Thursday, June 27, 2013

Using Data as a Service for Scalable Channel Enablement

The magic ingredient for successful channel enablement at scale is data. Imagine having the financial, operational, and behavioral data you need on partners to optimize new product launches, coverage models, and channel programs. Imagine being able to show partners — no matter how new or small or niche their focus — how other partners like them have achieved high return on investment (ROI) on their business with you. IDC's Channel Enablement Maturity Model provides a stage-by-stage guide for advancing the organizational, process, technology, and data infrastructure necessary to transform your channel marketing and sales enablement operations. The journey along IDC's Channel Enablement Maturity Model is one of evolving from a publishing/transactional framework to a process-driven one.

IDC's Channel Enablement Maturity Model - Summary View

Stage 1:
Ad Hoc
Stage 2: Opportunistic
Stage 3: Repeatable
Stage 4: Managed
Stage 5:
Optimized for Scale
Key characteristic
"Every product for itself"
"Portals grow like weeds"
"Consolidation but still stuck in publishing mode"
"Central control over process-driven approach"
"It's all about analytics (Data as a Service)"

Source: IDC 2013

The DNA for Success is in the Data 
IDC defines channel enablement as "developing the right competencies in the right partners to deliver the right solutions to the most profitable customers." Ultimately, the goal is to provide a scalable model to identify high ROI best practices and propagate them throughout the partner population at a very granular level. There are three ways in which manufacturers can capture the partner data needed to support the analysis:

  • Contractual obligation: Requires significant time and effort from partner account management, is limited to the largest partners, and is periodic at best. 
  • Operationalized data capture: The partner platform should be thought of as a SaaS offering that provides a wide range of functionality but also collects data on every partner interaction. The ideal platform will consolidate all of the interactions with partners by offering personalized access to content and transactional systems, as well as execution platforms for marketing, sales, and support. By virtue of this consolidation, it captures an increasingly large portion of partner interactions and thus provides a great deal of valuable data to inform channel marketing and management. 
  • Data as a service: Externalize partner performance data and make it available to partners in a way that captures even more data from more partners. The level of detail they get depends on the level of detail they provide. As a result, they can get actionable insights on how to better manage their businesses and market, sell, and support specific solutions. The database is in a virtuous cycle of enrichment. They should be able to get insight into a wide variety of strategic and tactical questions such as: 
    • How many people do I need in marketing, sales, technical, and support roles? 
    • What level of skills and training should they have? 
    • What marketing activities are most effective? 
    • What sales methodologies and plays are most effective at what stage? 
    • What manufacturer resources and networks should staff be utilizing most frequently? 

While data is the crown jewel, there are significant people, process, and technology prerequisites for success. To find out more please see IDC's Channel Enablement Maturity Model or contact me at gmurray (at) idc (dot) com.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Solution Marketing: Just What Is a "Solution"?

"How do we progress from offering products to offering solutions?" This urgent question has reached the top of many technology CMOs' initiative list. When IDC interviewed solution marketing experts for the newest report in our CMO Advisory best practice library, they confessed that that the first issue to tackle is agreement on what is a solution.

IDC predicts that by 2016, more than 80% of technology purchases will significantly involve the line-of-business buyer, who will specifically drive 40% of all purchases. These business-oriented buyers have little patience with technology that can't be easily connected to a business problem. The new buyer increasingly disdains "raw" products that require substantial work to integrate into something usable. The new buyers seek to buy offerings that are closer to meeting their actual business needs (aka "solutions").

While the specifics about just what is a solution varied among the experts IDC studied, the gestalt of the answer can be easily grasped by comparing a raw turkey and the complete holiday dinner that it will someday crown.

Consider the Turkey Dinner
In the analogy of the raw turkey and the complete dinner, the raw turkey, as a single component to a completed dinner, is like most standalone technology products. People can't eat raw turkey. If guests were to be served a raw turkey with no intervention from cooks, they would be sadly disappointed. The raw turkey certainly has value! However, its value is to the cook — not to the ultimate consumer, for whom it is inedible. Technology products, like raw turkeys, solve important operational problems for the builders, or cooks, of the ultimate solution.

