New Year Kicks off! New Projects, New Book, New Awards

January has gone as quickly as it arrived after the Christmas break! I’ve just had an analyst call and wished him a belated Happy New Year and it occurred to me that I only had time  in January to write one post. So this post is a summary of the last 6 weeks since beginning of January.

January saw the first London VMUG of 2017 being held. Many posts have already been written on the success of the day but it was a great event and a pleasure to attend as an attendee instead of committee member 🙂 I attended the Cohesity session and Alex Galbraith and Chris Porter’s AWS community presentation. Alex and Chris’ slidedeck can be found here, highly recommended taking a look. It was also good to catch up with many long time VMUG attendees and supporters; Ricky el Qasem (who’s double session received tremendous feedback), Alex, Chris, Sam MacGeown, Amit Panchal, Gareth Edwards, the committee of Simon Gallagher, Chris Dearden, Dave Simpson and Linda Smith, plus many more! I also had the pleasure of meeting with Stanimir Markov from Runecast for the first time. Runecast has been making quite a name for itself in the VMware community and will be sponsoring the April London VMUG. More about those guys at the end of this post 😉 It was great to see the committee continue with the community awards and it was fab to see Alex, Ricky and all the Opentechcast crew receive recognition of their contribution to London VMUG for 2016.

I’ve also been working with the WhatMatrix team on plans for the future development of the platform from a marketing perspective. I’ve also submitted them for an award in a datacenter innovation category. Once the finalists are announced, and I’m hoping WhatMatrix be one, voting will start, so I shall be canvassing you all for your votes, fingers crossed!

I am also pleased to announce I will be a judge in the newly launched Tech PR Star Awards, launched by my good friend and industry colleague, Rose Ross, of Tech Trailblazers fame.

Another project I’m involved in has been copy-proofing a very exciting new book – obviously not from the technical aspect, it’s already been peer-reviewed before it gets to me! But just ensuring it’s all proper English, like! I’m not mentioning authors or the book at this time as it’s pretty much under wraps but am excited to be involved, even if in a very small way.

I’ve also been asked by TECHunplugged team to help them secure sponsors for their 2017 events, so any vendors reading this, if you want to sponsor this very unique format event, just let me know!

Finally, two awesome things have topped off today for me personally. One, I’ve been awarded vExpert for the 7th year running; you can read the full list here. And two, I am very pleased to announce that I just signed a new client, Runecast! I believe their solution to be a totally relevant “must have” for any VMware vSphere estate and I’m looking forward to working with the team. As Stan is a VCDX and other team members are fellow vExperts, I might also learn something along the way 🙂

 

Whew, I’m exhausted just writing about what I’m currently involved in but am super excited for what the coming months will bring for me and hiviz-marketing and our involvement in these many fab initiatives. Stay tuned!!

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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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Industry Awards

I wrote this post back in March 2014 as guidance on writing industry awards. After posting it, Max Cooter – then editor of CloudPro – included a comment from me on their own guide for writing a successful entry for the UK Cloud Awards:

4) Business benefits Jane Rimmer (who wrote the winning entry for Databarracks) has some excellent advice on how to write a winning entry. “For me to write eloquently about the product, project or service, I first have to really understand the benefits it has delivered to the customer”. Anyone writing an awards entry should have these words emblazoned on his or her forearm. The UK Cloud Awards are all about business benefits: yes, we like technological excellence, but it means nothing if it doesn’t deliver results for the customer. Too many entries that we read didn’t understand this simple rule. Similarly, for projects, there were a few that didn’t really set out what the aim of a project was. Most were spot on, but there were some that talked too much about the technology and not about the aims.

As we are entering the season of award entries, I thought I’d re-post this article in the hope that it may assist others. A final pointer, that many miss, is fully read the entry criteria. Failure to do so is highlighted by the recent Tech Target Best of VMworld awards in Las Vegas. Cohesity won the Data Protection category on technical merit but then had to concede the win as their product wasn’t GA, a key stipulation of entry. Read Patrick Rogers’, VP Marketing and Product, gracious blog post here to understand more.

Good luck on any awards you might be considering entering, and remember, you gotta be in it to win it!

I’ve cut and pasted the original article below:

 

Posted on March 5, 2014

All companies like to receive recognition, whether from customers, partners or the industry.  There are so many industry awards in the market today, that one could spend their whole time just writing award submissions.  But is there a receipe for a successful submission?

I’ve been fortunate over the years to have submitted entries for many of my clients that have resulted in either being a finalist or a winner.  For me to write eloquently about the product, project or service, I first have to really understand the benefits it has delivered to the customer.  Secondly, why is it different to the plethora of similar solutions/services in the market?  Thirdly, what has the company achieved in terms of thought-leadership and, perhaps, changed practices due to their innovation or being a pioneer in a particular segment?

This is why awards submissions are better coming from an external resource rather than within the company, in my opinion.  Because internal folk live and breath their company/product/solution and, sometimes, have drunk too much of the “Kool-Aid” to be totally objective.  When submitting an entry for any award, the first thing is to really read the entry criteria.  Put yourself in the judges’ shoes; they want a succinct overview fitting their criteria so they can ascertain in a few sentences, or paragraphs, the value of your entry.  Secondly, don’t just repeat features/benefits from the marketing collateral; really delve deep into the deliverables against the specified criteria.  Some awards don’t specify criteria, they just have categories and “submit 1500 words” – these are the harder ones to gauge.  In my experience, though, a compelling entry combines innovation, demonstrating value to customers, leadership and, where required, customer testimonials, as all these elements have to have supporting proof points.

