Politics, HCI and Social Media FUD

[update]

My Twitter and Facebook timelines have been swamped lately with conflicting posts. Conflicting because of differing – and confusing – opinions. Twitter has been full of the HPE/Nutanix #Dare2Compare ‘campaign’ and Facebook has been full of Labour/Conservative bollocks. Excuse the language but that’s really how I see it. I’m comparing the two because, to me, they represent the same thing – one side trying to get ‘one up or over’ the other by means of one-sided ‘facts’. The old saying “Lies, damned lies and statistics” has never been truer right now.

The one thing that I do know for sure is they all lie. Either deliberately or by twisting the truth. For the first time in my voting history I’ve no idea how to vote in tomorrow’s General Election – both main parties are led by liars and both their manifestos contain content that is so not relevant and a priority currently. On one side you have a pacifist and on the other you have a windsock debate ducker – neither of whom are showing great leadership skills in my opinion. Politically, I don’t think we’d be in this situation if the Referendum campaign had not been so full of lies – on both sides. And the people that led the charge – and won – then buggered off and left others to pick up their mess. So who knows what tomorrow will bring, but I’ve never felt more concerned for my country, and the world at large, than I do right now. I will vote tomorrow, too many people suffered to enable me to have this freedom, so I won’t shirk that responsibility, but where oh where to place that cross…………

Honestly, right now I’m sick of it, social media that is. I’m finding all the posts totally unprofessional and unnecessary. In the case of HPE/Nutanix, I’ve not been a fan of some Nutants’ posts and Twitter rants in the past, but I honestly didn’t expect HPE to stoop to the levels they have with their Dare2Compare campaign. Don’t they see all they’re doing is giving Nutanix airtime? I once fired a client because they wanted to go head-to-head against the market leader in a ‘trade-in’ campaign. I’ve never seen these work and just wouldn’t be party to it! Suffice it to say, they tried, failed and the sales leader that led that particular initiative got fired!

I’ve not always seen eye-to-eye with Josh Odgers on Twitter but can’t ignore his passion and enthusiasm to highlight the inaccuracies of the HPE claims, as this post demonstrates.

I would like to think that all involved in both these scenarios are doing and saying what they are because they truly believe they’re doing the right thing for their audience. But that isn’t the main reason in my view; Nutanix and HPE are doing what they’re doing because – yes I’m sure they believe what they’re individually saying -but because of shareholder value. May and Corbyn are doing what they’re doing to get their party into power which may not be the best thing for the people of this country.

On a lighter note, I’m registered for the London VMUG on 22nd June and hope to see many vPeeps there! Register here.

 

 

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WhatMatrix is a Finalist!

DCS Awards Logo 2017 FINALIST CMYK HRZ

 

[UPDATE May 18th] WhatMatrix secured runner up in the ICT Innovation award – an amazing achievement, well done team!!

A quick update to my February 8th post. As mentioned in my Feb 8th post, I entered WhatMatrix into the DCS Awards in the Data Centre Innovation category. I’m very proud to let you know that WhatMatrix is a finalist in the Data Centre ICT Innovation category!

Winners of all awards are selected purely on votes alone, so WhatMatrix and I would sincerely appreciate your vote for them. You can vote here, and will only take a moment to complete the online form. You can’t, however, vote using a gmail, hotmail, etc. email account, only votes from a current business email will be allowed.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to vote!

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GTM via a Channel – Insights for Startups

In a meeting with a startup this week, we discussed the EMEA channel and it got me thinking about what startups should consider when entering a market via the channel and compelled me to write this post.

I’ve always worked for, and with, companies that go to market 100% via a channel. For startups, in particular, a leveraged sales model via a channel (whether single or two tier) is the most effective and expedient way to enter a new market and scale at speed. I’ve always applied the same thinking to channel marketing; leverage your marketing dollars by co-marketing with your engaged channel partners too. However, there are many caveats to that, especially in today’s vendor saturated market. No longer can you just take a product message to either distributors’ target resellers or resellers’ target customers. Solutions that deliver upon customers’ business challenges will garner greater interest versus just a technology message. And, of course, vendor channel programs – margins, rebates, MDF, etc. – need to appeal to resellers as much as the technology before they’ll consider adding you to their portfolio.

