Tag Archives: technology

Roundup of Gartner and Forrester Insights on B2B Social Media

14 Dec

Last week Forrester’s Zachary Reiss-Davis and Gartner’s Jenny Sussin blogged noteworthy social media frameworks for IT Infrastructure CIOs, CEO’s, and Decision-Making VPs to consider.

Both agree that we all have unique, organic experiences of social media—personally and professionally.

We don’t want to over indulge though, or do we?

Social Media

Zack’s find . . . “Don’t let yourself be deceived; your key influencers are already having conversations, whether or not you’ve begun a marketing initiative to interact with them.  However, engagement will fuel the fire behind their conversations, and allow you to generate more positive content about your products and your company . . .
Listen To Customers, Engage With Influencers

For B2B Social Media, we want to know when to engage and how—we desire to tag the emerging “beat” or sustainable cusp of importancethis grabs our attention.

Now Jenny’s . . . “Strike a balance and recognize that just because someone doesn’t use a social network specifically for what you’re using it for doesn’t make them wrong, or stupid, or frivolous” . . . “Trying to please your execs and your social constituents is an almost winless game,”  . . . pa-dump roll please . . . “consider checking out some other sources before defining your social media reality . . . The Social Media “Bro” Fest

We’re here precisely for that!  Strike a balance but do indulge by following Vendors, Solutions, and Products @ IT Central Station.

Follow Products IT Central Station

You can follow products, write reviews, and analyze what others in IT Infrastructure planning have done to make great decisions—what will you do next to add value to your IT Enterprise or your organization’s Strategic Plan?

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Cost savings are not always compelling (enough) . . . from Gartner’s IT Research Director

10 Dec

Last week Gartner’s Rob Addy gave us a run down of why VPs of IT Operations [CIO, CTOs] and Data Center Managers hesitate to purchase IT infrastructure improvements:

Cost savings are not always compelling (enough), December 5, 2012

Addy describes when Gartner subscription holders would get a substantial membership discount if he could convince them to save big money—adopting some of Gartner’s recommendations. Now who wouldn’t want to save big money based on Gartner’s proven track record of IT vendor analysis across a worldwide market? The end-user clients he contacted surprised him—and not what anyone would predict—until you read them.

TellingStories

The top reasons given for non-adoption varied considerably:
“I haven’t been asked to save money there”
“I’ll keep that in my back pocket in case I need to make more cuts later”
“I’d have to get agreement from too many people within my organization”
“It will mean changing our internal processes (and that is too hard)”
“The return isn’t worth the pain”
“I have too many other things on my plate and don’t have the time to do it”
“I’m not prepared to bear the additional risk, however small”

IT Central Station offers a compelling way to dig deeper into the cost-saving strategies available. We empower IT users, cut through vendor spam, enable social networking among IT pros.  Anyone can be on the front lines of what does well in Enterprise IT infrastructure—peer to peer.

Rob Addy’s take on how to address the non-adoption from even the most vetted Gartner recommendations is summarized as,

“In reality you may need to position a minimum of two stories. The official party line for corporate wellness improvement that will be used to explain the rationale behind the decision internally and the highly personalized and personal story for your buyer (or buyers).”

Where can you find these stories? Take a look at IT Central Station’s Reviews as a start .

IT Social Media finds its best address for CTOs, CIOs, and Decision Makers from IT Enterprise and Service Provider markets @ IT Central Station.

At IT Central Station, you can follow products and solutions along with ones you’re considering for near or long-term planning—all done anonymously.

Gartner: “Recommendations from Peers is More Important Than….Gartner!”

21 Nov

The headline sounds ironic, but it comes from a presentation given by Gartner entitled “By 2017 the CMO will Spend More on IT Than the CIO.” I thought the topic was interesting so I checked it out.

The presentation was given by Gartner VP Laura McLellan and the premise is that “Marketing is purchasing significant marketing-related technology and services from their own capital and expense budgets – both outside the control of the internal IT organization and in conjunction with them.” Made sense to me.

What I found most fascinating in the presentation is slide 23 of the presentation (see below) which includes the findings of a survey of the most important sources of influence for purchasing marketing technology solutions. Industry analyst firms such as Gartner, Forrester and IDC came in second, followed by agencies and consultants. Coming in next was “online communities”, which include LinkedIn groups, message boards and industry portals that tend to be cluttered with vendors and others trying to promote  themselves or their products.

So what was ranked #1? The #1 most important source for product recommendations is recommendations from peers. No surprises here! We founded IT Central Station to enable technology professionals such as yourself to easily and privately research and share technology product recommendations with your peers. We built our platform to enable you to easily tap into a network of other real users, in a private and secure manner.

Recommendation from peers most important

The archived webinar is available free of charge here. No Gartner subscription required. If you just want a copy of the slides, send me an email and I’ll be happy to send them to you.

Russell Rothstein, Founder and CEO, IT Central Station

Are Customers the Enemy?

19 Oct

I was struck by the title of a recent blog post “Customer as Enemy” by Gartner Research Director Aneel Lakhani. It’s a short post so I have included it here below:

I saw this question come through on my Facebook feed. The context is large, public technology companies:  Why, so often, are customers seen as the enemy?

Because they’re the thing in between the company and the revenue. Because the real customer is shareholders and the buying-customer is part of the supply chain. Because product managers think customers exist to buy their products. Because better competition is seen as a decision failure on the customer’s part instead of a portfolio / marketing / competitive failure on the company’s part. Because large entrenched public companies are often myopically, maladaptively egocentric.

