The questions that didn’t make it into Vision from the Top

Each year SIIA sets out to pick the minds of individuals who are shaping and growing our industry. Just a couple of weeks ago we released the 2012 Vision from the Top publication that features interviews with these business leaders providing thoughts on trends, M&A activity, and the future of our industry.

While we went through the interview process we asked the contributing executives some questions that you won’t find answered in the publication which I thought I would share with you. We asked the member executives to look at Forrester’s 2012 Cloud Predictions and tell us which one would have the most significant impact in 2012. The majority of contributors said “The cloud market will grow beyond $60 billion in 2012”. What does that say about cloud computing? It is not just a trend, it is the way in which we compute today and if you are not providing or consuming cloud services you will be at a disadvantage in the marketplace. HOWEVER, we also asked which of Forresters’ predictions will be the biggest challenge in 2012 and the majority also selected “The cloud market will grow beyond $60 Billion in 2012”. Clearly the consensus is that the cloud market will grow but will continue to face challenges, likely around security, integrations, etc.

Another popular response was that “Large enterprises will take the lead in cloud markets in 2012”. I found this one surprising since the enterprises have made a much slower move to the cloud than the SMBs. However, what I am hearing from the members is that 2012 will be the year. We have certainly seen a significant investment being made by the enterprises with all the recent M&A activity. Every day I wake up and wonder which one of the SIIA members will be acquired today!

If you read Vision from the Top you will see that the contributors are either CEOs or large business unit leaders of enterprises. We wanted to get an idea of their personal technology choices so we asked some personal questions (at least in the technology world these would be considered personal). Not surprising an overwhelming majority of contributing executives use an iPhone as their smartphone of choice. And an overwhelming number said they also carry a tablet of some kind, no more lugging around those heavy laptops.

Next we invaded the social space of the contributing authors. We asked how many of them actively used Facebook and approximately 60% said yes. At first I thought that number was low until I saw the answers to the next question, do you activity use LinkedIn? An overwhelming majority actively use LinkedIn. That should not be a surprise given the business nature of the application. Now here is an interesting one, the majority of respondents do not, yes DO NOT, actively use twitter. A little surprising but I suppose these executives leave Twitter to their marketing departments.

 


Rhianna Collier is VP for the Software Division at SIIA.

SIIA Member Spotlight: Crowd Fusion, The Agile Data Model

I had a chance to talk with Crowd Fusion’s CEO Brian Alvey to learn how Crowd Fusion uses an Agile Data Model to shake up the market and get customer’s sites and apps to market quickly and efficiently. Brian is also speaking at Content VIA Platforms  on May 10 in San Francisco where he will share experiences and war stories gained working on behalf of major publishers interacting with Apple, Facebook, Android and other platforms.

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Kathy: Hi Brian, tell us about your Crowd Fusion, what you do?

Brian Alvey, CEO, Crowd Fusion

Brian: Crowd Fusion is high-end multi-platform publishing software. These days publishers need to do more than ever, but they need to do it with tighter budgets. Crowd Fusion makes it easy to publish the same content to all the latest platforms and devices — all without expanding their production teams.

 

Kathy: Who are your customers?

Brian: Publishers and large brands. Our platform has been used by TMZ, Warner Bros/Telepictures, Myspace, The Daily, Essence and Best Buy’s Tecca.com.

 

Kathy: Tell is what is unique about Crowd Fusion?

Brian: We invented an agile data model that lets us and our customers get sites and apps to market faster and iterate more frequently.

 

Kathy: What are some unique challenges you’ve experienced at Crowd Fusion?

Brian: We work with high-end publishers and big media brands, so we’ve had to solve for 3 kinds of scale: traffic, content and workflow. One of our strengths is that our platform is cloud-native. Not only can you manage content in our CMS, you can also launch new servers and coordinate infrastructure all using a web browser — even on an iPad.

 

Kathy: What do you see as the biggest trends in the industry the next 12-18 months?

Brian: Tablet publishing. Multi-platform publishing. Mobile commerce.

 

Kathy:  What do you hope to get out of your SIIA membership?

Brian: Meeting people who face the same publishing and technology challenges we deal with.

 

Kathy: One thing the industry doesn’t know about you or others in your company?

Brian: We are a completely virtual company. We have no real office space. Our team works from home, Starbucks, customer offices, grandma’s house, wherever. We have 30 people and they are spread out across 18 U.S. states, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Italy.

