Author Archive

Writing Stuff or Content Marketing?

Posted: April 14, 2015 by Agnes Lamont in Marketing topics

The difference between a hoarder and a collector is organization. The same holds true for the distinction between collateral creation and content marketing. Creating and posting piles of “stuff” online is not the same thing as cultivating and engaging an audience as a trusted expert and thought leader.

Having a strong content marketing strategy can improve the effectiveness of inbound marketing through all buying phases, from awareness through purchase, and increase overall brand equity. Answering the following questions should help guide your strategy successfully:

1. Who is my audience?
2. What can I offer that will interest my audience?
3. Does my offering tie back to the products/services I sell?
4. What is my brand voice/personality?
5. How will I distribute the content I create?

Having the answers helps bound what you should be creating, align content with your overall marketing and business objectives, and helps you manage a realistic delivery plan.

Sure, you may know a great deal about a range of subjects, but by focusing on a specific area, you can build credibility and provide meaningful value to an audience that is truly interested. Research what is of interest to the folks in your target audience. Do you have expertise to fill in knowledge gaps, answer questions, and offer guidance? Do you have controversial thoughts and ideas? Whether your content creation takes the form of videos, blogs, white papers, guides or whatnot, you should aim to create content that provides valuable insight and useful tools for your audience around your chosen topic. Every piece of content you produce should be of high quality and very relevant to your audience. That is what helps credential you as a trusted source and builds equity in your brand.

About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

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Back to back acquisitions are adding to the excitement in the Flash arena. As Pure Storage pulled in another $150M in Series E funding and EMC was putting the finishing touches to its VNX2 with an all-Flash option complete with controller and software enhancements, even bigger Flash news was brewing.

Western Digital/HGST announced acquisition of PCIe Flash and software company, Virident, for $685 million on September 9. This is the third Flash acquisition the company has made in recent months. After acquiring SSD veteran, sTec, for $340 million, WD/HGST apparently beat Seagate to the punch in acquiring cache company, VeloBit, for an undisclosed sum. Seagate, along with Cisco, was also an investor in Virident.

On September 10, Cisco announced that it will purchase Flash array vendor, WhipTail, for $415 million. Undoubtedly there are folks out there humming along to the tune of the “Hokey Pokey” and wondering how serious Cisco is about storage as it expands its Unified Computing System.

It’s appears that the ability to aggregate, manage and manipulate Flash through software is a good place to be as the market moves towards consolidation.

Fusion-io and Violin will certainly be under increased scrutiny as the industry-wide game of musical chairs progresses. Will Seagate ever manage to snag a Flash chair? What shall we see at Oracle Open World in a few weeks?

About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, security, cloud and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

FIDO - making fast work of secure online data access.

FIDO – making fast work of secure online data access.

Have you ever given up on reading an article or buying something online because you forgot one of your many passwords? If password management stymies you, then join me in the small joyful anticipation that comes with the news that BlackBerry has joined the FIDO Alliance.

Fast IDentity Online (FIDO) looks like the best hope on the horizon for securing online access to data. Mind you, it’s looking like a pretty far horizon. The FIDO Alliance was formed over a year ago by Agnitio, Infineon Technologies, Lenovo, Nok Nok Labs, PayPal, and Validity. FIDO’s noble aim is to change the nature of authentication by developing specifications that define an open, scalable, interoperable set of mechanisms that supplant reliance on passwords to securely authenticate users of online services. This new standard for security devices and browser plugins will allow any website or cloud application to interface with a broad variety of existing and future FIDO-enabled devices that the user has for online security. I, for one, can’t wait!

FIDO is expanding membership and, in addition to BlackBerry, has added Allweb Technologies, Check2Protect, Crocus Technology, CrucialTec, Diamond Fortress Technologies, Entersekt, Fingerprint Cards (FPC), Google, Insyndia Global and NXP Semiconductors.

As data security becomes an ever more pressing concern for users and IT pros alike, storage vendors would do well to delve deeper than encryption when adding security innovation. Consider how a tight coupling of authenticated users and access devices with underlying storage could transform the cloud market. A while back, SNIA had a storage security tutorial that talked about trusted platform modules in storage devices. That seems like a likely connection point with FIDO.

Maybe it’s the canine association (Fido is a dog’s name after all) that makes me optimistic, but I really hope that the FIDO Alliance gets the support it needs to quickly come up with a globally beneficial standard that will make all of our online data more securely accessible.

