Posts tagged Cracking
With all the recent teeth gnashing about startup investment shifting from consumer to enterprise technology, it’s worth noting that successfully cracking the enterprise market is no easy task:
- 70% of the U.S. economy hinges on consumer spending. Even with the pending fiscal cliff, it’s kind of hard to ignore the numbers.
- Enterprise technology is not a short game.
Unlike most consumer technologies, enterprise infrastructure and applications run on a much longer upgrade cycle: 5-7 years. While you might ditch your smartphone every year or two for a newer model, few companies are willing to swap out their CRM systems, storage or security technologies that quickly.
Switching behavior is both the most complicated and important subject in the enterprise technology market. Even if enterprise customers have good reasons to be unhappy with their technology vendors (e.g., lack of innovation, price gouging, poor support), their business runs on that technology. This makes them highly incentivized to see existing vendors address any issues and continue the relationship. As we all know, moving’s a bitch.
Of course, enterprise tech is a rich, rewarding game, so it’s worth exploring the strategies startups can use to overcome the barriers to switching in the enterprise market:
1. Transformational Technologies. The ultimate startup is the one that changes the game on an incumbent in such a way that the latter neither can block nor retaliate. Classic examples include Virtualization and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Because virtualization decouples compute functions from hardware (while running on top of the hardware), it is the ultimate disruptor because it’s non-invasive. SaaS eliminates the stickiness of packaged software – and the lucrative support contracts that go along with it. Interestingly, while there tend to be many attackers in Virtualization and SaaS, only a few players tend to win big. Very big: witness VMware and Salesforce.
2. Changing Product Cycles. Catching technology giants in product transition cycles is one of the most effective ways to insert new technologies. However, this usually requires an outside force to speed insertion. Earlier in my career, Intel Centrino drove the need for enterprise Wi-Fi and forced an architectural change. In 2013 you can see many great examples of this idea, including Palo Alto Networks, Splunk, ServiceNow and Workday. These transition cycles don’t last forever, though. Over time the incumbents typically build or buy their way into the new product segment and the situation stabilizes until a new cycle begins.
3. Trojan Horses. Sometimes a new enterprise IT category emerges in an indirect way. Cloud infrastructure eliminates the need to buy IT hardware and software; the rental model emerged as form of shadow IT for specific projects that could not wait for corporate IT to respond. It also became the preferred approach for brand new businesses (Netflix streaming). Amazon Web Services and Rackspace, two big early winners in cloud computing, sell computing cycles by the month, payable with with a credit card – often bypassing traditional IT purchasing processes. Once established, Cloud and SaaS vendors can then turn their attention to selling to mainstream IT.
4. New Buying Centers. The multi-hundred billion-dollar enterprise IT game now pivots on competition for the IT “stack,” as we shift from the Client-Server/Web mobel to cloud computing. This change has created a new class of IT decision makers such as the “cloud architect.” As companies move more to the cloud, this new IT leadership category drives key decisions for enabling new applications, also driving the buying all of the underlying IT components. And these new buyers may not be as wedded to the incumbent suppliers as were the decision makers they supplant.
5. The Consumerization of IT. The iPhone led to a watershed change both in enterprise mobility and computing. Not only did it challenge corporate purchasing patterns (“I buy, you enable,” also known as BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device), it eliminated a final barrier to what constituted a business device. This is less about “consumerizing” enterprise IT, but rather, adapting enterprise IT to leverage consumer technologies. In addition to mobile devices, apps are challenging the application market for business software.
6. Coalitions of the Willing. For most small companies, hiring a large enterprise sales force and entering a year-long acquisition cycle is likely to be an expensive exercise in futility. Sure, you might be able to make a living selling to universities, hospitals and niche verticals, but attacking the Fortune 500 requires friends who need another reason to re-engage in a selling conversation. Manufacturing and strategic partnerships with hardware makers made a lot security companies rich during the client-server era (e.g., McAfee, Symantec). Today, companies like Box are changing the game through new kinds of partnership integrations.
Frontal assaults are the hardest attack strategy for an enterprise startup. Attacking a powerful technology company’s profit sanctuary tends to piss them off. If you can pull it off, it might just get your company acquired, but run a big risk of perishing in the attempt.
That’s why this tends to be the strategy of large companies (e.g., HP’s acquisition of 3Com to attack Cisco) and does not have a great track record. The assault on the business PC by iOS and Android tablets and smartphones may turn out be a more successful example, but, Apple and Google and Samsung are hardly startups.
It can be done, of course. Many decades ago, Microsoft’s PC operating system was such a technology and for a generation, a small company in Redmond changed the world. (With a big initial boost from IBM, of course.)
Current technologies that might have the power to force enterprises to switch and create hugely successful startups include Apache Hadoop, Network Virtualization, Flash Storage, and Cloud Storage and Collaboration. That’s where I’d look for the next big thing.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Even though Facebook just hit the one billion subscribers milestone, a lot of marketers are still scratching their heads on how to make the most of the abundance of data volunteered by its users. From a search marketing perspective, the sheer volume of data on Facebook presents both an opportunity and a challenge when [...]
The post Cracking the Code on Facebook Search Marketing Success appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
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In the last couple of weeks, two well-known search tool providers — Raven and SEOmoz — have had their access to the AdWords API revoked, with little public explanation, as was reported by Kahena Digital Marketing. But Google denies that this is a “crackdown” or widespread…
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One of the biggest problems facing HTML5 development for mobile devices is the ability to tie the software to the hardware. It is a daunting task that has proved slow going by developers trying to figure out how it can be done. The fundamental problem is this: How do you tie a mobile browser to a device’s hardware to turn it into a functional operating system? Solve that issue, though, and you break the stranglehold that a phone’s OS has on many of its operations – and open your device up to a world of useful possibilities that aren’t necessarily defined by Apple or Google.
