De B2B Paradox


Nooit eerder in de geschiedenis had een klant of prospect meer en betere kanalen tot zijn beschikking om zich te informeren en te communiceren met zijn (potentiële) leverancier.

Toch lijkt het, vanuit het standpunt van het B2B-bedrijf, alsof hij verder dan ooit verwijderd is van ‘de markt’. Alsof de klant of prospect bijna letterlijk van hem ‘wegsurft’. Blijkbaar is er een enorme kloof ontstaan tussen het product of de dienst van een B2B-onderneming enerzijds, en ‘de markt’ anderzijds. Wij noemen dit de B2B Paradox.

Het probleem is dat de klant een nieuwe dynamiek heeft ontwikkeld in zijn relatie tot het B2B-bedrijf, waarop deze laatste nog geen antwoord heeft gevonden. Men spreekt de taal van de klant niet meer. De marktregels zijn veranderd, maar de meeste bedrijven spelen het spel nog steeds op de oude manier.

Ieder B2B-bedrijf zal ooit in zijn bestaan de Vallei van de Dood moeten oversteken. Het is een plaats waar het niet aangenaam toeven is: het ligt er bezaaid met duizenden mislukte bedrijfsdromen in ontbinding. Maar daarover volgende keer meer…

Directions EMEA: 100.000 nieuwe Dynamics NAV-klanten op 5 jaar tijd


De voorbije jaren doken in de markt regelmatig geruchten op die de toekomst van Microsoft Dynamics NAV in vraag leken te stellen. Met deze indianenverhalen maakte Directions EMEA definitief komaf. Het komt erop neer dat Microsoft van Dynamics NAV dé ERP-toepassing wil maken voor de KMO. Meer nog: de softwareleverancier is bereid om er zéér zware inspanningen voor te leveren…

Terwijl er op 20 jaar tijd een (op zich reeds indrukwekkende) installed base van 100.000 klanten werd opgebouwd, dan wil Microsoft de kaap van de volgende 100.000 bereiken… in de volgende 5 jaar. Daarvoor pakt Microsoft uit met drastische prijskortingen, allicht met de bedoeling om ook in lagere marktsegmenten marktaandeel te winnen.

Voor cloud-omgevingen wordt volop de kaart getrokken van Microsof Azure. Er wordt, zo bevestigen mijn bronnen, zwaar ingezet op ‘Road to Repeatability': zo weinig mogelijk maatwerk en korte, standaard implementatietrajecten. Achter dit nobel streven van Microsoft  zit natuurlijk meer: het bedrijft leeft grotendeels van licentie-omzet, de inkomsten van het geleverde maatwerk gaan sowieso aan haar neus voorbij…

Eén ding is zeker: Microsoft Dynamics NAV-partners, consultants én eindklanten kunnen alvast op beide oren slapen wat hun toekomst betreft.

 

 

 

Microsoft Dynamics NAV apps for iPad, Android, Windows 8: finally!


nav2015ipad-620x393Surprise! The whole world can now download the Microsoft Dynamics NAV-app for iPad in their local app store (however in most countries, where the new ERP-backbone version Dynamics NAV 2015 is not available yet, you will have to wait a few months before being able to use it).

Sometimes, news announced on the sideline can be of more importance to the future of a company than big headline news. I believe this may be a major step in bringing Microsoft (back) on mobile devices in professional environments. Why Microsoft is so discrete about this announcement, I don’t understand…

Read the announcement on ZDnet

 

 

Now is the age of the marketing manager


In the pre-internet age: the AIDA-model

Before he internet, marketing used to be easy. It was basically a one-way communication that we could easily resume in the famous AIDA-model: Awareness – Interest – Desire – Action.

That’s how simple the marketing manager’s role was: he was the one who controlled the message. He just had to follow the four phases and the customer would buy ‘it’.

Competitive advantage? Thank you, Michael Porter

In order to be competitive, as a company you had basically two options according to Michael Porter: operational excellence (offer best price-value ratio) or customer intimacy (excel with your service and charge a premium price for that).

Today, customers are empowered

In 2014, customers are the ones who decide where, when and how they want to interact with you as a company. The brand experience is not in your hands anymore: they start discussing about you on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs and forums.

