Category Archives: Marketing

What do Apple, Twitter and Facebook all have in common?


appletwitterfacebook                    linkedin

IBM is doing some interesting things to blur the line between consumer and business computing and the pace they are moving at has accelerated like a Mad Max roadster on nitro.  In the past year they have joined forces with Twitter, Facebook, and most notably, Apple.  The partnerships all bring together complimentary products and services. The venture with Apple, in particular, is worth paying attention to. Apple has virtually no formal enterprise solutions, yet they still dominate the business world with mobile devices. IBM on the other hand, has MobileFirst, their set of mobile solutions for business.  Meanwhile, IBM  has no mobile or desktop hardware and OS, so it must rely on other vendors to provide that foundation. Combining the solutions from Apple and IBM makes for a compelling case against against Microsoft and Google. The one partnership that seems to be missing is LinkedIn.

Add to these partnerships with consumer-focused companies, IBM is doing some consumer focus of its own. They have just released IBM Verse, a new online email application intended to compete with the likes of Hotmail and Gmail, at least to get consumer adoption, with the intentions that it will become the first choice for business too.  While Verse is in the early stages, a steady stream of features are being added on a weekly or monthly basis.
All of these signs lead me to believe that after all these years of analysts and business partners urging and pleading, IBM finally recognizes that it needs to win the consumer first in order to win the business.
They have stepped up their marketing efforts at the same time, which is a treat for business partners.  Who knew that for several years now IBM has posted the largest revenue of  cloud services? (even over Amazon Web Services)
Yes, they still have work to do in marketing their web services.  Often I give demonstrations of IBM Connections Cloud, an ecosystem of software services comparable to Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Work, and I always get several people in the group asking “Why are they keeping this a secret?”

One final step IBM is taking is in making their solutions more attractive to small business, not just enterprise-scale organizations. Their solutions make a powerful case for businesses of all sizes now. I think the next year is going to be game-changing for IBM.  The surveys from 3 years ago are actually proving out.  IBM is proving why it was named one of the Four Horsemen of technology companies.

IBM partners with Twitter
IBM partners with Facebook
IBM expands partnership with Apple

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IBM’s next generation cloud email solution is coming to CONSUMERS for FREE!


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.

Domino Developer Needed (closed)


Posting removed.  Thanks for all the great candidates!

Putting Social Media to the test: Face-to-face vs. Online


Which delivery method do you think has the greatest impact: Face-to-face, telephone, or online? Certainly face-to-face allows you to deliver the most personal message, but the web allows for a much broader reach. Phone calls are somewhere in between. So here is the challenge…

I am a firm believer in charity. I feel it is important to give back to the community. Over the years I have been helping with the YMCA Partners With Youth (PWY) campaign.  This fund provides scholarships to families in need so their kids can participate in activities like swimming lessons, summer camp, or after school care. We get to help kids of single parents, parents who have lost their jobs, or many other financially stressful conditions. I know of one kid in particular who was quite a truant, always getting into trouble and usually dragging his friends into it too. One year, thanks to the PWY program, he was able to attend a leadership summer camp. Not only did it get him off the streets, but it brought out his natural leadership abilities. He ended up becoming a camp counselor and a positive influence on many more kids. It’s all about paying it forward.

In years past, during the month of February, I have spent my Wednesday evenings in a conference room at the Seattle Times building across the street from the Northshore YMCA  with dozens of other volunteers making calls to friends, family, past donors and even complete strangers, asking if they would like to donate. We work as teams of about 10 people each, in a friendly competition to see which team can raise the most pledge money. The room is filled with energy as everyone makes campaign calls from their cell phones. Honestly, this is tough work. Very few people feel comfortable making cold calls to strangers and asking for money. I will admit, as outgoing as I am, this is especially difficult for me. I can stand in front of an audience of 1000 people to give a presentation, but it’s all I can do to make these phone calls knowing most people will reject you and some will be downright rude. I found myself at times hoping no one would answer the phone.

So this year I’m trying a different approach. It’s time to put social media to the test to see if I can reach more people in a more comfortable way and make a bigger impact for the kids via my online presence than I would making phone calls. I think this will work well because there is no pressure. People can take their time to think about it, they can give as much or as little as they want. If you would like to help, please visit the donations page for details.  If you don’t want to donate, but you would still like to help, please share my message with your online connections so others will hear it and possibly donate.

It’s the power of small contributions by many people. I donated $100 myself. For some people, $10 is all they can afford to give. Others donate $500 or more. But even if it’s only $1, that’s fantastic. It moves us a step closer to the goal. Many employers will match your gift, effectively doubling your donation. Many people opt for the monthly draft contribution method so they can painlessly turn a small donation, like $5/month for 10 months, into a big donation of $50. (If that is something you want to do, just send me an email at habz2000-pwy@yahoo.com and I can have the YMCA staff will set that up with you. The donor website can’t handle that type of payment.)

