Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

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).

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Here’s are some interesting survey results that support a CEOs active in social media. The chart comes from a MarketingCharts article.

CEO Social Media

In general, CEOs active in social media use blogs to communicate. From a marketing perspective, CEO blogs do help put a face on a company and they can help with press and analyst relations. They may even help enhance a firm’s credibility, attract new customers, and give the company a competitive edge, but that really depends on the content rather than the CEO’s personality or style.

So while I’d say many of these overwhelming positive figures are the result of serious brown-nosing by the executives who completed the survey, there is real merit to a CEO presence on social media. Unlike lower level employees, the CEO’s message carries more weight and his or her perspective is usually more interesting to a broad audience, especially if they are willing to express an opinion and engage in debates.

From a sales/marketing perspective, is blogging a good use of a CEO’s time? It is for plain speaking, lead-from-the-front, types who engage in product-centric discussions — assuming they can quickly write a blog for themselves, without a PR manager and lawyer scrubbing everything but the buzzwords from it. Only a minority of CEOs have the personality, product knowledge, confidence, writing skills, and computing skills to do that.

About the Author

David X. 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. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his 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).

As a marketer of data storage and data management products, including those for the emerging “Big Data” market, I was immediately attracted to a a new report called “Marketing ROI in the Era of Big Data.”

This 2012 report by David Rogers and Don Sexton of the Columbia Business School and New York American Marketing Association is not about how to market Big Data products (a topic my firm, Marketingsage, is happy to address). The report is about using Big Data analytics to drive marketing decisions. As the report notes, Big Data analytics is different from “the quarterly omnibus survey panels of traditional market research” that rely on periodically analyzing structured data such as a surveys, click data or sales.

Big Data analytics is “predicated on access to frequent and recent data” from many sources. For many this means analyzing data at near-real-time speeds. It also means the combining of data from various digital media — page views, time-on-site, revisits, clicks, opt-ins, opt-outs, purchases, shopping cart abandonment,  search engine page ranks, keyword usage, link-backs, demographics, perceptions, tweets, likes, shares, etc. It means combining data from traditional marketing tools such as event sponsorships, print advertising, direct mail, TV and radio adverts with digital tools such as email, social network accounts and mobile adverts/apps.

If you are a hands-on marketer, your brain may have just melted down when you thought about what it would actually take to make sense of all that diverse data…even if you had it available to you in real-time. If so, you won’t be surprised to learn that while 91% of senior corporate marketers (at large firms) believe that successful brands use customer data to drive marketing decisions, it’s not happening near as often as some might think. And, if it isn’t happening in the large B2C firms surveyed, it sure isn’t happening in smaller B2B firms with small marketing teams.

Here are some statistics form the report:

  • 65% of marketers said that comparing the effectiveness of marketing across different digital media is “a major challenge” for their business
  • 39% say their own company’s data is collected too infrequently or not real-time enough
  • Large firms are much less likely to collect new forms of digital data like mobile data (19%), than they are to collect traditional customer survey data such as on demographics (74%) and attitude (54%)
  • 22% are using brand awareness as their sole measure to evaluate their marketing spend
  • 42% of marketers report that they are not able to link data at the level of an individual customer
  • 45% of marketers are not using data to personalize their marketing communications
  • 57% are not basing their marketing budgets on any ROI analysis
  • 37% of respondents did not include any mention of financial outcomes when asked to define what “marketing ROI” meant for their own organization

Not surprisingly, the report notes that marketers who are satisfied with measuring marketing ROI tend to use more metrics than organizations that are less satisfied. Additionally, their leaders set measurable objectives for marketing actions.

Accordingly, the authors go on to recommend that marketers should get started with the basics of determining marketing ROI and then move on to ROI best practices.

A Personal View

Although it’s a long way in the future (maybe a decade), I’m looking forward to the day when a marketer can look at a dashboard that reveals what’s going on everywhere, in real-time, especially if coupled with artificial intelligence that  offers some insights into the data. However, lets not forget that such a dashboard is no different from the one in your car. You still have to do the driving. Even with a navigation system that gives you step-by-step instructions you still need to decide where you want to go and avoid all the obstacles along the way.

In reality, the data is only helpful if you define it appropriately, understand where it’s coming from, know what’s driving it and how to act upon it to meet your goals. That’s not a given. I’ve seen many instances where firms analyze marketing data only to draw poor and very costly conclusions because they lack perspective and experience.

For me, the “Marketing ROI in the Era of Big Data” conclusion rings true. It states: “Chief Marketing Officers face a dynamic and challenging environment for marketing today. They will find no simple answers to effectively measuring marketing ROI amidst the growth of big data and new digital marketing tools. Innovative marketing and effective measurement will both be works in progress that require leadership, agility, and constant learning.

About the Author

David X. 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. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his 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).

In Scott Shane’s book “The Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths That Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By,” there’s a chart showing data the four-year survival rate for technology businesses at 38% – poor compared to other industries. Given the competitive and fast-paced nature of technology, that’s not too shocking. Great ideas and great people are not enough to ensure success. Time is, as they say, money.

Marketing cannot wait until the product is ready to ship. Although resources in the typical emerging company are constrained, and it may be premature to staff and build a full department, some aspects of product, channel, and communications marketing are crucial to early success. How else do you get the early customers, partners and capital on board and launch successfully? At Marketingsage, we see this gap between marketing needs and capabilities as an opportunity to affordably deliver a new and valuable service that we have named “Countdown” specifically for start-ups in the pre-launch phase.

Prior to launch, emerging IT companies frequently grapple with meaningful positioning for their company and product offering in the market, creating critical sales tools such as white papers, videos, case studies, training material, web content, prospect lists, beta programs and reseller programs. They struggle to generate influential pre-launch “buzz” among investors, analysts, journalists and business partners. Key to overcoming these challenges is combining deep product and market knowledge with a complete array of marketing services.

Too often, consultants can only advise on strategy and content, but can’t produce the actual materials, effectively increasing their client’s workload. Typical PR and creative agencies can’t create content from the ground up, articulate meaningful differentiation, nor create detailed prospect profiles because they don’t have the necessary depth of product and market knowledge. Working with multiple specialists and agencies is not only unwieldy, but far too expensive for a start-up who may be facing the imminent prospect of raising venture capital.

Here at Marketingsage we have deep corporate roots in data storage, data management and security products targeting enterprise and government customers through direct, reseller and/or OEM sales channels.  That makes it possible for us to combine the requisite depth of product and market knowledge with our full and integrated array of marketing and PR services and help ensure successful launches, while reducing the capital and time required by up to 50%.

Sorry if this all sounds a lot like a commercial, but I am really excited at how we have organized our capabilities to serve early-stage companies and promote the quest for TNBT (The Next Big Thing). More about Countdown at http://www.marketingsage.com/aboutsage-prelaunch.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 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).