There is nothing like seeing a client receive an industry award and knowing your entry helped them to achieve the recognition, particularly when they look as chuffed as the CEO of my client Databarracks, winner of the Best Cloud Business Continuity Service Award at the recent UK Cloud Awards, sponsored by CIF and CloudPro.

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Whilst all this might sound marketing 101, the obvious is what we sometimes forget and I hope this post serves as a pointer on what to focus on.

 

 

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Robot Wars, Internet Community and Going Autonomic!

Having always been a Robot Wars fan, I’ve been riveted to my TV on a Sunday evening now that it’s finally back on our screens after a 12 year hiatus. What makes it even more compelling viewing is the fact that one of the robots, Storm2, is sponsored by VMware and one of the team is from VMware, Ed Hoppitt. Unfortunately, they were defeated last Sunday, but the show was great viewing and spotted a few fleeting shots of Joe Baguley! Ed was wearing a Cloud Native Apps t-shirt in one of his interviews, so a good bit of branding! What was also interesting to me was the interview with one of the judges, Dr Lucy Rogers, when she spoke of the camaraderie between the teams and how the Internet has created a great community. Dr Lucy recommended, “Get involved, get online.” She also mentioned the Internet allows discussions to take place anywhere in the world. Which reminded me of the great community that I am part of – we’re all here for each other when needed, even if we work for competing vendors (caveat: as with most generalisations, they’re generally true, but there are some exceptions to this rule, as observed at times on Twitter 🙂 ). You can view episode 4 of Robot Wars here on BBC iPlayer.

Speaking of competing vendors, I found the news this week that VMTurbo has changed its name to Turbonomic fascinating. I worked with them a few years ago (2012-2013) to assist in raising awareness and creating demand in the UK. Although I’ve not personally used their product, I’ve seen it in action and spoken to many customers that rely on it on a daily basis. Plus, I believe their patented economic scheduling engine to be very innovative. I’ve always seen it more as a complement to VMware, but many view it as a competitor to vROps. There are overlaps, of course. However, in my opinion, the main area of competition is not specifically technology, but more budget. If $$ are limited, organisations are not necessarily going to purchase both solutions.

I think a name change has been on the cards for a while but hats off to the marketing team in executing a pretty smooth transition to the new name and the new messaging. My only critique is the new logo, but only from a nit-picky and possibly subjective perspective. When you have a list of sponsors of an event listed – with the same sized real-estate for each logo – the smaller the width of the name, the more prominent a logo looks. Given the length of the new logo, Turbonomic will not be as visible in the first instance. As this example from the Gold sponsorship list from VMworld demonstrates, but guess you could argue the green “on” is pretty prominent!

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Since Eric Wright joined VMTurbo, oops, Turbonomic, I’ve witnessed their commitment to the community develop considerably. They also have an online community forum, Green Circle.

Turbonomic has gone from being intelligent workload management, to a software-defined control platform, to now being an Autonomic Platform. I wish them continued success under the new brand!

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Well, that was the week (and a bit) that was!

There are 5 things that occurred in the past 10 days that have really shocked and, in some instances, saddened me.

  • Nutanix “wheel” debacle
  • Brexit outcome
  • Euro championship outcome
  • Top vBlog 2016
  • Rumours of Nutanix’s acquisition of PernixData

Let’s start with the 2nd one; I don’t ever discuss politics or religion on social media and, frankly, the EU referendum wasn’t about polictics, albeit the politicians did a fab job of completely effing it up! Demonstrating, along the way, that they’re all lying toe rags. I won’t delve deeper into my personal thoughts as I think my tweet summed up my thoughts!

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Status: Sad. Right, that’s that one out of the way.

The 1st one; this is the second time Nutanix has been accused of being sexist.


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The first time was 2 years ago with their competitive marketing campaign, nixvblock,that contained a series of videos of “Vicky Block” demonstrating some eclectic dress sense and mental issues. This was the first time Nutanix fielded a woman to post a blog to apologize, however, this post seems to have disappeared from their website, albeit Laura is no longer with Nutanix.

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Frankly, the outcome of both situations elevated Nutanix’s visibility, Howard Ting apologized on twitter and Julie O’Brien appeared on The Current Status podcast, so all will blow over. My view, in general, is men are wired – emotionally – different to women, we should all be seen as people in tech, a homogenous tech world wouldn’t be much fun and times change, we need to move with the times.

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Status: Sad.

The 3rd one; What a bunch of wankers! When we really need our boys to step up and lift the nation after the turmoil of BREXIT, they proved they’re an over paid bunch of individuals who cannot play as a team. Nuff said. Status: Sad.

The 4th point; I am so incredibly chuffed to have my Rimmergram blog even listed on Eric Siebert’s Top vBlog list. To have been voted 181 and received 29 votes is just thrilling, I am ecstatic beyond belief. Thank you to all that voted for my blog. STATUS: Shocked but in a good way!

Finally, number 5. The El Reg post is, at time of posting, just a conjecture. However, I have been informed PernixData no longer requires my services. This makes me truly sad, I’ve loved working with the team, totally believe in the technology and have met some awesome people as part of my role and have thoroughly enjoyed managing the PernixPro program over the past few months. I am sure the real facts and details will emerge during the coming days/weeks of the future of the company. STATUS: definitely both shocked and sad.

So, what a turbulent week, I’m pleased it’s Saturday – off to ride the horse now!

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