Category Archives: Marketing
Last week IBM provided a glimpse into their next innovation in email. Code-named MailNext, it is now formally named Verse. This is the next evolution of Connections Cloud, their enterprise cloud suite of software.
Now, just a week later, IBM has announced plans to make Verse available to CONSUMERS for FREE!!!
This is unprecedented by IBM. First, this is the first time IBM has targeted consumers rather than businesses. Second, the price is right to attract users to experience the new concept in messaging. Free. A brilliant strategy to finally take an aggressive action toward marketing their product by first winning over their market as individuals and then as businesses.
Long ago Microsoft did this by including Outlook with every operating system. Consumers used that interface to use POP to access their personal email accounts. Familiarity at the consumer level made it easy for businesses to be persuaded to use it along with Exchange server for an enterprise messaging system. Then Google repeated this successful recipe to build a strong consumer base before diving into the enterprise messaging marketplace.
Now IBM is going to apply the same formula. Unlike Google however, IBM is not going to turn consumers directly into profit like Google does with their advertising and scanning of email. They will be targeting Businesses to provide the revenue.
The beauty of this formula is simple. Email is the software equivalent of a Gateway drug into the collaboration software market. And IBM intends to get you addicted to theirs. In this case, those hardcore drugs are IBM’s collaboration software suite: Connections (team, B2B and B2C tools for file sharing, activities, wikis, blogs, forums, surveys, & more); Sametime Instant Messaging, video, audio, web conferencing, and Notes & Domino. And IBM is taking the same approach as the State of Washington, making their gateway drug very accessible and affordable to everyone.
I have to wonder if this isn’t at least partially driven by IBM’s new partnership with Apple who has proven how successful consumer loyalty can be. Many of us who work with the IBM technology and understand how much more powerful it is than the competitive products have long blasted IBM for shunning the consumer market. I have often thought one of their biggest mistakes was separating the application designer tools from the Lotus Notes client which took away the power for end users to apply their own energy to create the custom applications they needed. At that point in time they disarmed their greatest allies and advocates of the software. It looks like the giant has finally awoken and recognizes the power that the individual has on the choice of software in the workplace. I am anxious to see what this new evolution will do for improving our productivity in the most widely used software category in the world. How do you think this will impact the landscape of the collaboration software market? Want to see for yourself? Pre-register here.
In August 2011 I posted an article giving a detailed analysis of the design of the IBM Passport Advantage website. That article received a great deal of attention, not only from the Lotus user community, but also from executives at IBM. I was even contacted by the person who oversaw the team responsible for the site. Finally, I thought, we would see some relief in our pain dealing with this website.
It’s nearly 2 years later. There have been some changes to the IBM websites, but Passport Advantage has had no significant changes. I’m here at IBM Connect 2013 to once again ask the question “When will you fix this website?” If you’re here, watch for it at “Ask the Product Managers” session. I will report the results later.
The times, they are a’changin’! In the shifting sands of technology, IBM is proving to be the Rock of Gibraltar.
CNN Money just conducted their annual survey of technology and investment experts to determine which 4 technology companies are the best investments in the industry. Apple, Amazon, Google, and IBM are what they describe as “The Four Horsemen of Tech”.
Microsoft and Dell are no longer on that list. And as recently as 2 years ago Research in Motion might have been expected on that list. The CNN article describes the changing of the guard is due to the shift from PCs to mobile and cloud solutions. I think it goes deeper than that.
Apple, Amazon, and Google are all following the same track that led Microsoft to its fame and glory days by riding the fast-but-fickle success opportunities provided by the consumer market. They are simply the latest fashion trends. In this list of top performers, IBM is the dark horse, being the only one not involved in consumer products whatsoever. They also just celebrated their 101st birthday this year. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Rides on the consumer wave are relatively short. Google is 16 years old, Amazon is 18 and Apple is 36, though Apple’s great surge came in the last 6 years starting with the introduction of iOS. For reference, RIM and Dell are 28 years old and Microsoft is 37 and they are already declining. They too, based their success heavily on consumer products and are now feeling the consequences. Yes, RIM’s BlackBerry is intended to be a business tool, but it is a consumer device first and foremost. It is considered even more personal than a personal computer (PC). One might argue that Microsoft also makes software for business, but their primary focus has always been on consumers and their foray into the business product market has depended on consumer-driven brand recognition. Also, because many of their products service both business and consumer needs, they are driven by consumer markets. (See RIM.)