 

Kathy: Whats the best way to contact you?

Brian: On Twitter: @crowdfusion or @brianalvey for me, Or by email: brian@crowdfusion.com.


Kathy Greenler Sexton is Vice President

SIIA Survey: Marketing Executives Believe Social Media is an Effective Tool; Not Yet Investing Significant Resources

SIIA’s Software Division today released “Marketing in Today’s Economy”— the first SIIA publication to gather business-to-business sales and marketing tactics from leading industry executives. As part of the guide, SIIA joined with Lopez Research to conduct a comprehensive survey of more than 100 marketing executives in North America. The survey focused on their companies’ use of email, mobile marketing and social media to build their brands, gain leads, and improve customer support.

One of the most eye-opening findings from the study is that a gap exists between attitudes towards social media and investment in social media. About 90 percent of marketing executives surveyed use social media marketing, and three quarters believe it has a positive impact on their business. At the same time slightly more than half (54.5 percent) of respondents said their company’s marketing team spends less than 10 hours per week investing in social media. And further, 35 percent said they spend only between one and five hours per week on social media marketing.

Social media has clearly become a widely used tool among B2B marketers and few doubt that it is helping their business. But the survey also shows that marketers may not be dedicating the resources necessary to get the results they want from social media marketing. It is remarkable to see that, despite their strong belief in the power of social media, over one-third of marketers are engaged in it for only five hours or fewer every week.

The survey suggests that marketers do recognize the need to dedicate more resources to their social media efforts going forward. About 65 percent of respondents cited social media as an area in which they would like to invest more spending, and over 70 percent indicated they expect to increase their use of both Twitter and Linkedin in the year ahead. And importantly, marketers are beginning to apply the same ROI metrics to social media that they do for other marketing efforts, both offline and online. For example, 59 percent of businesses are using social media use web traffic as an indicator of social media ROI, while 53 percent are using qualified leads as a key ROI metric.

Social media is still a relatively new method for growing a business, but marketers clearly believe it is has value and will require greater investment. And with more marketers now applying traditional ROI metrics—such as qualified leads—to their social media efforts, they are more likely to get a clear sense of what level of investment makes sense. The maturation process of social media is clearly underway, and we can expect to see significant advancements in the coming years.

The survey looked at wide range of issues, and found a number of other results that are important for marketers—including:

75 percent of respondents do not outsource any social media efforts.
• Nearly 60 percent of respondents said that less than 5 percent of their deals began through social network interactions.
• Privacy is the top ethical concern in today’s marketing world.
• Most marketers predict that the biggest trend in 2012 will be greater communication and quantification of value to customers.

The Software Division conducted the survey in conjunction with Lopez Research during the fourth quarter of 2011. The survey interviewed 106 marketing executives, of which 88 percent were business-to-business marketers.

In addition to the survey, Marketing in Today’s Economy features commentary from 16 leading marketing experts whose companies provide technology solutions or services across a spectrum of industries. The authors offer expertise on a wide range of B2B marketing trends and best practices—from social media to search engine optimization and cloud marketing.


Rhianna Collier is VP for the Software Division at SIIA.

 

Interview with new SIIA member Socialize

I was delighted to recently welcome Socialize to the SIIA membership. I had a chance to catch up with Daniel Odio the CEO and Co-founder to learn more about the drop-in social platform. Read my interview with Daniel below.

Rhianna: Welcome to SIIA! Tell me a little about Socialize and the benefits for making apps social.

Daniel: Making apps social boosts app discovery (downloads) and user engagement (impressions). It creates a viral loop where users share content with each other and their social networks, which leads to more downloads, which leads to more users, which leads to more social actions all over again.

Rhianna: This week you made an announcement about notifications. Why is this feature significant?

Daniel: SmartAlert notifications “Bring users back” to the app. For example, when a user makes a comment on a piece of content in an app, and subscribes to that thread, and then another user comments on the first user’s comment, the first user gets a SmartAlert notification inviting them back into the app to see what the second user wrote.

Rhianna: You recently moved your company to San Francisco. Obviously, the Bay Area is the home of many great technology companies. How important is it for technology start-ups to be local to the Bay Area? Or does it matter?

