|Over 18,000 Global Readers and Growing! August 2, 2011 - Issue 2-6 CloudSpeak|
With the budget battle done, it’s time to head for the hills, beaches and other vacation locations. I’m no difference and enjoying a few days of pleasure. But the news must roll on and I’m committed to getting my CloudSpeak newsletter out to you! Then it’s back to my summer reading. I’m reading the “Talent Code” book on my Kindle. Let me know that you are reading this summer!
This issue is focused on the launch of our CloudNation brand. Plus we have wonderful updates on our SMB Nation Fall conference (September 30-October 2, 2011, Las Vegas) here. And don’t miss our messages from Intronis, Calyptix and Cisco.
ALSO - Stop by the SMB Nation booth at the CompTIA Breakaway event and give Tom Poole and ReginaC a "Big hello"
At SMB Nation, we are currently experiencing one of the most significant changes in our 11-year history to ensure we hold a significant place as thought leaders within the new cloud computing world. My intentions are to use this article to introduce you to Cloud Nation (www.cloudnation.co) — a brand extension of SMB Nation. No, SMB Nation is not going away. Instead, this new announcement holds similar to when we announced our expansion into the telecom space five years ago with Telephonation; and most recently when we introduced our inaugural MVP Nation event in March. I hope by the end of the article, you will be thinking about your own brand extension strategy to improve your managed service provider (MSP) practice, reseller business and computer consulting service.
So just what is this “cloud computing” thing that everyone has been buzzing about for the last year or so? Simply stated, in its most pure format, cloud computing “reverses” much of the work that traditional SMB Nation tribe members have performed over the past decade, or maybe even longer. In fact, Microsoft is keen on finding the secret sauce to makes its “classic partners” more transactional with “cloud power.” My research indicates that the “old guard” has the most difficult time embracing cloud computing and the water cooler/hallway talk in Redmond confirms this.
There is a segment of our tribe that readily embraces cloud computing and has no need to engage in a paradigm shift: young at heart, mind, spirit and age. The Facebookers and Tweeters have no “issues” with living in a cloud computing world, and thus have no need to change their behavior. In fact, this “Generation Cloud” demographic is readily reducing its technology hardware footprint, conducting much work via mobile devices. Call it “computerless in the cloud.” It’s unlikely these folks will never know about a server farm unless they tour an Amazon data center on the Columbia River in Central Washington!
Imagine what you’d do with a fresh start? What if you could toss out what is currently not working, and improve what is working? In many ways, cloud computing offers that generational reset that allows you to amortize away your toxic assets and start over. There is something romantic with pulling a technology geographic and breaking old habits, and embracing a pattern interrupt in your career.
I will share my own experiences to effectively make my point. SMB Nation’s lease recently expired in our old office space, so we moved to new space not far from our former Bainbridge Island location. Simple story; however, this particular move had no technology brain damage — just the usual physical “brawn” damage from doing a week-end self-move using U-Haul. Over the course of a two-day move, SMB Nation was up and running 24x7! Our telecom service is hosted VoIP using Cisco phones. Our CRM system is basically an ERP cloud solution called “NetSuite.” Our e-mail and basic storage are hosted Exchange and SharePoint respectively. There was no “tension in the tummy” as to whether the server would properly reboot (come on – you know the feeling) at the new location. We simply plugged into the RJ-45 wall jack, and our transferred business-class Comcast cable service was up and running pronto! Instead of rebuilding a crashed server, we were sipping on a cool beer by Saturday afternoon. Simply stated, cloud computing facilitated the most efficient and easiest move in my career!
Then there is “travel-travel” and all the madness life on the road brings. Cloud computing simply allows more productivity while away because the resources you need as a knowledge worker are easily within reach from your airline seat at 40,000 feet. Go ahead, insert your own “increased productivity while traveling cloud story” here. Also, don’t get me started on “working vacations,” as my spouse reads this magazine cover to cover, and I am a closet workaholic.
