Tech Marketing Navigator on the opportunity for tablets, how to engage enterprise tablet buyers, on the effects of bring-your-own (BYO), and other, related topics. Tech marketers and strategists won’t want to miss our presentation: You'll gain insights into the challenges tablets present for CIOs, and you'll also see hard data on both the opportunity for selling tablets and on how best to engage potential buyers.
When: Friday, September 28, 2012, 1:00 p.m. -- 2:00 p.m. Eastern time (17:00--18:00 GMT)
Overview: It’s safe to say that the early adopters of Apple’s iPad didn’t go out and buy the device because they wanted a new gadget for work. They purchased the iPad because of what they could do in their everyday lives. But it didn’t take long for employees to bring their iPads to the office. If we mark the modern tablet era by Apple’s 2010 iPad launch, then an astounding 84 million iPads and as many as 120 million tablets in total have flown off the shelves. Forrester’s global workforce and decision-maker surveys and client conversations show just how fast tablets are being adopted:
I’ve spent the past two days with about 2,000 new friends. Polycom’s annual sales conference provided a drumbeat of messages about what is to come from the vendor. As Kate Hutchison, Polycom’s chief marketing officer, talked about the future, you could feel the certainty of an organization that has set its mind to a task. I sensed a certain swagger from everyone with whom I interacted that echoed Kate’s desire to see the company push the limits of human collaboration at work. CEO Andy Miller left no doubt that the company was committed, describing the unalterable market forces that have shaped his vision for the company and letting everyone in the room know that he intended to assemble a rogue’s gallery of industry goliaths to drive Polycom forward — inviting Dreamworks, HP, IBM, and Microsoft to contribute to his keynote address to hammer home this point. Sue Hayden, VP of global alliances and programs, has been charged with making this so — and, based on my conversations with her about companies from Apple to Motorola to Siemens, she will.
Polycom is committed to five things moving forward: being easier to work with, being easier to use, being more innovative, assembling more complete business solutions, and pursuing the business models their customers prefer. The values that Polycom put forth include:
Being easier to do business with. Polycom is simplifying the process for buyers — working to make ordering products and services easier. There is now a tool for systems managers to enable zero-touch configuration. The company’s commitment to channels and end users was on display all week.
Cloud, technology populism, video, and integrated solutions were in evidence throughout the show. Here is what I learned or conformed at Enterprise Connect 2012:
Cloud is happening. Buyer interest is and has been up, service providers are investing, and OEMs are enabling. At the show, SPs from 8x8 and M5 (now part of ShoreTel) to AT&T and Verizon were demoing capabilities. SIs, including well-known names from BlacBox to Presidio to HP, were talking about cloud too. Many OEM vendors did not discuss the channel implications made obvious by SI and SP discussion of cloud services — although NEC made ease of doing business for the channel one of the tenets of its cloud discussion. If I were a solution vendor, I would spend more time discussing where my solutions could be purchased and the role for my sales force, since buyers who attend Enterprise Connect in droves want to know where and how they can buy cloud solutions.
The real story here is consumerization or technology populism. Personal cloud services have enabled information workers to be a decision AND buying center for all types of communications and collaboration. Although we talk about smartphones and tablets in discussing technology populism, unified communications and fixed mobile convergence were the examples on display at this show. Buyers (including information workers and traditional technology managers) today need to know how to integrate Box, Google Docs, SalesForce, and other services into their business processes that depend on communications.
Avaya announced its intention and agreement to purchase Radvision today. These two technological powerhouses have the combined brainpower to put together some of the most advanced unified communications solutions in the world. Radvision’s experience in building complex modular communication components plus Avaya’s strength in delivering complete, reliable communications solutions is an appealing combination. The strengths of this combination include:
Breadth of open technologies. Radvision’s H.323 and SIP stacks will combine neatly with Avaya’s Aura architecture to enable a wide range of interoperable communications solutions from varying vendors built on multiple old and new technologies.
Video portfolio. Radvision’s Scopia videoconferencing portfolio (from desktop to telepresence) extends Avaya’s current partner-driven video endpoint model.
The cloud. Radvision’s service provider relationships gives Avaya a firmer footing from which to sell cloud solutions to service providers.
Issues that management will have to deal with in the combined company:
Cultural fit. Avaya’s consensus-driven and collaborative culture may not provide the direction Radvision’s developers got used to within Radvision’s traditional command and control structure.
Revenue growth. Radvision has been on a slide. The Avaya/Radvision combination will have to open new markets and increase win rates to pay back the $230 million purchase price — approximately three times Radvision’s annual revenue.
IBM, as always, put on a really big show at Lotusphere this year. More than 5,000 attendees from all walks of IT and business came together to find out how IBM could help them execute their business strategies — and IBM promised to help them make their business social, and thus more personal and effective. Every IBM executive that I heard present or spoke with had one thing in mind: how to help customers evolve the culture of business from one where employees hoard information and rely on their own ability to solve problems to get themselves and their firm ahead to one where sharing information and insight enables better decision-making and better customer service.
Over two and a half days, I talked to (or heard presentations from) dozens of companies leveraging social technologies to accelerate their business, including:
A global management consulting firm that is using an internal social platform to enable project teams to find and engage process and industry experts for client work — rather than having staffing managers rely on their personal networks — and which plans to extend that platform to support document creation and client delivery processes.
A snack food company that created a public social platform to engage competitors in a process to eliminate a threat to raw material supply across their industry — rather than working on their own to solve the problem for their supply chain only.
A retail bank that uses an internal social platform to optimize routing of customer inquiries to banking products experts located at other branches or central sites — rather than relying on branch personnel who may not know the answer or promising to respond to the customer later.
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.