Just as the raw turkey must be cooked and incorporated into a meal before it can be really appreciated by a guest, so must a great deal of preparation work be conducted before most technology products are useful to the end user (the customer's business). Only when enough product components (ingredients) combine with sufficient services so that the end result actually solves a business problem can you really call something a solution. Service work can include planning, consulting, implementation, integration, customization, and training as well as providing financial assistance, overcoming legal or standard hurdles, and more.

Avoiding the Bundling Trap
Companies who want to offer solutions must be especially careful not to fall into the bundling trap. Bundling can be an effective strategy for some situations, but a bundle is not a solution — and companies should not fool themselves into thinking these two strategies are interchangeable. Expanding on the turkey and completed dinner analogy, to host a successful holiday dinner, customers need all the components for the full meal — ingredients, recipes, and equipment to produce it. Then they also need to set a table, decorate the house, put music on, and be ready on time. A good host is concerned about the whole dinner experience for the guests, not just whether the turkey comes out right.

If a company supplies only operational-level technology (e.g. raw turkeys), it must figure out how all the other elements can be put together in a way that can be easily used by the customer. The company must partner with other suppliers and provide orchestration among them.

Solutions require a much more complex go-to-market proposition than products. However, the upside is that solutions offer an even higher value to the customer. By helping customers to have a delightful experience, you create a loyal customer who is more willing to pay a premium and become a proponent of your brand.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Benchmark your Marketing Organization with IDC Research - 2013 Tech Marketing Benchmark Survey

Here at IDC's CMO Advisory Service we are in the field with our 11th annual Tech Marketing Benchmarks Study. I would like to offer an invitation to participate to marketing executives across the industry. 

Have you ever wondered, "Is my marketing organization receiving enough budget to compete?" or "Exactly how much should I be spending on marketing automation?" If so, IDC's CMO Advisory Service's benchmark survey has been helping senior marketers answer questions like these for over 10 years!

Below are the essential "need to knows" around our survey and further down I'll dive into all the great value of benchmarking your marketing organization. Let's get started:

What are the benefits?
  • Complimentary copy of our 2014 Marketing Investment Planner to benchmark your company's marketing data against the industry's data.
  • Receive an invitation to our client only telebriefing held by IDC Analysts. 
What is needed? 
  • Email me (smelnick (at) IDC (dot) com) to get our survey instrument and taxonomy.
  • Complete the survey and send it back in a timely manner ('due date' to be discussed).
What is the Quality of Data and Confidentially?  
  • This is the 11th year IDC has fielded the Tech Marketing Benchmark Survey and will include participation from many of the 100 largest tech companies - this depth and expertise is unmatched
  • All responses are 100%, no questions asked, confidential. We take this part very seriously.  
Bonus to all Participants
  • All participants will be eligible for our 2014 Chief Marketing Officer ROI Matrix and will have access to their placement on the Matrix. A great way to easily compare your marketing progress against the rest of the industry's. 


Need More Information: View this excerpt from Kathleen Schaub's excellent post, IDC Tech Marketing Benchmark: Behind the Scenes. It explains all the intricacies (and value of benchmarking).
Why do companies benchmark? A benchmark provides context for decision-making. You spend a million dollars a year on social marketing. So what? If your CEO asks you this question, what will you say? Tech marketers tell us that they like to benchmark for the following reasons:
  • Improve the quality of annual planning: Last year’s program budget and gut feelings are no longer sufficient input
  • Gain insight into critical trends: Learn what industry leaders and competitors are doing – and how you stack up
  • Reallocate costs: Identify areas of overspending and opportunities for better value
  • Transform with confidence: Answer questions such as how much to invest in new areas like social marketing or how should I re-organize my department?
  • Drive with data: C-level executives increasingly expect marketing leaders to manage their business with the same level of operational excellence as other corporate functions.
  • Get an independent view: Benchmark data provides IDC analysts with a wealth of information that make guidance to clients personalized and accurate guidance
Feel free to reach out and let's have a discussion whether it's the right time for your organization to participate!

Email me at: (smelnick (at) IDC (dot) com) or find me on twitter @SamMelnick