Other notable justifications for embracing cloud-centric computing include mental health days (where you peek at e-mail and other tech stuff while emotionally healing from the rough-and- tumble work week), real sick days (caring for your little ones and being more productive than you are at your work desk) and weather days. Here is a true story. During the winter of 2010/2011, we enjoyed zero downtime and amazing small staff productivity. Contrast that with our client/server roots and the disruptive winter of 2006/2007, when I literally had an employee quit over the amount of snow days we had to take.
Supply Curve Shift
Time for a dismal science lecture vis-à-vis our Pocket MBA mindset. There are macro forces that can, will, and should, change your life. In economics, the change in technology from client/server to cloud computing is disruptive. It’s a shift in the supply curve, and you really need to read the following carefully. You supply your expertise as a tech to the free market. It’s been a fantastic ride, and you enjoy take-home pay approaching the low six figures (see our salary survey in SMB PC magazine issue 5-4 at www.smbnation.com). So take a bow, and while bending over, give yourself a kick in the butt. You need this shift kick to motivate yourself to reinvent your skill set to embrace the new reality of cloud computing in the SMB channel. The ways you made money historically are changing because the services you supply will not be in as great of a demand. Rather – you need to supply new services.
Case in point: let’s look at how digital cameras and photo processing have virtually changed the photography industry. When digital photography first came on the scene, the hard-core, old film photogs said they would never embrace it; it wasn’t as good as the “old way” of doing things. Fast-forward more than 10 years later, and you would be hard-pressed to find a photographer who doesn’t shoot digital.
But just like digital transformed the photography industry, cloud computing is expected to do the same for the IT world. But don’t have a “mini-freak-out” just yet. Take a deep breath, and come back inside from the ledge. A highly motivational
speech by Robert Lane (co-founder, Commodore Computers) at SMB Nation Spring, amounted to a rally cry of ending the “pity party, and to stop crying and whining. Lane shared the challenges his firm faced in the early 1980s when up against IBM with its new PC Jr. (aka “Peanut” with the infamous Charlie Chaplin spoof TV commercials), and with hard work, innovation and know-how, he won the battle! It’s deja vu all over again with cloud computing.
At Cloud Nation, we intend to be your knowledge buddy as you expand your intellectual portfolio to offer in-demand services of great value to your customers. First up is the sheer migration work that will occur over the next five years as older technology is replaced with the new. A simple example concerns the voice world. Trust me – you will be replacing on-premises TDM-based telephone systems with hosted VoIP systems for the foreseeable future. Other skills we will promote and educate you on include professional services such as CRM/ERP implementations, business process and workflow consulting and even social media services. You might even elevate into the rarified air of becoming a cloud aggregator (a topic that warrants another article for sure).
Mild Resentments, or Reactions?
The telecom crowd is largely embracing cloud computing and actually represents a competitive threat to the traditional SMB Nation tribal member. Talking with customers, attendees and sponsors, the data networking crowd is engaging in a “religious war” akin to DOS v Windows battles in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Recognizing that community conversation exists, there is a popular SMB MVP tour underway that is promoting a balanced conversation giving equal weight to on premises solutions. Visit www.sbsmigration.com for more information on WW cities, dates, venue locations to attend.
Defining Cloud Nation!
So now we get to the crux of the article – the introduction of Cloud Nation (www.cloudnation.com). Our strategy with Cloud Nation is to embrace, honor and continue everything good about SMB Nation (and our original Small Business Server roots) while extending our brand in a complementary and congruent way. Much like you, we want to play the cloud reindeer games, and explore what awaits us all.
The specific foundation pillars to Cloud Nation are:
• Community portal. As a robust third-party community portal, we want to serve as an analytical apex of cloud activity in several segments including the SMB channel, small business owners, customers, in-house IT and even enterprise and government. You can think of Cloud Nation as a “connector” that brings together several diverse communities for a richer conversation. You can also think of Cloud Nation as an “intermediary,” which informally connects buyers and sellers (you provide IT services, and perhaps a live breathing customer will stumble upon you seeking your help).