There are many fine engineers working on this basic but complicated problem. The closest to solving it comes from an open source project, spearheaded by Mozilla.
Mozilla’s quest to create an HTML5-based mobile operating system is called Boot 2 Gecko (B2G), which was unveiled as an open source project near the end of 2011. The promise behind B2G is that is will create a mobile OS that can be a platform for mobile Web apps that function just like their native counterparts on iOS and Android but are based on browser technologies. More so than any other HTML5 initiative, such as creating apps that function across platforms, the ability to be the platform and the hardware is one of the most significant development projects that developers are working on right now.
Since unveiling its roadmap, Mozilla has made significant progress. The pertinent piece in tying HTML5 to device hardware is called WebAPIs. It is aptly named: The goal is to take application programming interfaces (APIs) that have the ability to connect data from one point to functions at another point and tie them to the Web through a browser.
In this scenario, the browser becomes the platform. It needs to be able to interact with the hardware on a mobile device that controls a variety of simple functions including the telephone, vibration, accelerometer, power management, Wi-Fi, device storage, contacts, camera, NFC, BlueTooth, push notifications and more.
The ability to perform these basic functions through a mobile browser is still very much a work in progress. But developer Paul Rouget already has a working demo of WebAPIs in action. In a video post earlier this week, he showed off such fundamental capabilities including the use of an accelerometer, GPS, proximity sensors and power management.
The smartphone in that video is likely an HTC One X, the high-end Android phone running Ice Cream Sandwich, Android’s most recent iteration of its OS. Mozilla is working on two different ways of tying HTML5 to device hardware. Yes, it is trying to create a mobile operating system with B2G, but it is also working through its mobile browser, Firefox for Android (dubbed Fennec), to create a HTML5-based browser platform within Google’s smartphone OS. Almost all of the WebAPIs being developed are developed for Fennec on Android alone as well as in concert with B2G. Take a look at the documentation page for WebAPIs to see the progress of the project. Note that in the progress section, most WebAPIs are documented for both Android and B2G. (Because Mozilla doesn’t have a browser under iOS, employing this approach for the iPhone will be much trickier, and likely well off in the future; expect this approach to be Android-only for some time.)
What does Mozilla hope to accomplish by creating WebAPIs for its Firefox browser in Android? Foremost, the more powerful Firefox for Android is, the easier it will be for Mozilla to deploy dynamic Web apps quickly to a wider array of smartphone users. Boot 2 Gecko is a smart idea, and it is beginning to take shape, but it is still likely more than a year from actually coming to market with a real device. Mozilla is planning on a Web app store to deploy applications both through its desktop and mobile browsers. The mobile browser, which has its largest user base on Android, needs to be able to properly run those apps.
Mozilla’s idea is intriguing. On Android, it can become a platform within a platform. Instead of using the native Android browser or Google Chrome Beta, users will be able to download apps through Mozilla’s application store instead of Google Play. It is not exactly the “end-run around the app store” technique that many hope will be the future of HTML5 mobile Web apps, but the ability to create an app ecosystem that resides right next to the native app store would be a decent first step.
How exciting are Mozilla’s efforts on creating an HTML5 mobile operating system? With the presumed death of webOS and its Enyo-based application framework, has the hope of developers in creating a true browser-based OS on mobile passed to Mozilla? Let us know what you think.
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Google's SEO warning: We'll start cracking down on overuse of SEO
"We try to make the GoogleBot smarter, try to make our relevance more adaptive, so that if people don't do SEO we handle that,” he said, according to Search Engine Land. “And we are also looking at the people who abuse it, who put too many keywords on …
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It used to be that Netflix account holders could share their logins with friends and family, allowing multiple people to stream content from the same account simultaneously. That may not be the case for long, at least according to consumer advocacy blog Stop the Cap!
Some users reported recently that their attempts to stream content to multiple devices simultaneously were met with an error message telling them they weren’t allowed to do so. As it rolls out its controversial pricing plan changes, the company may be tightening the screws on viewers who abuse the system by piggybacking on somebody else’s subscription. The change will also have an impact on families, who often share the same Netflix account across devices.
Netflix has denied the claims, saying that any users who experienced trouble trying to initiated concurrent streams were experiencing a bug, which they promised to fix. To test it out, we tried streaming an episode of “Mad Men” from our laptop while starting up an episode of “Parks and Recreation” from an iPad. Both shows streamed without a problem.
Technically, Netflix has long had these limitations in their rules, but they’ve never enforced them. Customers with either the one-disc-at-a-time or streaming-only plan are supposed to be limited to streaming from one device at a time. Pricier plans that include multiple discs also enable concurrent streams, starting with the two disc plan for $20 per month.
This being the case, Netflix wouldn’t be totally out of line in enforcing its own rules. That said, now is probably not the best time to do it. The company has already outraged customers by increasing its rates and recently disappointed investors by losing a vital content licensing contract with Starz Entertainment.
In many households, multiple people use the same streaming service on multiple devices, especially among families. A plan that enables four simultaneous streams from the same account costs $30/per month. When combined with other streaming service plans, the pricing can begin to approach the cost of a cable subscription.
It appears that the the streaming limitations experienced by some users are not a widespread issue. It’s possible that Netflix was experimenting with such a change, but quickly backed away, realizing that it probably can’t afford even a few more irritated customers right now.
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Google has been notifying their AdSense for Search partners of a recent AdSense guidelines change that impact the use of the program with browser toolbars and third-party client applications. Google is supposedly giving these partners 30 days to make changes to their toolbars and applications or be…
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