And – the worst nightmare – the traditional sources of competitive advantage are not sufficient anymore. You can streamline your operations to the max to offer a product with the best price-quality ratio; or you can invest in the best possible customer service in the market to justify a higher price for your product… and still remain unsuccessful. Because people don’t know it! Or don’t talk about it. (Or maybe they think Apple is better anyway…).

The new source of competitive advantage

So, a third factor has become the main source of competitive advantage: brand perception. Working on brand experience and how your brand is perceived in the market, is probably the most important business challenge in the 21st century. Which puts a new person in the driver’s seat to guarantee the future success of a company: the marketing manager.

The age of the marketing manager

We are living in the age of the customer. The marketing manager will  become the main living antenna pointing towards customers. He should be obsessed with how customers perceive and experience his company. With how customers talk about his company with peers and friends.

This is why the age of the customer is also the age of the marketing manager.

Panorama consulting: “SAP will continue to struggle in the market for smaller organisations”


Panorama Consulting just published an interesting review of the ERP market, comparing SAP to Oracle and Microsoft. Their conclusion can be resumed as follows: SAP will remain strong among large companies, Microsoft among ‘smaller’ (read the next paragraph) companies and Oracle… well, they are somewhat stuck in the middle.

Now, what is a ‘smaller organisation’? Panorama Consulting’s definition is somewhat unclear, but between the lines I can understand they refer to  any company that is not a fortune 500 company….   Well, to me (especially in Belgium), this means about + 99,9 % of the companies… confirming that Microsoft Dynamics would have by far the largest foothold in the ERP market in number of companies.

SAP’s position in Belgium?

What, then, is SAP’s position in Belgium? SAP claims they have ‘more than’ 500 SMB customers, representing about 77% of their total customer base (which means SAP has somewhere between 650 and 770 customers in total). Knowing there are more than 1 million registered companies in Belgium, this is not what I would call an impressive market leadership…

Actually, SAP’s worrying recent announcement that they are (re)launching a strategic division targeting the SMB market, is only an indication that their efforts in the past years towards the SMB market (with the solution SAP Business One) have failed…

User friendliness: only an argument for Smallbiz users?

Another interesting statement made by Panorama Consulting deserves our attention: “The other advantage of Microsoft Dynamics is that it has the simple look and feel of Microsoft’s Windows, which is often a key purchasing criterion for smaller organisations…”

I agree with the first part of the statement. This confirms what I see happening: that Microsoft is successfully (re)focusing on their historic strength as a platform company. Integrating ERP, CRM, Office productivity, Outlook, SharePoint… and making things simpler and easier for end users

The second part of Panorama’s statement is at least surprising: “…which is often a key purchasing criterion for smaller organisations…”. Should we conclude that convenience and user friendliness are  only important to small organisations and not to large ones? Unless I’m wrong, I believe that small and large companies employ people with roughly the same intelligence level and the same desire for simplicity, performance and ease of use of their business software!

So, between the lines I believe also Panorama’s second statement is also one in favour of Microsoft Dynamics.

Read the article by Panorama Consulting

 

Microsoft announces 18,000 layoffs, but more people than ever will be working for Microsoft


new-microsoft-logo2Microsoft announces 18,000 layoffs. What does this mean? That less people will be working at Microsoft.

Still, I’m convinced more people than ever will continue working for Microsoft.

What Microoft is just doing here (and has been doing for some time now) is reorganising itself into a 21st century company by getting leaner and outsourcing more and more processes to outside partners. This includes marketing processes, but just as well Partner support and even specific product developments.

Microsoft becoming a leaner, smarter IT-company. That’s what gives me full confidence they are on the right track!

 

 

 

 

 

Online videos more engaging than text


The prospect’s buying journey is an erratic process. In the past, as a supplier you could pay to get the prospect’s attention. Today, you have to earn hit. With a strong, compelling message brought online.


Why is video brought through your website, on your company blog, via Twitter, LinkedIn… far more effective? According to Forrester, 100 million internet users watch online videos every day. Other research shows that online videos are 27,4 times more engaging than standard banner ads, for example.

And it get even better: today, having your own product or solution video is more affordable than ever!