FIDO Alliance: http://fidoalliance.org/

About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, security, and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

You never know what lurks in those piles of paper in the office. Today, I excavated an old Gartner report entitled “Cool Vendors in Data Protection, 2006.” To refresh your memory, this was the heyday of disk-based backup and nothing was cooler than Continuous Data Protection (CDP). Overcome with nostalgia for heated debates about “true CDP” and recovery granularity held in bars at SNIA conferences during that era, I just had to read this old gem.

Seven years after the coronation of the six cool vendors, only one remains. The other five must have made big bucks, right? After all, Gartner knows best and cool surely pays…..

  • Asempra Technologies sold its assets to Bakbone (acquired by Quest, in turn acquired by Dell) for a reported $2M in 2009.
  • Mendocino Software faded away quietly in 2008.
  • Mimosa Systems was acquired by Iron Mountain in a deal valued at $211M in 2010. Since then, it has been passed through to Autonomy and thence to HP.
  • Revivio’s IP was picked up by Symantec in 2006.
  • XOsoft was purchased by CA in 2006 and rumor at the time suggested that the return was good.
  • Asigra remains as the lone standing vendor of the group, having adapted its offering and message to grasp the opportunities presented by Cloud. Closing the circle, CRN thinks Asigra is still cool, naming them one of the 20 Coolest Cloud Storage Vendors for 2013.

Check back in another 7 years!

 About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, security, and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

Living and working in the Silicon Valley as I do, it’s almost inevitable that I meet with a lot of active and aspiring entrepreneurs. On the whole, the early company founders tend to be engineers whose passions drive them to create proofs of concept for their ideas. If the late nights don’t do them in, an embryonic company is formed. Marketers tends not to be added until such time as the product progresses into something feasible and there’s a little money in the bank to launch, communicate and promote what’s on offer. Generally we don’t see this until VCs are involved.

For a lot of early entrepreneurs, raising money is the next hurdle once the prototype is looking good. This is definitely a lot easier for those who are independently wealthy or blessed with a network of supportive, talented friends who’ve cashed out of their last company to EMC, Cisco, etc., but are too young to retire. Aptly- named angel investors supply an alternative.

Although the Silicon Valley is rife with tales of Venture Capitalists and IPOs, less is understood about angel investors, even though they have helped the likes of Google and Apple get their start. A great resource for tracking angel activity is the Halo Report, which is published by The Angel Resource Institute, Silicon Valley Bank and CB Insights. Here are a few quick facts:

  • The majority of angel investment activity is concentrated in California and New England.
  • Internet and healthcare-related ventures accounted for approximately half of all angel investments in 2012.
  • Angel investment rounds are averaging around $1-$1.2M.*
  • Pre-Series A valuations for companies with angel investments average around $2.6M.

*I think this number is a bit skewed towards group angel and “superangel” investors, as many individual angel investments are sub-$200,000, as recorded anecdotally.

 Angel investors are often seasoned entrepreneurs themselves, so can bring passion, expertise and support beyond what you might ordinarily expect from a later stage investor. They tend to be savvy to the fact that failure rates for early start ups are high (about 50%), but are willing to invest across several companies and/or limit their activities to an area of personal expertise (e.g. storage management software, but not hardware) to mitigate their risks, absorb losses and still achieve expected overall investment returns of 2.5X.

Check out:

Angel Resource Institute – www.angelresourceinstitute.org

Returns to Angel Investors in Groups by Robert Wiltbank, Ph.D. and Warren Boeker Ph. D. – http://sites.kauffman.org/pdf/angel_groups_111207.pdf

About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, security, and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

Like kids squabbling over a bag of candy, disagreement over resource and budget control seems inevitable between sales and marketing. Sure, there are instances where politics, greed, and ambition fuel the tension between these groups, but I think that’s the exception rather than the rule. In my experience, both groups typically share the same goals and aspirations and genuinely want to work together amicably, albeit on their terms.

After many years working with sales and marketing across sectors including storage, data management, and security, I’ve come to the conclusion that, fundamentally, sales and marketing executives are wired differently. In a pre-technology era, I reckon they would have been hunters and farmers respectively. Sales executives tend to be high-energy optimists with a temporal focus on the short-term: this year; this quarter; even this deal. Like hunters, they can hyper-focus on their target, track it, and set up the perfectly-timed kill-shot. They can net a lot of protein and feed the corporate family as long as they have a ready supply of potential prey.

