Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cleantech: Can’t Change the forces of Physics or the forces of the Market

 “Save the Planet”.  Now that’s an admiral goal.  What’s next?  “Save the solar system”?  In all seriousness, inventions and innovations that reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions are worthy goals.  But, just as the cleantech entrepreneur needs to address the laws of Physics they need to address the laws of the Market. 

New technology adoption, in any market, must address fundamental forces to succeed.  Cleantech, like every other market faces the classic  S-Curve and Gaussian adoption curves.   Both of these models address that fact that customers have implemented the current generation of technologies and solutions.  They are familiar with them, they know how to manage them and they have paid for them. 

The cleantech entrepreneur must develop, and articulate, a solution whose value proposition is so compelling that customers will risk, yes risk, the implementation of them.  Very few, there are some, will implement a cleantech solution only to “save the planet”. 

The entrepreneur must ask three basic questions:
  1. Can my target customer make money with my innovation?
  2. Can my target customer save money with my innovation?
  3. How easily can my target customers implement my innovation?  

If the answer to both question 1 and question 2 is “NO”, then perhaps you should go back to the drawing board.   If the answer to either of them is “YES”, the answer to question 3 will determine your strategic marketing plans and your target “innovators” and “early adopters” defined the Gaussian technology market adoption curve made popular by  Geoffrey Moore.  The larger the effort to implement your solution the more compelling the value proposition must be.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Untapped Service Provider Real Estate Assets

I saw the following post in Total Telecom..(See below)..  While it's an interesting real estate play,  it misses the real untapped RE asset play....Central Offices and Regional Switching Centers.

In the U.S., central offices are decades old and they are located in prime center cities across the country.  Built in the days of human operators, today they are made up of huge empty spaces.  I've seen a medium city's CO that was also a regional switching center and of the seven (7) floors of 20 foot ceilings all but two were completely empty.

So each local exchange carrier has fully depreciated assets in prime city center locations that are basically empty.  Here, we are talking $billions of hidden asset value.  One major issue is the huge amount of physical copper pairs and the Main Distribution Frame (MDF).  I've also seen a large city CO with 110,000 copper pairs.  Impressive!

These MDF and copper pairs are not going anywhere fast.  Imaging if you could.  Migrate to FTTX (Curb, building, home, access box), put the optical CO gear in the basement and backhaul to a regional data center.  Now, after some likely serious environmental clean up and building refurbishment, you have an ideal location for an office building and a GREAT REIT PLAY.

Even if the MDFs and copper pairs can't be phased out fast enough you can still collapse the existing equipment in to a small percentage of the building and refurb the remainder.  Better check the battery banks while you're at it.

Be interested in your comments..

Greg Whelan
+978 992 2203

TOTAL Telecom Article...

Monetising real estate assets could lead telcos down REIT path

By Mary Lennighan, Total Telecom
Friday 24 May 2013

Telecoms operators worldwide seen following in the footsteps of U.S.-based Cincinnati Bell and monetising their data centres to fund investment elsewhere.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Vision vs Roadmap: Part II

In part one we defined the difference between the vision (emotional) and roadmap (logical).  In part 2 we’ll discuss the connection between the two. 

Marketing is tasked with creating a long term vision for the product and/or for the company.  This is a valuable function of the marketing department.  This vision is often referred to as the 10,000 foot view.  In some cases, marketing visionaries take this to 100,000 feet.  Here, we refer to this as the “airplane”.

Down on the ground, sales people with quotas “sell what’s on the truck”.  For this discussion all products will be referred to as “a box”.  The box is on the truck for the sales teams to sell today.  Traditional, or tactical, marketing, engages in activity (demand generation, collateral development, et al) to assist the sales teams effort in selling “off the truck”. 

Engineering develops the next products to put on the truck.  They base their development roadmap on numerous factors such as customer demands, competitive pressures, market windows and available technologies to name a few. 

A major disconnect between marketing and sales, and therefore engineering, is the lack of connection between the vision and the roadmap; the airplane and the truck.   The consequence is all the effort to market the airplane does nothing for the sales person on the street selling boxes off the truck.

It’s important to push the envelope when developing your vision.   Remember a vision is emotional and emotions are ethereal not concrete.   As the vision moves out in time it’s acceptable that it gets blurry or fuzzy in the later years.   A good metaphor is the hurricane map.  

Meteorologists know where the eye of the hurricane is at a given moment.  They have an idea of where it will be at points in the future.   The further out in time the less certain they are where it will be.  The same is true for your vision. 