Pretty strong words. It’s a no holds barred analysis, but primarily from the perspective of the vendor (and analyst) community. We here at IT Central Station put our primary focus on the community of buyers and users of enterprise technology. So when I read Lakhani’s post, I asked myself: why, so often, are vendors seen as the enemy by the customers?

Of course, every vendor-customer relationship is unique, but if we look at the issue from a holistic, market-based perspective, it seems to me that the key issue is asymmetric information. Vendors know pretty much everything about their products and their customers, and the good sales teams learn a heck of a lot about their prospects during the selling process (including their budget and expected ROI). On the other hand, the technology buyer has much less information at his/her disposal — typically doesn’t know the product inside and out (even after a trial or POC), and doesn’t have full visibility into the breadth of customer experiences with the product (since customer reference calls are usually limited to the cherry-picked premier customers). This lack of information can lead to suspicion, loss of trust, and eventual buyer remorse.

At IT Central Station, we’re here to empower technology buyers and give them the information they need and want before making an important technology buying decision. We enable them to not only read IT product reviews from other real users, but also to connect and contact those users via private messaging (and if they so choose, then to continue the conversation by phone or face to face). By doing so, we address the information asymmetry in the market for technology products and level the playing field.

Russell Rothstein, Founder and CEO, IT Central Station

The Product Roadmap of the Future

27 Sep

One of the recurrent themes in this blog is that I share with you some of the seismic changes going on with online reviews, social networking and community sites in the consumer world and extrapolate how those changes will impact us here in the world of enterprise technology.

In that vein, I read a great article on the front page of the New York Times about how social media is changing the way that companies get input from customers about their products. The article covers the consumer market and how B2C (Business to Consumer) companies use social networking sites as “virtual focus groups” to gather new product ideas. If you’d like to read the article on the Times website, click here.

Now, let’s consider our world of business-to-business enterprise technology products and services. While the article cites examples that are not relevant for our world, there are some key lessons to be learned:

  • When most enterprise technology companies the input usually comes from existing customers and prospects in advanced stages. What’s missing is the voice of the rest of the market. Especially for vendors that want to grow their market share, this is a very valuable community that is not usually tapped into for roadmap planning
  • As Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen wrote in his classic book The Innovator’s Dilemma, successful companies can put too much emphasis on customers’ current needs.
  • End users of technology, who are looking for technology solutions to meet their needs, do not have a vendor-neutral community platform to share their thoughts about what they need and how they need it packaged.

All of this points to a latent need in the market: Virtual focus groups for enterprise technology products that enable real users to share their candid opinions with potential suppliers of technology solutions. It’s a win for the real users who get to express their opinions before engaging in a sales process with a vendor, and it gives vendors objective feedback about what the market needs. That’s a win-win!

One of the exciting features we plan to roll out later in the year is our virtual focus group program, where we match users with vendors to share their opinions. The system will be entirely opt-in for the users, which means that only the users who agree to  participate will be included.

Sound fascinating? If you would like to participate, first you need to register at IT Central Station. And if you’re a user, write a review. It will increase your chances of being invited to a virtual focus group in the future! If you’re a vendor, please contact us and we’ll be happy to share our own roadmap with you! 

Russell Rothstein, Founder and CEO, IT Central Station

Ratings To Hit B2B Companies: Are You Ready?

21 Sep

Yelp, TripAdvisor and other review sites are making huge waves in the markets for local business, hotels, and other consumer products. It’s clear that this online review revolution is expanding from the consumer world to the business world. In a recent article in InformationWeek entitled “Yelp Ratings To Hit B2B Companies: Are You Ready?” David Nour, an enterprise social strategist and thought leader on Relationship Economics , provides the following analysis:

the experience rating is headed for the corporate world. Today, business professionals in a variety of industries, such as healthcare providers, law firms, and architects, are being rated and discussed online by the businesses consuming their products or services. And those discussions are influencing engagement and buying decisions by other prospective clients for increasing amounts of both short-term transaction dollars and long-tail reputation capital.

…I’ve identified 10 unique psychographics–in essence digital buying habits. Think of these as unique buying patterns individuals go through when making buying decisions online. For example, what they read, what they consider of value, what influences their thinking and call to action. Past buyers of your products and services have a very distinct motivation, use distinct taxonomies, and prescribe to a different buying process than other types of buyers, such as FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) buyers or educated buyers. For example:

— Price/Discount/Value Buyer seeks to maximize value for the investment of time, effort, and resources; is motivated by perceptions of bargains and uses discount, free, low-, and no-cost taxonomy; uses a general buying process of online value search followed by evaluations from multiple sites offering similar value; uncovers most favorable bargains in comparative sites.

— Expert/Educated Buyer seeks to be informed and make a deliberate next step in a logical process; is motivated by facts and value; uses fact-finding taxonomy; uses a general buying process of online product search followed by a “pain search” (where specific search language is used to address a challenge) in blogs and forums; uncovers most credible information from forum readership.

Only when you understand the online behaviors of your target audiences can you align that which they need (versus want) with the value that you bring to improve their conditions. Beyond the value that you can add, it is critical that you change the lens to focus on the value that is being perceived, received, applied, and impacted. How are they better off because of your products or services? That outcome is the only thing that matters, and unfortunately, organizations that lose sight of that critical point get berated on experience-rating sites such as Yelp.

This sounds like good advice for vendors to ensure that they come out looking best on a tech product review site such as IT Central Station.

Russell Rothstein, Founder and CEO, IT Central Station

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