Friday, October 23, 2009


Disclaimer: I rant because I care

This week I attended quite possibly the meatiest, most useful marketing conference of my career. Massive and unequivocal kudos to the event organizers, presenters, sponsors and volunteers. I will tell everyone I know to go next year.

Every session was delivered by a kick ass, energetic expert with real street cred behind him/her. I walked out with pages of typed notes of things I can actually apply to my business – today. Chatted with some cool and utterly charming new acquaintances many of whom I've gotten to know via online social networks. Such fun to put real live faces and smiles to the twitter Ids.

But. As PeeWee Herman said, “there's always a big but”.

Leaving the venue after a Molson 67 (thanks guys for being great supporters) and moseyed towards the train station, I started getting a little annoyed. And then a bit more annoyed, and I could not figure out why my day of awesomeness had actually kind of pissed me off.

And then it hit me on the train. I didn't get one of my major needs met.

I went to the event with my newbie CMO hat on. Not as one of the wannabe cool kids, but as a willing prospect.

And I wanted to be marketed to.

And only 1 person actually did.

The session themes were all consistent – this is the era of word of mouth, word of click, permission-based marketing, using social networks to know your prospects, being clueful about who's around you. We all sat there in the same room, nodding in unison, tweeting the highlights together. We were all on the same page, weren't we?

Ugh. Painful to realize that no, we weren't.

In July I worked on a pretty cool project helping build out persona research for technology buyers and influencers. I even wrote a sales training storyboard with a CMO character who talked about pain points and priorities and what haunts at night. And wow, now I get to live that character.

So if you were an up and coming PR or creative agency, or a software company building cool shit to optimize web business, or had a new brilliant angle on web marketing, wouldn't you kill to talk to a CMO who is 30 days into a new gig, is doing a thorough review of the entire company go-to-market strategy and has tweeted about working on her 2010 marketing plans? Someone heads down figuring out how take the North American market by storm? Who's working with a team of brilliant developers and business managers focused on growth? Who wants to use digital marketing techniques because they want to be lean, mean and innovative? Someone who came out and spent a full day of her time specifically to find you?

By attending the conference I gave permission to be pitched. By attending the sessions I did I gave permission to hear how you can help me next year. If during the break I asked who your company was and who your audience is, I did because I'm planning a budget, not because you were cute. And in a few cases I did actually say “your company” because what was written on the badge was unpronounceable. Might wanna rethink that part.

I'm a walk the talk kind of person. That's why I loved Barry Quinn's quote during the agency panel discussion. Thanks guys @Mondoville for also finding it entertaining. And to the one person who gave me a card and offered to show me something I've never seen before, I'll ping you next week.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Do Labels Matter? Some Thoughts from a Shiny New Marketing Exec

Yesterday more industry buzz about some of the shifts and disruption in the ranks of the ECM/CMS world - including a couple of comments about my new role as CMO at Nuxeo.

First some good questions posed by Ron Miller, in an editorial for FierceContentManagement: "Does the Open Source Label Still Matter?"

...and then some thought-provoking comments from Tony Byrne in his Trendwatch blog for CMSWatch, "Software Empires Striking Back".

After thinking to myself, "Whoa, like, no pressure, eh?" and crawling out from under the covers, I sat down and really thought about what kind of shift is going on out there.

  • Ron is right - the product is the product is the product. Peel back the layer of 'brand' and 'voice' and 'label' and ultimately the issue is that business people are choking on content overload and want things to get better. Good product has to find the audience who needs it. Good product should not have any hidden surprises or catches when someone wants to use it. Good product deserves to be used without the hoops and loops and nightmarish license negotiation and oh-so-predictable quarterly discounting charades that is pervasive across most segments of the enterprise software business. If you like what Nuxeo produces, you just go get it. Here, in fact: . Tell them I sent you..because like Ron says, this is how I'll be judged ;-)
  • Tony is right - Better story-telling doth not make for better software. But good software that doesn't have a good story is a tree falling in the forest. Nuxeo has invested in an ECM foundation that was built for this century - not the last one. Yeah, yeah, we scale big for lots of content and lots of users... but guess what? we scale really lean and small and skinny too. We've entered the world of mobile, social, decentralized enterprises. And their needs are new. This is the part that made me go "hmm" when I started learning about the Nuxeo offering. And beyond story-telling, I'm heads down figuring out the priorities for lead gen, analyst relations, product branding, launch checklists, learning a new WCM application and helping expand the North American team.
So do does the label "open source" matter? Well, yes, but not for the usual reasons. Ultimately feature for feature Nuxeo needs to compete on how good it is, not because it has open source as its development and licensing model. Companies in the information economy have specific ECM needs - we have to meet those requirements to do our job.

Where it *does* matter, however, is the inherent flexibility the open source model gives, because Nuxeo is committed to innovation. Our own core development is augmented by partners and customers - it is the living breathing example of the social marketplace in action. The barriers to customer engagement and evolving requirements disappear. Cost and time to market become an advantage as we keep up with the shift in how content is created and consumed across enterprise.