So please take a moment to check out my donation page at the YMCA website, read more about how this campaign has helped change kids’ lives, and make a pledge and/or share the link on your favorite social media website.

-Cheers!

How IBM is raising the stakes with Social Business right in Microsoft’s back yard.


IBM is coming to Seattle to talk about Social Business!
See the event schedule. The event is March 5.

Did I have anything to do with this?  Not that I’m aware of.  But I am glad to see IBM finally recognize the Seattle area market is tired of having no options besides Microsoft to choose from.  Like everywhere else, businesses here like innovation and they like competition.

So from the makers of Watson, the computer that beat the champions on Jeopardy! and the perennial leader in new patents awarded, comes the innovation of Social Business.  This is a game changer in business communications technology much like email, Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing have been.  IBM has the first and only legitimate offering in this new market.  IBM recognizes their leadership in this market and is making it a point to let the world know:
– What is Social Business
– How businesses are using social technologies to drive business value: reduce costs, accelerate communications, increase collaboration inside and outside the organization
– A path for integrating Social Business into your existing systems, regardless of what brand it is and regardless of the size of your company.

Did I mention IBM is doing this in only 3 locations in the United States and one of those places is Seattle, Washington?
If you work with a team or company of more than about 5 people, it is worth your time to see what they are doing.
Read more about what will be presented.
This will also be an opportunity to network with peers and discuss with others how Social Business has transformed their companies.  The ROI comes quickly and the metrics are compelling.  If you can’t attend in person you will miss out on the networking with everyone else, but they also have a session available online.  Be sure to register.

Passport Advantage Revisited 2 years later…


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.

SmartCloud leads IBM to dethrone Microsoft on CNN’s “Four Horsemen of Tech” list


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.

Slideshare: 5 Tips for presenting to Executives


Everyone is a salesperson. Understanding this one fact could have the biggest impact on your career advancement.

Check out this article and short slideshare presentation on presenting to executives.

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.

I think I.T. professionals are particularly challenged by this.  We are accustomed to working with computers.  They are predictable.  As Spock would say, “pure logic”.  So dealing with the unpredictable nature of people can be frustrating.  If you fit this description, set your Javascript manual down for a few weeks and pick up a book on marketing.  You might be surprised that there is actually logic to the concepts.

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.

A critical lesson in customer service, connections and social media


First, if you need help with a printer and you live in the Seattle area, I highly recommend the services of Infinity Communications.  Ask for Mark.

But this story isn’t about printers, that’s just where it all starts.  I have an old HP Laserjet 4000 printer.  The manufactured date is April 15, 1998.  A classic.  It’s 44 pounds of metal and only 1 pound of plastic.  Definitely Old School.  I in inherited it along with an extra toner cartridge refill several years ago when our office was getting rid of it to replace it with a fancy new multi-function printer.

It has served me well, but recently the sheet feeder started jamming.  The printer only worked if I fed paper one page at a time into the manual tray.  I decided to get rid of this old laser printer along with my color inkjet printer and a flatbed scanner and replace them with a modern all-in-one printer from Costco.  This new machine is great.  It scans, prints color photos, makes copies, send faxes via the Internet, and even allows me to print from anywhere via facebook.  Not to mention all the desk space it freed up.

On Monday, less than three months since I bought it, it ran out of black ink.  That same day, as if they already knew I would need it, I got an email from Costco advertising their printer cartridge refill service for about $10.  (Perhaps the printer has a feature to alert Costco when the toner is low.  It is certainly capable of it and if Target can predict you are pregnant by your buying habits, then Costco could certainly be monitoring printer alerts.)

I got it refilled, but I also thought back on that old laser printer sitting by the door, waiting to be disposed of properly.  It was such a workhorse.  It should be good for a few more years of printing at least, if only the automatic sheet feeder worked.

But like I said, this story isn’t about printers.  It’s about people.  It’s about customer service, connections and social media.

I decided to call around and see what it would cost to get it repaired.  I consulted the great oracle, Google, who guided me to a long list of companies in my area that service printers.  The first one I called answered promptly.  The woman at the other end was helpful and knowledgeable.  When I mentioned what printer I had, she replied “ah yes, that is considered the old workhorse of printers!  There are many still in service today.”  She went on to explain the cost for repair is $25 for the visit (they come to you) plus $75/hour.  It should take under 1 hour.  And I may want to get the maintenance kit which is $300 parts and labor.  That would be about $400 total.  “Hmmm.  Let me call you back on that”,  I said.