Marketing executives, like farmers, play a long game with planned diversity. They are the analytical planners, the visionaries who work diligently day after day to grow their crops. Good farmers know their soil and seasons, read the weather, prepare the ground, plant the seeds when conditions are right and nurture them daily. They stagger the plantings, thin the seedlings and cultivate them until they are ripe for harvest. They rotate the crops and make the soil richer year after year.

The hunters and the farmers are equally valuable and effective in feeding their community, but their methods and philosophies are fundamentally different. The same is true of sales and marketing in our modern, technologically-enabled corporate world. It’s understandable that sales typically favor events, turnkey sales appointment setting services, and blitz campaigns to drive leads. Marketers are more likely to analyze costs and likely outcomes and favor continuous, evolutionary campaigns that generate leads from multiple sources, based on multiple value propositions, and nurture them throughout a cycle that allows for education, evaluation and the vagaries of budgetary discretion until the qualified leads are ready to be harvested. Communications are consistent and sustainable.

Next time you’re caught in the crossfire between sales and marketing vying for budget dollars and competing demand generation plans, I hope this little analogy will help you value both approaches and clarify the results you need and how to prioritize and support the activities that are most beneficial for your organization. Like the kids with the candy, the outcome ought not be decided based on who screams loudest!

About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, security, and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

We’ve all been duly awed by the Dell buyout announcement. Over the years, the company has amassed quite a portfolio of storage and data protection and management offerings, having acquired companies such as EqualLogic, Compellent, Quest, AppAssure and SonicWall. Although many of these acquisitions brought robust technology and contributed handily to Dell’s revenue, the company never made the transition to becoming a storage company. This begs the question as to what will now happen to these lines as Dell sharpens its focus and remakes itself into a seller of products rather than an architect of share valuations. Only the most naïve amongst us harbors any ideas that the latest chapter in Dell’s story might lead to storage innovation and a bid for leadership in the space.

Only 3% of Dell’s revenue is from storage, with software and peripherals yielding 16%, of which data protection software is a part. The overall business distribution is more even with 30% of net revenue coming from large enterprise, 20% from consumer and 25% each from SMB and public sector organizations.

Anecdotally, Dell does not exercise the kind of account control as players such as EMC, IBM, Oracle, or Cisco.

HP has not been shy in making generalized predatory rumblings about picking over Dell’s portfolio, and I suspect Dell is a subject of strategic debate in many more functional boardrooms too. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall over at EMC and NetApp? These storage giants, along with the myriad of smaller storage and data protection vendors, are no doubt strategizing furiously about how to woo customers and key talent away.

On the face of things, storage and data protection represent relatively small, albeit growing, potatoes to Dell. But in the highly competitive mid-tier storage market, these potatoes undoubtedly look mighty appetizing. Dell will need to make big moves quickly if it’s going to keep control of its pricey ($24.5 billion) lunch. In any case, the storage market is sure to heat up over the coming months.

About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, security, and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way?

Posted: October 24, 2012 by Agnes Lamont in Opinion
Tags:

I was browsing various news releases earlier today and something struck me. With so many leaders, pioneers, and global market leaders generating the news, what’s everyone else doing? Where are all the followers, the challengers, and the niche players?

For the sake of employees and investors in all of these self-declared leading companies, I sincerely hope that the claims of leadership are for press purposes only and do not represent their competitive strategies. Implementing a leadership strategy essentially puts a target on a company. In order to be successful, leaders have to invest considerable effort and resources in order to stay ahead of the other players in the market. I respectfully submit that’s a bit easier if you’re EMC or Coca Cola, than if you’ve just banked your Series A or B funding.

It behooves management to consider that adopting a leadership strategy is not for everyone, all the time. Indeed, being a challenger, follower, or a clever niche market player is likely to be a more successful strategy in growing both bottom line results and market share. Winning is better than leading.

