Can Slack Fend off the Giants to Succeed in the Enterprise?


10-minute read

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.


Land & Expand Strategy: Time to Get Serious about Customer Success!


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?


Facebook – Technology Platform or News Publisher?


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?


Segmentation and the Art of Target Marketing


By David Schneer

In his recent post Paul Wiefels of the Chasm Group blogged about the business lessons we can learn from the segmentation models utilized by the DNC and RNC in the recent presidential election. Paul’s blog correctly pointed out that the RNC concentrated on the segment they thought they could win: rural white men. To use an unpopular gun analogy, this is the “rifle” approach compared to the “shotgun” approach. And, unfortunately, many of our clients use the shotgun approach in their marketing efforts, thinking that the spray of their message will hit more ears and/or eyes, when it actually falls on deaf ears and blind eyes. Segmentation is a very powerful tool, if used correctly. Segmentation can often identify the “low-hanging fruit” (i.e., market segments ripe to hear and react to your message).


Segmentation and the Hard Lesson of Elections


By Paul Wiefels

A few thoughts on what is to be learned from this past presidential election and how it might apply to our commercial endeavors.  Political analysts of every persuasion have been in full-throat over these past weeks parsing the numbers.  62+ million people voted for Mr. Trump garnering 306 electoral votes.  64+ million opted for Mrs. Clinton tallying 232.  Discouragingly, only 55% of registered voters actually voted.  Perhaps this is understandable considering the one, perhaps only, metric that pollsters apparently got right.  For many, the two names at the top of the 2016 ticket were so undesirable, so flawed, that they chose not to vote for president at all.  They instead focused on down-ballot races.  In 14 states, more people voted for the senate races than voted for the presidency (ref:  Business Insider, Nov 14, 2016).

But, there is also another element to this election that intrigues me.  Here’s why.


Merrill Research and Chasm Group Announce Alliance To Help Technology-based Enterprises Sharpen Go-To-Market Initiatives


(San Bruno, CA Nov. 16, 2016)  Technology market research specialist Merrill Research today announced an alliance with the Chasm Group, Silicon Valley’s leading management consultancy co-founded by and based on the works of Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm.

In crowded and noisy markets for technology products, many enterprises of all sizes maintain go-to-market efforts that are inadequately informed by direct customer insights.  Our collective experience over the past 20+ years is that these efforts often fall short in addressing underlying issues in strategy and execution, according to Chasm Group managing director, Paul Wiefels.


Pivot or Divot? The Decisive Difference between Strategic Pivots and Frustrating Flails


  • The concept of a strategic pivot was first popularized five years or so ago in Eric Ries’s book The Lean Startup and subsequently by Steve Blank and other entrepreneurs and academics.
  • Since then, it’s become another abused term for entrepreneurs, management teams, and VCs to use when announcing a dramatic change of strategy in their business or portfolio company.
  • Instead of executing legitimate pivots based on solid ground, many companies get sucked into a pattern of flailing wildly – making deep divots in the fairway rather than hitting a successful shot, to borrow the golf analogy.(*)
  • Getting this distinction right matters: it can be the difference between success and failure – whether a young startup digs a hole in the fairway or a more mature company whiffs at the ball when they try to increase customer adoption and revenues. I’ll review examples of successes and failures and provide rules of thumb to help you tell the difference.


Scaling a Big Data / IoT Company Toward $1 Billion


Vital Lessons on Hyper-Growth from Splunk’s former CEO

At a recent session in San Francisco for a dozen CEOs of young tech companies in the investment portfolio of UK and New York based Octopus Ventures, Godfrey Sullivan, chairman and former CEO of Splunk, provided the group with some powerful insights about how he and his team managed to drive Splunk’s growth from $10m. in revenue in 2008, when he began in the company as CEO, to its current run-rate closing in on $1bn. eight years later. This period included a 2012 IPO that has turned Splunk into probably the single most successful big data public company with a valuation of $8bn. as of October 7. During the eight years the customer base grew from 750 to over 10,000 and today Splunk is an acknowledged leader in big data analytics, security, and internet of things (IoT) applications.


Thinking Wrong: How Common Errors in Thinking Processes Lead to Poor Judgments and Poor Decisions

Thinking Pt. 2

By Paul Wiefels

Part Two

It’s summer time and I am devoting some of my “beach reading” to topics that personally intrigue me but are a bit off the beaten path from subjects I typically write about.  My previous post concerned how flawed thinking processes among healthcare providers can be extremely costly, not to mention, deadly.  Similarly, flawed thinking juries can wrongly convict the innocent, or let the bad guy off the hook.  Flawed thinking at work, in governments, and in our personal lives can be expensive, career-limiting, or simply embarrassing.  We put a huge premium on “getting it right” yet we fall prey to a number of biases and cognitive errors that prevent us from doing just that.  More troubling, cognitive psychologists tell us that we don’t just get it wrong occasionally.  We get it wrong routinely, tripping again and again over obstacles to decision-making that are systematic—deviations from rational thought, observation, and analysis that lead us into cognitive cul-de-sacs.


The Autopilot Crisis: What Tesla Mustn’t Do


Don’t fight it. Don’t try to brazen it out. Remember Intel’s PR disaster around the Pentium in the mid-90s? And what about the Exxon-Valdez oil disaster in 1989? And BP’s catastrophic oil spill in 2010? Closer to Tesla’s home industry, remember the Bridgestone tire scandal of 2000? And what about the ongoing dramas that are dragging down Toyota (airbags) and Volkswagen (diesel car pollution), jeopardizing their very viability?