However, if the vision is too far-fetched  or worse technically infeasible, your credibility vanishes never to be recaptured.   To prevent against this we’ll use the word “plausible”.  From “plausible” means;

Definition of PLAUSIBLE: superficially fair, reasonable, or valuable but often specious <a plausible pretext>

To ensure the vision is plausible ask the engineers if they could develop feature X if they had the resources (time, money and people) and the prioritization to develop it.  Or, in other words, could it be in a future release at some date in the future.  If the honest answer is "yes" then it’s plausible and belongs in the vision.

By ensuring plausibility and by including engineering in the vision development you will have the credibility with the customer and the collaboration and buy-in with the technical teams. 

In keeping with my previous post of the global phenomena of Attention Deficit Disorder, I’ll end this with some pointers of what to consider when developing your vision..

1.       Focus on how your customer, and their customers, business and lives will benefit.
2.       Focus on how the world will look with the benefits of your solution.
3.       Create a compelling view of the future
4.       Illustrate how well you understand their business, their customers business and the concerns, challenges and issues of both.
5.       Addresses CxO level care-abouts
6.       Ensure it’s in a time frame of interest and reasonableness (3-5 years)

In Part III we’ll discuss the different buying decisions of the vision and the roadmap and how to link them together to sell products today and tomorrow.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Powerpoint Addiction: A Symptom of Global ADD

 A picture is worth a thousand words.  That doesn’t mean you need 1000 works per slide!

Many companies are addicted to Powerpoint.  Yes, addicted.  Whether for internal or external audiences meetings revolve around passing the projector cable back and forth so “speakers” can show their slides.  How many of us have asked the question, “can I get a copy of the slides?”  Similarly, how many people will read even a two page WORD document, unless it’s a list of bullets?

As stated in a previous post, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is a global phenomenon.  That’s not going to change and will likely accelerate.  Hence the need to think in term of the billboard metaphor also stated in a previous post. 

The problem is not with Powerpoint itself, it’s with the slide creators.  Powerpoint is quite powerful and overtime has eliminated the need for Photoshop for many simple functions.   There are many issues affecting the quality of a slide and of the presentation.   Time being a main issue.  To create truly amazing slides takes a lot of time to both learn the software and to create each individual slide.   A large company I worked for would outsource the actual slide creation.  This would cost upwards of $5000 per slide!  Yes per slide.   The slides were truly amazing.   Yet, the average .PPT file grew from 5Mbytes to 20Mbytes in 5 years.   

Another main issue is the purpose of the presentation is often forgotten.   The art of storytelling is becoming a lost art.  With the above noted slides being “so good” people would naturally reuse them.  Their presentation would then be made up of beautiful slides from a number of presentations.  The problem being that there was enormous amount of redundancy from slides to slide.   For example, slide 1 would make points A, B and C.   Slide 2 would make points B, C and D.  Slide 3 would make points C, D and E, etc.    Since the slides were so good and complex no one would want to alter them.   The result were long presentations that wandered making the story line hard to follow and comprehend.

How many have seen the following slide deck:

Slide 1:  Logo, title, name and date
Slide 2: Overview of company and/or presenter
Slide 3:   

If you have, you know you immediately experienced shock and awe.   Here the presenter didn't follow the basic rules of storytelling.    There was no lead in or build up to the punch line.  How many jokes are funny if you only tell the punch line?  Presenters need to understand that while you have prepared for the meeting your audience hasn't.   They've come from another meeting or another activity and need to be grounded in your discussion.  If they don’t understand or don’t know the joke they certainly won’t get the punch line.

The lemma to this problem is when the presenter spends too much time building up the punch line.  Slide after slide of “market data”, “industry trends” and other “look how smart I am” slides will quickly have your audience checking their email.   It’s true to assume that your audience doesn't know the subject as well as you do, but don’t assume they’re complete moron’s either. 

Two last points for this post.  One, does anyone actually care about the number of slides?  Some slides may only be on the screen for 10 seconds as a segue or for re-grounding.  Some slide may be on the screen for 10 minutes to illustrate (simply I hope) a complex concept.   It’s about telling a story.

Two, how often do you linearly deliver a slide show from start to finish in a lecture mode.  Yes, there are time such as when giving an actual lecture or presenting at a conference.   However, many times your slides are there to stimulate a conversation.  A really good slide regardless of the visual quality could be one that you leave on the screen for 30 minutes and use as a reference.   Presenters, learn to "zig and zag".  Know your slides well enough where you can jump back and forward to keep the conversation flowing.  Combine that with good meeting management skills and you will rock.  

Give me a shout if you'd like to discuss.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Solution Marketing -- Ensuring 1+1 > 2 (Part II)

In part one the solution model was introduced.  In part two the basic fundamentals are discussed.  The focus here on "solution" is when a company is trying to leverage more than one product to create a sustainable competitive advantage against companies with either one of the products or both of the products. 

For discussion purposed the model for a product is defined in the figure below.