Vendors entering a market seriously need to consider whether to implement a single or two tier distribution strategy. The days of true value-add distribution are long gone, mainly due to acquisition and consolidation of distributors. If your product/s is/are run rate and mainstream, then two-tier can make sense. If, however, you’re focused on the enterprise, with a long sales cycle, there are typically far fewer resellers to target. Why, in this scenario, would you engage with a distributor, when you can sign resellers direct and provide a higher margin return for both them and you? One could argue that distribution protects vendors from bad debt risk and provide an operational service. But you can get factoring organisations to conduct this role for less than you have to provide in margin to distribution. Vendors really do need to investigate this alternative in my opinion. However, distribution certainly continues to play a key role for many vendors. The large distributors, at least not in the UK, do not, in my experience, best serve startups that require focus – and that don’t have $100K upfront for a funded head. However, some of these larger distributors do have some exceptional product managers, who are used to bringing new technology to market and continue to have a startup ‘mindset’. These product managers do a sterling job in many instances of grasping how the technology fits into their overall portfolio ‘stack’ and can take the combined message out to the reseller channel. These individuals tend to have their background and heritage in the former VAD that has, ultimately, been acquired. Unfortunately, these are very few and far between.

Most, if not all, the companies I have worked for and with have created demand and sold directly to the customer, with fulfilment via the channel. Depending upon how much ‘skin in the game’ the channel has put, should depend upon their return – blanket discounts just don’t create the right sort of behaviour any longer. Back-end rebates work well to drive the right behaviour by paying for specific KPIs or deliverables. Marketing should always play a part – preferably larger than smaller – of these back-end rebates. For companies that provide a % of revenue for MDF, the control and management of these funds is of paramount importance to the success of implementing these funds. I have seen distributors take the accrued marketing dollars to the bottom line as they’ve ‘expired’ and accounting will not let them utilise the funds due to their financial practices/controls. In an ideal world, channel marketing will work with the vendor channel manager and the distribution/reseller marketing manager to implement a quarterly plan to utilise the funds. The opposite extreme of this is where large vendors expect a plan to be put in place 6 months in advance, which really can only consist of ‘placeholder’ activity that far in advance. The key is to drive utilisation but maintain a level of flexibility – all whilst operating within financial and corporate governance guidelines!

There are still a few VADs out there that continue to help vendors create a market, they’re just harder to find and more selective about whom they add to their portfolio. Remember, for them, investing in you as a start up is a risk – they will invest in your technology with sales and technical support and will spend marketing funds on creating awareness and demand. Then what happens? You get acquired before they’ve had a chance to get a real return on their investment and the acquiring company already has one of the large distributors and so you terminate your VAD, leaving a bad taste in the their mouth.

As with any go to market strategy, you need to identify your key goals and what type of partners will best serve and deliver upon those goals. I am still convinced that a channel GTM strategy will deliver in most cases, it’s just whether your choose single or two tier that will remain a key question for you.

 

 

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Crowdsourced Consultancy #FTW!

WhatMatrix® – the crowdsourced consultancy community platform – has announced 6 new comparison categories have been published, 8 new category consultants and vendor endorsement for its disruptive IT comparison website. The number of viewers of the site has grown exponentially since launching in December, indicating that IT professionals are looking for insightful, unbiased and independent information.

The website provides free and intuitive access to an increasing number of “always on-line” comparisons, enabling businesses to make IT purchase decisions, create solution proposals and perform technical product research. The platform also provides vendors with a ground-breaking way to increase brand visibility and articulate product value.

