During the past 10 years, Marketing technology (“Martech”) applications have become numerous; so numerous that the “Martech 5000” now comprises 7000+ entrants. Dr. Philip Kotler of Northwestern University defines marketing as “the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at profit.” Are marketers at risk of focusing so much on the mechanization of the process such that the actual art of the discipline – the craft – is lost along the way?
Despite considerable fanfare around the concept of customer success, in most tech companies CS is still in its infancy as a strategy and an organizing principle. During five years or so of field research and experience with Saas companies, I’ve identified at least three critical gaps which today inhibit the effectiveness of most companies to align with their customers’ target outcomes and thus maximize their growth.
Yes, another of those “keys to success” articles. I’m even using the magic number 7, as so many how-to books and articles have done in the past in emulation of Stephen Covey, whose wildly successful Seven Habits books have influenced millions of readers including myself. I hope Covey wouldn’t have minded the implied tribute here, along with so many others over the years.
By Paul Wiefels
Decades ago, FCC chairman Newton Minow described American commercial television as “…a vast wasteland.” He could have been talking about yesterday’s Superbowl. Not the game, mind you. It was superb from kickoff to the final second. No, this year it was the advertising, much of it an exercise in mendacity, mediocrity, and banality. Then there was Justin Timberlake, who the LA Times described as having nothing to say which he said over and over. It’s also an apt description for this year’s commercial efforts.
Japan has historically excelled at world class manufacturing. It’s a hardly disputed fact that no other country matches this amazing capability. Manufacturing lends itself to incremental improvement through quality principles like kaizen, decentralized shop floor decision-making, and keiretsu-based value chains … manufacturing traits embraced and optimized by Japan’s large companies. However, what worked exceptionally well from 1970-1989 in driving Japan’s economic miracle and prosperity faltered with the bursting of the “Nikkei Bubble” in 1990. What happened?
“Don’t be evil”. If the EU’s case is accurate, Google doesn’t seem to have stuck closely enough to the core principle it has publicly and internally espoused since 2000. In case you’ve been on vacation or asleep for the past week or so and have not heard the news, on June 27th Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s anti-trust commissioner, announced via press release a record €2.42 bn. ($2.8 bn.) fine against Google for abusing its market dominance in search by manipulating search results to favor its comparison shopping service over those of competitors such as Nextag, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com, and Shopzilla, as well as smaller sites like Kelkoo and Foundem that appear to have suffered greatly from Google’s alleged abuse while Google’s shopping service has reportedly grown as much as 45-fold in market share in the past three years or so.
Earlier this month an article in the Financial Times by John Thornhill, the paper’s innovation editor, caught my attention. Thornhill was relaying an intriguing set of ideas expressed by the authors of a new book, What To Do When Machines Do Everything?
Before discussing the future impact of today’s unfolding industrial innovations such as driverless cars, robotic surgery, precision agriculture, or automated beer service (as in the photo above), the three authors – Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig, and Ben Pring – make their first key point, citing the example of an early 19th century innovation that enabled an entire industry that generates $620bn. in annual revenues today. What could this invention have been – The steam engine? The airplane? The sewing machine? Or maybe the telephone? Theoretically, you might expect not be too far off with any one of these answers, but in fact the invention in question was … the lawnmower.
I’m going to use Slack as a study of how a well-funded unicorn that has done extremely well with SMB customers can advance its chances of success with enterprise customers despite the heft wielded by large incumbents such as Microsoft and Google. What I hope to illustrate is the importance for executive teams to understand the different strategies and “muscles” required to Play for Power (i.e., achieve dominance in selected target markets) alongside what they have to do on a daily basis, which is to play for Performance (i.e., make their numbers). For lack of a suitable mental model and corresponding KPIs, boards, CEOs and management teams tend to conflate these two goals. Doing so can be extremely costly in terms of misplaced investments and failed growth initiatives.
For the past few years I’ve been researching the marketplace and advising clients how to organize their resources effectively to ensure client success and thus succeed in expanding adoption and engagement after first landing a new customer. Progress has been made by some, but in general companies still fall far short of what most enterprise customers consider to be minimum expectations, and thus far short in terms of the expand benefit that could accrue to vendors. Why should this be?
Why Internet Companies Need to Stop Abrogating Their Responsibilities
- For some time now, and especially since the November elections, Facebook has come under pressure to own up to its role as a news publisher.
- As with Google, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Uber, Airbnb, and many other consumer internet businesses, company executives such as Zuckerberg like to affirm that they are no more than “technology platforms”; presumably they feel that this somehow frees them of responsibility for any undesirable content that appears on their sites – or in the case of Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit and others, from an obligation to observe normal regulations, pay local and state taxes, treat workers as employees, etc.
- The frequent appearance of fake news items, much of it offensive in nature, as well as other adverse occurrences on different sites, is quickly forcing these companies to take measures to clean up their act. But will they go far enough?