Strategic Counsel is one of the services Marketingsage offers to clients: http://www.marketingsage.com/aboutsage-marketing-strategy.html

About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, security, and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

Of all the horrible jobs to have, it seems that marketing and IT are the worst.  CareerBliss recently surveyed thousands of people and identified the 10 jobs with the highest levels of employee unhappiness. I expected to see yucky and dangerous jobs on the list: rodent abatement; sewer maintenance; oil rig diving and the like. So imagine my surprise when I saw the list populated with many of the roles I’ve played and been close to in my own clean and happy little world! Here’s the list:

1. Director of Information Technology (“nepotism, cronyism, disrespect for workers”)

2. Director of Sales and Marketing (“lack of direction from upper management and an absence of room for growth”)

3. Product Manager (“the work is boring and there’s a lot of clerical work”)

4. Senior Web Developer (“employers are unable to communicate coherently, and lack an understanding of the technology”)

5. Technical Specialist (“treated with a palpable level of disrespect, lack of communication from upper management, and input was not taken seriously)

6. Electronics Technician (“too little control, work schedule, lack of accomplishment, no real opportunity for growth, peers have no motivation to work hard, no say in how things are done, hostility from peers towards other employees”)

7. Law Clerk (“hours are long and grueling, and the clerk is subject to the whims of sometimes mercurial personalities, a median salary of $39,780)

8. Technical Support Analyst (“may be required to travel at a moment’s notice, sometimes on holidays or weekends”, and “You can do better, really.”)

9. CNC Machinist (“no room for advancement”)

10. Marketing Manager (“lack of direction”, “tolerable,” “It’s a job.”)

Life as a marketing agency partner is great and I love it. Admittedly I work in a non-political environment with smart and funny people who have the grace to always refill the coffee pot. But I’ve also held jobs and roles equivalent to numbers 1, 2, 3, and 10 on the list and worked very closely with 4, 5, 6, and 8 in the corporate world for more years than I care to admit. Honestly, I was happy and I thought my colleagues were too (except for the disgruntled guy with the guns in tech support who shall remain nameless).

"I Don't Like Mondays" track by the Boomtown Rats

“I Don’t Like Mondays” YouTube track by the Boomtown Rats

I’ve always been excited by technology, software innovation, the magic that makes the internet and my printers work (I’m not a complete geek). The scar where I cut myself pulling cables under the data center floor healed, so the IT part was good. As a product manager I treated my products as children – nurturing them, advocating for them, trying to get them out the door on time with enough features to form a covering fabric of modesty. Practicing marketing is a passion and I have always been as happy as Larry the Cable Guy to “Git ‘r done” – default direction is to find folks and sell stuff.

Truly I am baffled that, of all the things that can make human beings unhappy, my career path accounts for so much of it in the workplace. The article by Daniel Burkszpan at CNBC is definitely worth a read and I’d love to hear your views on what makes a great and lousy job in technology marketing. By the way, chocolate makes everything seem better!

http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/113308/10-most-hated-jobs-cnbc

http://www.cnbc.com/id/44038159?slide=1

About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

IDC has just released its Worldwide Disk Storage Systems Quarterly Tracker for Q2 2011. The shipment of 5,353 petabytes in total disk storage systems capacity for the quarter represents a 10.2% increase in Q2 revenues compared to Q2 2010. Only Dell and the many hundreds of “Others” saw a decline in revenue.

It’s cheering to see some tangible evidence of prosperity and an uptick in IT spending. However, it behooves not only Dell and Oracle (Sun), but the smaller, emerging companies in the storage arena to pause and think strategically about how they can compete against EMC, IBM, NetApp, HP and Hitachi who jointly won 74% of the market in 2Q11.

Technical innovation is only a partial answer. When considering access to market, the conundrum is whether to try to beat them or join them.

Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide External Disk Storage Systems Factory Revenue, Second Quarter of 2011 (Revenues are in Millions)

Vendor

2Q11 Revenue

2Q11 Market Share

2Q10 Revenue

2Q10 Market Share

2Q11/2Q10 Revenue Growth

1. EMC

$1,621

28.7%

$1,287

25.6%

26.0%

T2. IBM

$771

13.7%

$680

13.5%

13.4%

T2. NetApp

$720

12.8%

$572

11.4%

25.7%

4. HP

$619

11.0%

$567

11.3%

9.1%

T5. Hitachi

$459

8.1%

$372

7.4%

23.3%

T5. Dell

$444

7.9%

$472

9.4%

-5.9%

Others

$1,009

17.9%

$1,080

21.5%

-6.6%

All Vendors

$5,643

100.0%

$5,031

100.0%

12.2%

Source: IDC Worldwide Disk Storage Systems Quarterly Tracker, September 2, 2011

Press release: http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS23012911

Report: http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=IDC_P4435

About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).