Since December 2015, WhatMatrix has published 6 new comparisons:
• New: Software Defined Storage and Hyperconverged Systems
• Cloud Storage Gateways
• Disaster Recovery for Virtual Environments
• Cloud Management Platforms
• Backup in Virtual Environments
• Virtualization Platforms

New and recent category consultants include Marius Sandbu,  Ajay Walia, Ajay Nabh, Viktor van den Berg, Herman Rutten, Ephraim Baron, Jan Hosek and Roman Macek.

Further new comparisons are in the pipeline for publishing in the coming weeks include
• All Flash Arrays, Application Delivery Controllers
• Enterprise Mobility Management / Unified Device Management
• Software Defined Networking

In addition to the category updates, the WhatMatrix platform was also updated with significant functionality & usability enhancements, including community driven curation and the ability to generate an evaluation report. New features coming soon include generation of custom reports, review and rating of products and the customization of evaluation criteria based on viewers’ use cases.

This unique community platform is gathering momentum and is becoming recognised as a “go-to-place” for unbiased information.  Only recently, they were mentioned on Reddit, which is a testament to the great work the category consultants do.

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VeeamON Forum, London – a Rimmary

I’ve been fortunate to attend some interesting industry events recently and this was my very first VeeamON Forum. On entering the venue, prior to the keynotes starting, the first thing that hit me was the ‘buzz’, there was a really vibrant atmosphere. The first people I bumped into were 2 UKVMUG attendees, Craig Dalrymple and Nick Furnell. They were chatting with someone I’d conversed with for a long time over twitter and spoken to on Skype for a PernixData customer story, but never met. It was awesome to finally meet IRL Anthony Spiteri, in attendance all the way from Australia! Throughout the morning I met many more PernixPros, including Rasmus Haslund, Liselotte Foverskov, Olafur Helgi, Barry Coombs and Karel Novak.

The breadth of countries represented at this event in London is a testament to the strength of Veeam in its customer and partner base. I also bumped into a few European VMUG leaders, namely Fred Hofer, Joep Piscar and Javier Larrea. Veeam has its own evangelist/advocacy program called Veeam Vanguard and many of the aforementioned are also VeeamVanguards, who had their own meeting the day prior. After the morning keynotes, they were called together for an official photo, with the program owner Mr Rick Vanover!

 

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The keynotes were interesting and focused on Digital Transformation as the ‘theme’ and were well balanced in terms of content. It was interesting to hear about the floating, 100% virtualized datacenter from Richard Agnew in his Availability for the Modern Enterprise keynote. He also shared some impressive growth numbers for Veeam:

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His quote of the day, for me, was in talking about the shift in IT – that it is no longer the small organization scared of the large, it is the slow scared of the agile – he said “No CEO wants to be Uber’d.” 🙂

 

I found the IDC presentation informative with Archana Venkatraman, senior researcher for Storage and Datacenter at IDC. Key takeaways for me were IDC’s view of “thrivers and survivors”, along with the 1st platform being mainframe, the 2nd platform client/server and now the 3rd platform is really the Internet of Things. Archana also shared some interesting stats on priorities and spends:

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She summarized with data protection tools need to be agnostic and compatible with heterogeneous environments.

Next was the customer panel – always great to hear from the peeps ‘at the coal face’. The panel consisted of a diverse section of industries; transport, finance law and education. Bob Eadie trumped everyone with having been at Bedford School for 45 years, he said he arrived in 1971 at the same time as the first computer! His statement that IT is pupil-led in his school and that IT can make or break a student’s career was quite sobering.

Let the customers do the talking!

Let the customers do the talking!

I then enjoyed catching up over lunch with Julian Wood and Liselotte. I also bumped into Iain Radford of Telefonica, who I’d not seen since VMworld Barcelona a few years ago. He very kindly took this photo of me and Liselotte 🙂

 

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The VeeamOn Forum ‘vibe’ reminded me much of the early days of VMware customer and partner events; lots of people sharing their stories, with a good element of community and happy customers and partners. A really great event, thanks for having me Veeam!

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