Daniel: It’s critical. There’s a great article on my move west at http://go.DanielOdio.com/west. The environment in the San Francisco bay area is world class and results in the ability to make connections, make key hires, and iterate on the business at a speed that is unmatched anywhere else in the world. As I like to say, San Francisco is “Mecca for Geeks.”

Rhianna: You recently participated in a panel led by the Department of Homeland Security at CES. What are some of the privacy and security issues you face versus the traditional software/hardware vendors? How do you address and ease these fears?

Daniel: Often times the least secure part of a device is the human using it. And that’s where we focus – in this realm security concerns are mixed with privacy concerns. Oftentimes, users don’t know the implications of their actions by design – we work hard to abstract a level of complexity into an easy-to-use service. This means we bear a responsibility to ensure the user doesn’t compromise themselves in ways they don’t even realize. A big chunk of the value we add with our social infrastructure offering is to give the user ways to navigate privacy issues in easy to understand and friendly ways.

Rhianna: Finally, look ahead for me 18 months, what will be the biggest trends in social?

Daniel: Two big trends are converging and we’ll see them in full force in the next 18 months: The explosion of interest-based social, and the power of the Open Graph. Interest-based social isn’t the same thing as the social graph we all know from Facebook. It’s way bigger and more powerful. It’s the connections we all share based on interests, regardless of ‘friend’ status. For example, interest-based groups include people of the same ethnicity, people who love zinfandel wine, co-workers, people who love to sail, and the list goes on. We are all comprised of a series of interests, and for the first time, technology (and mobile in particular) is enabling us to map all those interests and connections, and begin to monetize them.

The Open Graph is an initiative by Facebook to get everyone to share all of their actions – what songs they are listening to, what they are reading, etc. This confluence of mapping interests to people and sharing of all actions will mean the power and reach of social will be exploding in the next 18 months. More about this topic at http://go.danielodio.com/interestgraph and a screencast on why mobile is way bigger than most people realize is at http://go.DanielOdio.com/waybigger


Rhianna Collier is VP for the Software Division at SIIA.

 

New SIIA survey highlights benefits/challenges of social media in education industry

 

Like most industries, the education sphere is continuing to experiment with and grow its use of social media. But which tools have proven most effective, and why? In a new survey by the Software & Information Industry Association, together with edWeb.net and MCH Strategic Data, education technology companies were posed the question: how do you use social media?

Social media allows companies to engage in conversations from a many-to-many standpoint – going beyond talking at customers – to including them in a conversation. The report, Social Media Marketing in Education, describes some of the challenges of using social media in this niche market, and highlights some of its benefits beyond lead generation and ROI measurements.

The benefits of social media in the ed-tech sphere include brand awareness, increased customer loyalty, and general market knowledge and insights. As one respondent stated, “it’s like creating a virtual 24/7 conference.”

However, the 182 education industry executives who were surveyed also pointed to the specific challenges they faced when developing social media initiatives. Though 35 percent of respondents stated that their company did, indeed, have a social media plan – the same percent reported that they had no defined strategy. Companies report continued challenges including finding staff to manage it and generating activity and content. Suggested solutions include repurposing existing content and spreading the information workload among insular experts within an organization.

As the trend to utilize social media tools continues to grow, the indirect benefits remain hard to measure, but difficult to ignore. One respondent states, “it’s a community that educates us as a company, turning the market into networks.”

To learn more about the current leveraging of social media networks within the industry, read the full report here.

CODiE Finalists: Cloud Management Solution & Collaboration/Social Networking Solution

Congratulations to the CODiE Awards finalists in Best Cloud Management Solution and Best Collaboration/Social Networking Solution!

Best Cloud Management Solution recognizes the best application or service used for managing operations or management programs, services, or applications in a cloud computing environment.

Finalists are:

Best Collaboration/Social Networking Solution recognizes the best application for facilitating group interaction via the Internet. Includes groupware, real-time conferencing, social networking applications and other services that allow for collaboration over the Web. This category also includes digital communities.

Finalists are:

Winners will be announced during a special luncheon at All About the Cloud on May 25th.

Announcing CEO Interview Publication: SIIA’s Vision From The Top

SIIA is launching a new publication at this year’s All About the Cloud conference, “SIIA’s Vision From The Top”!

The publication brings together thought leadership from over 45 of SIIA Member companies. Their CEO’s were asked to address the past, present and future changes in the software industry.