Similarly, the focus that led 3 of the current Four Horsemen to their place in the lineup has a consumer emphasis: mobile devices and advertising. Apple’s iPhone and iPad redefined mobile. Google has Android devices and search (advertising). Amazon is into selling (and advertising) along with the Kindle for a mobile presence. All of them are also dabbling in cloud services for businesses. Then there is IBM, the seasoned veteran of business solutions. What makes them part of this leadership crowd? I isn’t just for their SmartCloud solution, I think it is the fact that they have stayed true to their earliest beginnings. Unlike all of the other players, IBM has focused their attention, with laser beam precision, on the proven stable base of the business market.: They provide business solutions for businesses. IBM has resisted the temptation to cross the line into the consumer market, even at the urging of experts and loyal customers who pushed to have Lotus Notes repackaged for consumers. Doing so in the short term would certainly win consumer approval and thus fend off the consumer-led push for the Microsoft Outlook mail client to be used at both work and home. But that would have forced IBM to chase the whim and fads of consumers rather than staying focused on long-term needs of businesses.
When it comes to technology, IBM is all business.
I predict we will see a rise and fall of all 3 of the consumer-driven horsemen in CNN’s list, replaced with 3 new ones as the what’s-hot list changes. I also predict that IBM, with it’s exclusive commitment to serving up business solutions, will continue to stand at or near the top as it has for decades. For consumer products, you shouldn’t care. But for your business, it matters.
Everyone is a salesperson. Understanding this one fact could have the biggest impact on your career advancement.
Whether you know it or not, whether you want to be one or not, you are a salesperson. Don’t think so? Ever had a job interview? You were selling yourself. You might find yourself in a meeting discussing a new project. You had to sell your idea or opinion. How about at home where you need to convince your partner the family needs a new car? Shoppers coming to visit your garage sale? Yes, even though your official title may never come close to salesperson, everyone finds themselves in situations of selling on a regular basis.
There are two books I particularly like that cover this subject: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini and Neuromarketing: Understanding the “Buy Buttons” in your Customer’s Brain by Patrick Renvoise and Christophe Morin. (Terrible title, but great book). These books combined have a wealth of insight. These books and slideshare on the topic will help you understand where executives are coming from and how to give them the information they need in a manner that will maximize your impact and value.
Impressive marketing: Not only can Microsoft get 750 million people around the world to pay for Microsoft Office, but they can get 300,000 students to proudly compete to show off their word processing skills at a worldwide certification test competition.
Meanwhile, it’s considered a big deal that 1 million people have downloaded Symphony, a free alternative. That is only 0.1% of the Windows PC market (I can’t speak for the other operating systems). P.T. Barnum clearly underestimated the birth rate of suckers. (or whoever said it)
If you are a Lotus professional, you could do a better job advising your management of their options. Save your company a few hundred thousand dollars and you’ll be a hero. Some companies have a cost reduction incentive program where you can get 10% of the first year’s savings. Unless you work at Microsoft, that’s a big chunk of change to leave on the table.
Some news is worth revisiting…
I am very curious to know how many of you have tried Symphony or Apache Open Office? If your company uses MS Office, do you know how much your company is spending on it? Have you presented the alternatives to your management? What was their response?
I have been extremely busy lately, spending much of my time working on preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification exam (which I passed on Friday!), taking a class on entrepreneurship and small business management, and working on applying this knowledge in a practical way, at the sacrifice of my blog and sleep. But I thought I would take a quick break from my break to drop a few links for my MacFriends and to illustrate just how much this region is just like everywhere else when it comes to computer preferences.
If you recall back in November 2010, I posted this article on the grand opening of Microsoft’s store here in town. Well Apple responded by moving their store to a much larger space and in a dominating position upstairs from the Microsoft store. The first picture in my article is actually taken from what is now the view from the front of the Apple store looking down on the Microsoft store. Check out these articles. I will get some photos posted sometime when I find time.
Now back to my studies.