Category: Business Partner Newsletters
Fall Is Showtime
During September and October, NGS-IQ product specialists will be traveling throughout the continental USA to attend events, meet users, and conduct tutoring sessions. We hope you’ll look for us, ask your customers if they would like to learn about NGS-IQ, or request a chance to meet with our team member privately to discuss marketing tactics. Our fall calendar is below:
OMNI Technical Conference, IBM, Schaumburg, Illinois, September 19, 2017
COMMON Fall Conference, Hyatt Regency St Louis at the Arch, St Louis, Missouri, October 2-4, 2017
RPG-DB2 Summit, DoubleTree Park Place, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 17-19, 2017
Mincron-Dancik Fusion17 User Conference, Sheraton New Orleans, Louisiana, October 15-18, 2017
IBM’s Strategy and IBM’s Customers
Since you are reading this newsletter, there’s a good chance you receive IBM Systems Magazine each month in its digital or print format. IBM uses the magazine to soft-sell their strategic direction and remind customers about the strengths of IBM Power.
The current issue includes the results of a survey of over 300 readers. A quick review of the results alongside the content of recent issues suggests a gap between what these customers want to read and what IBM marketing wants them to hear. In a table showing their level of interest in various types of content, readers showed their strongest interest is technical information and articles about new IBM technologies. In contrast, strategic content was least frequently cited as being of strong interest and most frequently described as being of little to no interest.
When your most loyal customers aren’t interested in your strategy, it’s either a weak strategy or you aren’t communicating it in a meaningful way. Let’s hope IBM has begun to recognize this and is actively working to enhance both.
Working with NGS: David Gillman is wrapping up his long career at NGS this month. Bill Langston has assumed his job duties and request that you address your questions to him going forward. We thank David for his many years of service to NGS and wish him the best. Please contact Bill Langston at (916) 920-2200, ext. 254.
Fall Season Marketing
Leaves change, the weather changes, people change…but the IBM i marketplace and its customers, in general, seem to remain the same.
Thanks to their frequency and the difficulty of getting your message through to your intended audience, Webinar marketing is a challenge in 2017. I hear from partners who have been disappointed with attendance at recent events, but regardless of the attendance numbers, the more important concern is getting those who do attend to take the next step. Webinars remain a low cost way to share product and technology information, but you need a compelling subject, not a sales pitch, that raises issues your audience will want to discuss further after the event is over.
What does continue to work in the IBM i market is good old-fashioned personal contact. Calls and in-person meetings have returned as the main way to spur IBM i customers to action. It seems that what is old is new again.
Many IBM i IT people know there are additional products or services which can improve operations, but they are hesitant to sell them internally. Having an external subject matter expert come into the office both lends an air of credibility to their internal argument and gives the IT person a reason to involve decision makers in the discussion.
We can work together to create a marketing campaign where the call to action results in lead qualification and is closely followed by a face-to-face appointment with one of our subject matter experts who will travel to your area.
Watson and IBM i
If you are reselling Watson into IBM i using accounts, I would love to talk with you.
Despite several years of announcements and advertising, Watson is still in the early-adoption stage, particularly once you step outside specific industries like healthcare. NGS has created demos and business case discussions for how to integrate Watson-produced data into IBM i-based reports. They work and they make sense to customers, but very few IBM i customers are moving forward at this point.
We get the usual excuses at first – no time, other priorities, and so on. However, with just a little probing we can attain the true reasons for most small and midsize companies’ reluctance – management doesn't know how it might gain a tangible business benefit from Watson, and the IT department isn't sure how to frame the conversation needed to initiate a project. Small, focused projects targeting a narrow business use seem to have the best chance of gaining interest.
What is working for you in selling Watson services to midsize companies using IBM i?
Descriptive Analytics on IBM i
While the term “descriptive analytics” is not brand new, it is unfamiliar to most people in the IBM i ecosystem. Despite all the hoopla surrounding advanced analytics and hot new technologies of analyzing data, old-fashioned reporting still dominates how companies interact with their IBM i databases. However, descriptive analytics is simply another way of saying query and reporting.
Traditional reporting methodologies are not sexy, but they are useful. That level of practicality is embraced by the vast majority of IBM i professionals. Relating to these people by using both new and old terms simutaneously is a quick way we have found to build trust. Being able to equate the new with old concepts is comforting to IBM i professionals who have seen the marketing spin change throughout their careers.
Supplying Watson with Data
You could not be blamed for being a little confused as to what Watson is - it is so multifaceted that narrowing on one area means you completely ignore other possible uses for it. IBM, trying its best, is messaging everything simultaneously.
Regarding our customers, a few are dabbling in some of the advanced analytic functions, but most are playing with Watson more than meaningfully using it.
Many of those who have experimented with these advanced functions have concluded that good data going in to advanced analytics is crucial (long known) and that NGS-IQ is great for getting that good data together from IBM i ERP databases.
Keep that nugget of information in mind. Getting clean, targeted data together using NGS-IQ on IBM i is easier than uploading a lot of random data and then using code on Watson to filter it.
Unlike past years, NGS will extend its travel plans into the summer for visiting customers and prospects as well as attending conferences and trade shows. We have had customers tell us that summer is a great time for refreshers and skills update sessions.
Regions we will be traveling to include the mid-Atlantic, Southern California, and the Great Lakes region.
We are actively looking for additional areas we can visit in order to start some prospect evaluations. If you would like to organize an event or some customer meetings, contact me and we can probably arrange some time for joint sales calls.
2017 Marketing and Software Sales in IBM i
Despite what some have said is the worst name of any server or computer brand, IBM i is still going strong. (As you have heard many times, try adding “i” to any search and see if anything different turns up.) Fortunately, it is more effective to add “NGS” to an internet search. Give it a try and encourage your customers to do the same.
Seriously, NGS’ Business Intelligence is going strong, with great response to Web searches and ads. The Web presence is just one aspect of our marketing efforts. Our marketing plan for 2017 will emphasize Webinars for prospects and customers as well as on-site sessions with business users. We'll also exhibit at many of the regional and national conferences in the IBM i ecosystem.
For and With Partners
With partners we are always happy and available to do one-on-one discovery sessions and demonstrations, which usually lead to a proof of concept. While we can do all of these activities remotely, our travel to customers provides us many opportunities to go on site with prospects to develop personal relationships during the evaluation process. When we are in the area, we can add in a few prospecting visits with your other customers.
Partners can always drive attendance to our Webinars. We do about six Webinars per year just for prospects. Outside the general schedule, I am happy to organize Webinars with a partner. We can jointly drive attendance in your area through email and telemarketing invites along with your personal contact.
After the individual Webinar playback is recorded, it is useable for months as a destination or action in a marketing message or embedded in a website.
There are still several large conferences around the country for the IBM i ecosystem. Some of these are vendor specific while others, like COMMON, are general.
If NGS will be exhibiting at a conference in your area, we will work with you to get the message to your customers. Schedule permitting, we can hang around the area and do some prospecting meetings, too. Keep this in mind as the year goes along.
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