The difference between sales and marketing is simply scale

When I started in sales in 1986 one of the most important things to learn was how to get past the dreaded gatekeeper. Whole sections of sales training courses would be devoted to getting through to the decision maker and past their secretary. Their job of course was to do the opposite. It was an arms race, which mostly the secretary's won.

The gatekeepers were often so effective, and the clients so well protected that if you did manage to get past the gatekeeper you often got the deal.

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Why the Windows PC is finally the future of the Video Conferencing industry.

The last 20 years in the Video Conferencing space have been dominated by specialist devices, whether behemoths like the PictureTel Concorde, the Polycom Viewstation, a Tandberg or Cisco device. The last PC based room solution of any note was the VTEL Galaxy back in the mid 1990’s and that was clobbered by PictureTel Concorde’s and then murdered by the ViewStation.

 

There have been very good reasons for this, all of which made sense at the time. But the world is changing, and now I believe it is the time for the renaissance of the PC in the meeting room.

Here’s why.

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Death of a salesman

Next month I’m a Keynote speaker at the Xchange Solution Provider event March 8th-10th. I'm looking forward to it. they are always great events.

I’ve been talking about Excession Events events for some time now, but now I thought I’d make this talk very specific for the IT channel world.

Death of a salesman

Death of a salesman seemed to make a great title for my piece but I thought I better go for something a little more upbeat. How about the reinvention of sales?

Over the last decade marketing has been transformed. Before the rise of the internet marketing department’s primary job was to produce brochures, run shows and grab business cards. Sales would take them and try to close them.

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When the facts change so does my opinion. What else can one do?

Recently Polycom announced a device called the Centro and I basically ripped it to pieces in a few articles. It’s strange looking, it’s expensive, it seemed to be going the wrong way.

However a few friends including David Maldow of LetsDoVideo told me I was wrong and that there was something to this technology after all.

No Dogma

So, of course, I refused to be dogmatic and went to take a look at this strange device. I wanted to share some observations with you after using the device for a few hours.

I will happily admit, I was wrong. It’s not awful. For reasons I will go into later I actually think there’s something rather special about it.
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The US election explained in one slide

The Erosion of the middle class

In my book “The End of Certainty” I talk extensively about how the world of work is changing, that technology, whether that be robots or globalisation are quickly eroding the abilities of both the American and European middle classes to grow richer when many of their jobs are either being replaced by robots, AI (Artificial Intelligence) or folks in China. It may matter to the individual to whom they lose their job, but it doesn’t at a whole economy level.

 

Keeping up with the Jones’s

Many people will say that when they were kids we had no money and everyone was happy. The majority of people are less worried about how much they have, but are far more concerned about how they are doing relative to others. So when others, who ever these others are are changing their relative position it makes people at best uneasy, and at worst angry.

 

All people want is a better life for their children

Trajectory dear boy

The promise of ever rising prosperity has been a fulfilled promise in Western countries for the last 150 years or so. By any measure the quality of life of each generation is higher than those that came before. It seems not to matter how poor people start, but their trajectory. So long as it gets better for them and their families throughout their lives they are happy. That promise is beginning to break down, the average baby boomers will enjoy a higher quality of life than your average Gen X.

Partly because the Baby Boomer generation started from a lower starting point, partly because things like pensions promised 20 -40 years ago are having to be repaid now and partly because of the huge transfer of wealth from Europe to the USA caused by WWII. These benefits have run their course and are unwinding.

 

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Some 2016 predictions

Predictions are famously difficult to make particularly about the future, and most predictions typically say more about the hopes and fears of the author than they truly do about the future.

Recently I wrote about the “Death of Good Cameras” where I questioned the business models of Canon and Nikon and their reliance on the DSLR model. The huge drops in in DLSR sales seem to be bearing that out.

Much of that article was how compute power is redefining what is possible, and that great quality optics are becoming less important where images can be manipulated in Software.

The Light L16 Camera seems to be the next logical step in this transformation. It has 16 lenses of varying focal lengths built in, and depending on the zoom chosen by the user, takes 10 photographs simultaneously. Software then stitches these images together into a 52 mega pixel image.