• Media Content. We started as a capable and credible publisher and that isn’t changing with Cloud Nation. Look for us to continue publishing our magazine, books and digital content. The only difference is that we won’t lead with the news at Cloud Nation. Rather, we’ll lead with community engagement.
• Events. Rumors of the demise of in-person events have been greatly exaggerated, to slash and burn a famous quote. Humans, including you, are social animals. I recently attended a sold-out cloud technologies conference hosted by QuickStart that had a waiting list! Our intentions are to create the same with Cloud Nation, and you’ll see that play out starting with the 9th annual SMB Nation Fall Conference (September 30-October 2, 2011). Not surprisingly, look for online events and even short format in-person events (our famous Beerfests).
• Education. We are revamping our Pocket MBA program to better meet our customer needs. We’ll release more details on this in a feature article appearing in our September-October issue.
• Marketplace. No, we are not going to be a distributor, like our strategic partner D&H Distributing. Not gonna happen. But what if we used our community expertise to encourage reviews and ratings for cloud application boltons?
Join Cloud Nation at www.cloudnation.co
Intronis Amongst Us!
Intronis Cloud Backup + Recovery is a world class online backup solution for the IT Channel. Intronis provides the industry’s easiest to use secure data solution for offsite and local backup. Intronis is built from the ground up for the IT channel
Intronis, well known for its backup solution, also has industry leading customer success, account management and support teams. The customer success program is an onboarding process, which leverages a customer success manager (CSM) as a consultant for each partner’s initial onboarding process. This program contains a series of training steps to ensure all partners are utilizing best practices for their Intronis solution. In addition, Intronis has a dedicated account management team who is our partners’ go-to person throughout their partner life cycle. And, as always Intronis has a U.S. based support team, which provides quick and prompt response by a knowledgeable person.
In summary, Intronis offers the industry’s best cloud backup solution and the highest levels of support and services for our valued partners.
Perhaps The Best Description Ever!
This “cloud definition” offered from Microsoft executive Thomas Hansen during the SMB keynote at the Microsoft WW is one of the best I have ever heard. The idea is simple. Thomas maps the progress of mankind from the agricultural era – industrial era – cloud era!
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Engineering your marketing
In todays era of marketing it bodes well for those who understand the technical sides of things. This is not to say that aesthetics and design are not important, however understand how computers process and packets are routed give you a leg up. At Cisco we have found that marketing is much like designing a network, where have an access and core layers.
The core of your marketing like the network is where all prospects traverse through on their way to becoming a lead. In the case of marketing it is a centralized landing page or microsite. Landing pages are similar to a page on your website, but focus on the solution you are marketing and calls to actions (request a quote or consultation) are clear. Your main website is designed to cover all that you do and can distract a prospect causing a loss of leads (like dropping a packet due to poor network design.)
The access layer of your marketing are all the individual marketing tactics that you do to drive prospects to your landing page, such as a banner ad, SEM, email, or handing out flyers. All these tactics help funnel prospects and the more you can funnel to the landing page the more likely you are to produce a lead. While I know that is a fairly simplistic view of marketing, the reality is marketing is fairly simple it just takes commitment and consistency.
Here is a base line marketing activity that you can do for a minimal budget.
This will make calling prospects more strategic and less daunting.
Cisco has a full set of email and landing page templates for you to use along with an email tool that will give clicked and open information a www.ciscopartnermarketing.com. Cisco also has several guides that help you create a marketing plan and execute on individual marketing tactics on Cisco Partner Central (http://www.cisco.com/web/partners/sell/smb/integrated_marketing.html).
If you are not a registered Cisco partner and want access to this please visit www.cisco/go/smbnation to found out how to be come a Cisco partner.
May / June 2011 SMB PC Magazine is HERE! Download NOW!
You can download HERE
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