I really recommend you read some of our CEO's thoughts on why this business model works - here's Eric's blog: or follow him on twitter @ebarroca.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Comfort Zone is Just a Rut with Padding

Wished a friend good luck with her new job earlier this morning and that phrase just popped out of no-where. Now I've been thinking about it all day. She works for the government, and wants to be a writer. She should be: she's clever, insightful, and she wants to be read. So she puts effort into finding an audience. After a few years of mid level clerical jobs, she's finally found a position where she can use her analytical and research skills. We wondered (through our primary communication method - discussion forum private messages) why it took so long.

It's easy to recognize when one is in a rut - crabbiness, impatience, frustration, sensing something is wrong but not sure how to fix it. And then there's the comfort zone - it's the safe, warm place that's a little dull and routine but ultimately good enough.

So when does the comfort zone become the rut?

It's when the fluffy cozy bits start to wear thin and the stubbly edges of the previously unseen rut start to scratch and scuff. It's when a favourite project ends and there's nothing interesting ahead, or a colleague throws you under the bus, or a manager ignores your contribution. Figuring out that you've failed to progress because you've been protected or lied to about what's going on outside. It's when you realize that the form-fitted mattress was filled with air and not substance. It's when you are shocked to realize the cushy title and corner office was just a padded cell.

Update - lent my copy of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers to another friend last night. Handing it over, realized I had dog-eared a page. Looked at what I had flagged. It was the section on the Korean Airline pilots and how cultural norms needed to be recognized and addressed before behaviours could be changed in the interest of air safety.

Now I remember. I read that chapter nibbling on some lovely charcuterie and sipping a rosé, sitting by myself one night in Paris. Just like the chief engineer quoted in the anecdote, many of us get squeamish when it comes to calling out corporate culture as a root cause of fear and failure.

The attitudes, assumptions and ingrained behaviour adopted by the pilots had now become a contributing factor to serial disaster. Even though this very behaviour was expected by peers to fit in and get along in the workplace.

"We took them out of their culture and re-normed them".

Taking individuals out of the comfort zone of a world-view shaped by bullying...exposing them to new ideas and methodologies...breaking stereotypes and dispensing with de-humanizing hierarchy...building an environment where it is safe to speak truth to power.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Implications for the Next Generation Office - A Day with InfoTrends

On Wednesday, I delivered a session at the Office Document Strategy & Solutions Summit - hosted by InfoTrends, a leading worldwide market research and strategic consulting firm for the digital imaging and document solutions industry.

A big thanks to InfoTrends Omri Duek and Anne Valaitis who invited me to participate and served as impeccable hosts, introducing me to a great group of like-minded digital content professionals.

Titled "Generation Gap: Implications for the Next Generation Office", (abbreviated version of the slide deck here on SlideShare), I was asked to design a session to spur some debate and discussion, to get the attendees to think about their own changing business models and the disruptive forces that are compelling their customers to think differently.

The Disruptive Forces on my radar...
  • Economic uncertainty and how businesses are questioning traditional assumptions in an effort to stay lean and competitive
  • Loss of Corporate Memory - the ultimate irony of the information age... poor record-keeping and content sharing practices means we risk losing decades of intellectual property and mentorship potential as experienced workers leave the organization
  • Businesses - even small ones - become global. Use of the web means bigger audience to reach, companies need to create content to be consumed by all the senses in order to get around language barriers
  • Greening of the Enterprise - where can costs be cut - both $$ and reduction of carbon footprint
  • Gen Y Enters the Management Ranks and brings with them differently wired work habits
  • We enter the Era of Peak E-Mail - no longer a productivity enabler but has evolved into a productivity inhibitor
  • The Mobile Era Emerges - content is created and consumed on a whole new category of communication devices
  • Rise of Open Source, Cloud Computing, SaaS - erosion of traditional IT practices and business models of software companies
  • Web 2.0 - Adoption of new collaborative content creation tools becomes mainstream, increasingly recognized as electronically stored information by regulatory and legal authorities
Expect to hear more from me on many of these topics over the next few months... new approaches to Enterprise Content Management demands a recognition of the changed business environment affecting customers and prospects.

My session was followed by a fantastic presentation from Sun's Gary Lombardo. His content provided a natural continuation and deeper dive into the themes I introduced. Particularly valuable was his practical and proven methodology for how to start, maintain and grow a community initiative for business (internal or external audience).

What did I learn at the event? The most intriguing discussion I had was over lunch, with a couple of very sharp and funny ladies from Taylor Business Equipment (a certified Women's Business Enterprise) in Chicago. They educated me on the environmental and preservation issues as the printer industry evolves into adoption of solid ink devices. What does that mean for our next generation of physical content artifacts? My nerdy historian spider-sense starting tingling at this one.

Maybe that will be a topic for next year's event...