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IBM about to takeover the Video Conferencing industry?

It’s all getting rather interesting.

In late January 2016 IBM bought UStream an online Video Conferencing service for $130m.

UStream might not be a household name but they have been powering services by numerous companies including Facebook and the Discovery Channel. These guys aren’t some tiny startup, they have a track record, if not a very public one.

In the last few months IBM has been adding a series of video related businesses to their portfolio.

In 2013 IBM bought Softlayer for $2bn, they are a major player in the cloud computing services, and interestingly enough the backbone for the Lifesize Cloudoffering.

Other recent IBM acquisitions include

ClearLeap video management, which IBM bought in December

Cleversafe, a video storage service IBM bought in October

Aspera, a large-file transfer tool IBM bought at the end of 2013

Steve Canepa, GM of Telecommunications media and entertainment at IBM said.

"Video is finding its way into the core of how you provide value to customers,"

The 800lb Gorillas are circling

 

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The death of "Good" Cameras, Part II (Light L16)

Recently I wrote about the “Death of Good Cameras” where I questioned the business models of Canon and Nikon and their reliance on the DSLR model. The huge drops in in DLSR sales seem to be bearing that out.

Much of that article was how compute power is redefining what is possible, and that great quality optics are becoming less important where images can be manipulated in Software.

 
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Microsoft: The Compelling Event killers

Sales people know about compelling events, and if you’ve ever bought something you’ll know about them too. Buy now, get one free, but only until Thursday. End of quarter deals, Y2K, all examples of why you need to buy now. Every company and sales person uses them. Sometimes they are real, sometimes they are a little more nebulous, it doesn’t matter, it works.

At the end of the day sales people’s job is to make you buy on a time scale that works for them, not necessarily for the client. There’s nothing wrong with it, and it happens every day.

Most companies compete to have more attractive compelling events. Microsoft has perfected the exact opposite. What I shall call the stop and wait technique.

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Gamblers, Stock Brokers, Michael Caine & Doc Holiday

Gamblers, Stock Brokers, Michael Caine & Doc Holiday

Why do we hate change? It’s simply human nature, and they’ve proven this time again. Part of the reason why change is so scary: The future is always risky.             

In studies on people with gambling problems, for example, researchers would say to study subjects, “Let’s make a wager. I’ll toss a coin, and if it’s heads, I’ll give you $1,000. But if it’s tails, you give me $500.” People won’t do it. They are more concerned with losing what they have than the potential gain, however good that gain is, because the future is unknown. As a result, they have a predilection for maintaining the status quo.

                    

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The death of “good” cameras

Recently I got married

We had 150 guests at the wedding and about 148 cameras (there were a couple of toddlers who I don’t think had smart phones, but that’s only a guess).

For one afternoon my beautiful bride and I owned the internet, or at least a small corner of it while approximately 7,453 photos of our wedding were posted to social media.

We had an official photographer and we’re looking forward to seeing those pictures, but at some level the moment has past. Everyone who wanted to could see 7,453 photos of us did. Time was at some level more important than quality.

Except the quality was great

 

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Cisco buys Acano for $700m

Very interesting news this morning that

Cisco is purchasing Acano for $700m.

 

Few things to think about on this one.

Reports of the death of Hardware are greatly exaggerated

A number of people have been stating that hardware is dead and the future of Video Conferencing is all Cloud based at an infrastructure level. This deal seems to prove there is still life in hardware. Of course Acano produces devices brilliantly suited for a world of SaaS. After all the talk about Cloud, the actual compute has to be done somewhere. Acano are obviously right at the front of that.

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Video Conferencing. You work it out. Is a failed strategy

Something odd is happening in the UC (Unified Communications) and Video Conferencing world.

All the new players in UC (Unified Communications), VC (Video Conferencing) and WCC (Workstream Communications and Collaboration) don’t talk about calling someone up on their solution, partly because they can’t, but mainly because it seems the days of actually calling people up directly are going away.

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