After a few more calls with people reporting similar pricing, I called the listing for a company named Infinity Communications, located just 2 miles from my place.  A guy answered the phone and I explained to him my situation.  “Oh yeah, that’s a great printer.  That’s what I use for all my personal heavy-duty printing.  I service several law offices that use that one and they all have over 100,000 pages.  You can get over 10,000 prints from one toner cartridge.  So here’s the deal:  You can bring it in to me and I’ll charge you $95/hr plus parts.  If it has over 100,000 prints since its last service, you might need the maintenance kit too.  But that’s pretty pricey.  You know, it’s probably something as simple as pulling the two rubber rollers out and washing them with a damp wash cloth.  If you pull out the paper tray and look inside there…”  Over the next 5 minutes he talked me through how to remove the rollers.  Incredibly simple.  I cleaned them up and ran a test print while he was on the phone.  Voila’!  I have a working printer again!  “So look on that test print page”, he says.  “How many prints since last maintenance?”  I read it to him “1410”.  He asks “And what is the total page count?”  I reply “One four one zero.”  He asks “You mean one hundred forty thousand?”  “No, one thousand four hundred and ten.”  “Wow” he says.  “That’s like a brand new printer! You’ll be using that for a long, long time.”  Yep.  he’s right.  I will also be coming to him for all my printer service needs in the future and I will tell all my friends about him.

So to all my readers, his name is Mark Ungacta and his company is Infinity Communications here in Woodinville, WA.
We chatted on the phone for a bit more and I promised him a beer for his help.  By coincidence he happens to know someone who owns a brewery nearby…

The difference between what those others did and what Mark did meant the difference between getting no business and getting a beer, a loyal customer, and potentially many more customers than just the one calling.

The lessons:
1.  Customer service is all about doing more than you have to.  In the end, more likely than not, the dividends will more than make up for it.
2.  Social media provides individuals with a much stronger influence than in the past.  Be keenly aware of that as you make choices. In this instance I’m hoping this blog post drives new business Mark’s way.
3.  Take the time to listen to the people you meet.  You never know where those connections will lead you.

Do you have a similar success story?  Please share it.

Footnote: if you have this printer, you can get the maintenance kit and detailed instructions at http://www.precisionroller.com/instructions/hp-4000-4050-maintenance-kit-instructions/

Microsoft Office annual certification test competition draws 300,000 students?


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…

Microsoft Office Alternatives: Productivity Software Showdown

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?

Apple Dominates In Seattle With 81% Mobile Market Share


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.

Apple iOS Dominates Even In Seattle With 81% Market Share For Mobile Web Browsing

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.

Apple to move Apple Store Bellevue Square, double its size, cast shadow over Microsoft’s copycat store

Apple Digs at Microsoft With Bellevue Store Relocation

Now back to my studies.

Cheers,
-David, PMP

IBM and ESPN 3: Using social media to tell the world what they mean by “Let’s build a smarter planet.”


You’ve heard me ask “What does IBM sell?”  Sure, *I* know what they sell.  But my point is: what do they do to make sure the average consumer knows?
Well, on this idle Saturday afternoon, while watching my Gators on ESPN 3 crush UAB, *BAM*, there it was – A smarter planet ad on ESPN 3 with a twist: it ended with a URL: http://www.youtube.com/ibm
What’s the big deal?  First, IBM is talking to consumers.  That’s right, beer-drinking, college football-watching average America.  Second, this is ESPN 3.  In other words, the webcast version of ESPN.  So anyone watching that ad is already sitting at their computer.  I don’t know about smarter planet, but certainly smarter advertising.  So I went to check it out.  On my other monitor, of course.

What did I find there?  The first video was their 30-minute story: “IBM Centennial Film: They Were There – People who changed the way the world works”.  On the new youtube, you can have longer videos than the old 10-minute limit.  Of course, that doesn’t change the fact the the average attention span is somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes and the average time spent on a web page is 1 minute.  That was one of the driving reasons for the 10 minute limit in the first place.  The cool thing about youtube is that everyone can see the results.  It shows how many viewings each video gets.  So we will get to see just how successful the videos are.

The good news:  This video includes IBM founder Tom Watson’s answer to my question.  Retired IBMer Fred Brooks tells the story of how Thomas Watson Sr. used to go into the lab and ask some young engineer: “What do we sell?”
And the young man would say “punch cards sir.”
“NO, NO!” Watson replied.  “We sell a service that satisfies.”

Now the bad news:  This answer comes at 28:52 minutes into a 30:41 minute video.

But this video isn’t about what IBM sells anyway.  It’s about their past.  A good production, but wouldn’t it be more effective to lead with a short ad that builds on the *BAM* that the original ad made on ESPN 3?  Something that teases with a bit more details on what IBM has to offer today and how they will take MY company into the future and give ME an advantage over my competition?  To make ME a leader in a smarter planet?  End it with the viewer wanting to know more.  Make it a two minute video to fill those dead zone commercial breaks that don’t show anything for web viewers.  Just say:

Visit http://www.youtube.com/ibm the next time you see this:

ESPN 3

My compliments to IBM digital marketing.  (Maria, is this your doing?)  Now take it to the next level.

The video ends with the words of another IBMer: “You’ve got to stay alert and you’ve got to be nimble on your feet.  You’ve got to recognize that what was true yesterday will not be true tomorrow in terms of technology.”

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