H (x) is the transfer function of the product.  I(x) and O(x) are the inputs and outputs of the product.  The inputs are acted upon by the transfer function to produce the outputs.   M(x) is the management interface to the product.

It is imperative that you never underestimate the value of M.  Management or the larger ongoing operations of a product is a large continuous expense (OPEX).   It’s a dominant part of the total cost of ownership metric that is widely discussed.   Operations are embedded in the organization.  The personnel responsible for the management may not even be the people who use the actual product.  Product managers and solution managers must be cognizant of how the customer uses the product, deploys the product and manages the product.  

The solution model below is comprised of two products P1 and P2.  

The goal is to create and market a "solution" S1.  The follow is an introduction to the process. 

1.       Do not [start] create a solution where S1 < P1 + P2
a.       In other words, if you are creating a solution make sure you nail 100 % of each product in the first generation.
                                                               i.      Even table stakes
b.      Customer expectations and knowledge are based on the entire product details of P1 and P2. 

2.       Do not insert P3 between P1 and P2

3.       Ensure M’ =or > M1 + M2


Now the real challenge, real value and real competitive advantage arise.   Once the transfer functions H1 and H2 are fully understood the next step is to optimize and reduce the sum of them.   H2’(x) < H1(x) + H2(x).   The feature set and functionality is only reduced if it is determined that there are functions that are not required.  

For example:

H1(x) = A + B = C and H2(x) = C x D = E [Output 2]

Then H2(x) = (A+B) x D = E

The interim value of C does not need to be calculated and acted upon.   This overly simple example illustrates how the combination of two transfer functions can be reduced to add value.  Some higher tech examples include:

1.       Less die space on a silicon chip
2.       Faster execution of software functions


1.       Since the interface of O1 and I2 are embedded in the solution they need not comply with standards.
a.       Over time you can optimize this interface since it’s internal to the solution.

2.       M’ can also be evolved to optimize M1+M2 and to add solution-centric enhancements.

    This post begins to articulate how companies can gain a sustainable competitive advantage by creating a real solution.

Contact me if you'd like to learn more.

Greg Whelan
+978 992 2203

Monday, May 13, 2013

Messaging - The Billboard Metaphor

Today, marketing is dominated by social media. If you sell to consumers you must have a Facebook presence. If you market to businesses you must have a LinkedIN presence. Everyone is on Twitter. How does the marketer get their messages across in this media world? The old 30 second TV ad is too long these days. No one reads 12 page whitepapers any more, even if you now call them "e-books". No one is fooled. With ADD (attention deficit disorder) being a global phenomena what's the correct way to think about your messages.

The answer is the BILLBOARD.

“I would have written you a shorter letter if I had more time”

This quote in various versions has been attributed to Twain, Cicero and Voltaire.  It doesn’t matter who actually said it first. What matters is it defines the role of marketeers today.  

To get your message across to overwhelmed consumers requires marketeers to sharpen their pencils and spend the time to write the shortest letter possible.  These “letters”, whether documents, presentations or videos, need to get the key message(s) across quickly.  The apt metaphor is the billboard.   

Billboard marketeers need to get their message across to drivers in less than a second.  Think of driving down the highway at 65 mph and glancing at a billboard.  You don’t have time to read lines of text.  You have time to grasp an image and a key phrase.  That’s why billboard marketing is the ultimate form of messaging.  Creators must boil the value proposition over and over again until they have it terse to the nth degree.  Figure 1 shows some examples that illustrate this point.


Figure 1
Examples of Effective Billboards
Source: Google Images

These examples are effective since the leave the view with a clear message of the value of the product.    Looking at the first on, we see a tasty hot dog and are asked whether we love dogs.  If we do, we leave with the action to think Pink’s.  The second example hits the viewer with a simple message:  Natural, a pineapple and Skyy Vodka.  

Call  978 992 2203 to discuss how billboard marketing can work for you

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Energy Management in IP and Mobile Networks

Energy Management in IP and mobile networks is a nascent marketplace.  Why focus on this area?  First, the Internet is expected to consume 4% of the world’s electricity up from 2%.  Reductions in this area can have tremendous economic and environmental benefits.  Currently IP Traffic growth is exponentially outpacing energy efficiency in both fixed and mobile networks.  A small percentage of energy savings translates into $Billions in energy cost.  Savings here, as in any OPEX, results in cash delivered to the bottom line.

Second, sustainability for service providers and large companies is moving beyond saving money to becoming a strategic competitive advantage.  Consumers demand “green” and sustainability enhances the brand.  With a “bit” being a “bit” and a “packet” being a “packet” the brand image is critical to capture and retain customers.  Additionally, the global financial markets now link sustainability to management sophistication.

This is an emerging area which will be covered in depth in the new sister publication:  Greywhale Research.  Contact me for more information.