Saturday, October 01, 2022

The Future of Software Innovation: IDC DevOps '22 event in London

IDC DevOps UK 2022 is one of the first face-to-face events that I've attended for a while. Since the pandemic, I feel like I've been working in a digital bubble. I've had fewer conversations than ever with Tech professionals outside my marketing technology field. So I find these events immensely valuable, like the experience (for me) of going into the office 2-3 days a week. 

Just a few weeks ago, I was talking to a CIO at a major insurance company about the challenges of bringing together 17 different companies that his company had acquired, each with its legacy systems and ways to run IT and Security teams. I would never have gotten that insight, sitting in a room with a bunch of marketers, working on 'buyer personas'

Jen Thompson, is the lead IDC analyst in Europe for 'accelerated app delivery' and an expert on 'The future of software innovation'. She delivered the keynote at around 9.30 am, just after our breakfast and networking session at 9 am. She talked about being fortunate to have so much survey-driven data about her industry, some of which she wanted to share with us. 

One challenge in DevOps is putting rules into place to enable innovation at scale. The demand for new applications is so intense and growing so fast that a competitive company must have an airtight system to deliver quality software quickly.

Jen also talked about how IDC has noticed companies moving from 'Digital transformation' into a digital-first strategy. For 81% of European organisations, digital innovation is the 2023 priority. Jen gave a few examples:

  • Vodafone – putting software development at the centre of the business, and they plan to triple their number of software engineers by 2025 (adding 7000 hires).
  • Lego plans to triple its software engineers in the next three years.

Organisations that can scale their software development and innovation will be the winners in the next five years. Then Jen mentioned three questions that have come up repeatedly, not only during this event but at another two-day CIO event I attended a few weeks earlier – CIO Connect at Sopwell House:

  • What tools do they have to help them?
  •  Do they have enough skilled technical workers?
  •  Do they have the right culture to meet rapidly growing demands?

There will be a 2x increase in organisations with an innovation-led approach. I couldn't help thinking of how these insights will play out in the UK; We are currently the 'stagnation nation' with flatlining productivity, employee shortages, and lack of investment (both private and public).

We need to think about how we design for speed and scale since 40% of organisations are telling IDC that they want to deliver more and faster than they have over the last two years.

The market delivers features in 4-5 weeks. However, 'Disruptors' (under 12%) release in 6 days or under – by 2023, it will be 20%. But those are the numbers for Europe. On the one hand, Germany and France are famously 30% more productive than the UK. However, on the other hand, the UK is ahead as a more innovative country. It made me think, how many of these 'disruptors' are operating out of the UK?  It'd be good to get those numbers for the UK.

After Jen's presentation, our very own Bernhard Klemm, Partner Solution Architect EMEA at Tricentis, started with a strong statement: 'The faster you can deliver applications, the more likely you can beat your competition and win retain those valuable customers.'

The majority of applications still take three months or more to be delivered. The reason for such long delays?

Bernhard told us that the top three challenges stated that complicate or delay the delivery of applications are:

• Integration with legacy systems

• Fuzzy and changing requirements

• The time necessary for testing and QA

To overcome those challenges and speed up application delivery, organisations have mainly invested in customer-centric practices like Agile Methodologies.

According to Gartner, by 2025, 70% of applications will be powered by low-code or no-code technologies.

The low-code technology promises to help developers save time by eliminating time-consuming, repetitive codes, freeing them up to ideate and create more intuitive applications.

As the barrier of "code" disappears, the benefits of test automation positively impact their daily life. Developers and Test Automation Engineers are more likely to engage with Low-Code test automation – where they can still use their coding expertise significantly – and retain their core skillset. In contrast, Test and Business analysts are likely to be more motivated to use no-code solutions.

The manager's role is to ensure that the team delivers the business value – fast and high quality. He doesn't care how their team accomplishes that goal. Does that seem familiar?

Bernhard explained that with Tricentis Tosca, you could Build No-Code, resilient automated tests through a unique approach that separates the automation model from the underlying application. This approach has proven to reduce the maintenance effort required for adapting test automation to frequent changes. Using Tosca, you can create a complete coverage of your value stream by supporting more than 160+ technologies and enterprise applications.

Bernhard ran through other products companies can use to deliver no code, low code automated and AI testing. But one that stood out in the presentation for me was Testim. Companies use Testim to automate web applications. Whether you are a manual tester, developer, or automation engineer, all users can use Testim to accomplish their goals. It's SaaS-based, Low-code and AI-powered to help you create tests fast, minimising test maintenance to keep releases on time.

We finished the day with a roundtable in which we asked a selection of senior DevOps professionals and application leaders this question:

Application leaders: Are speed and quality the key to achieving top business goals?

I manned the white screen and started writing out our table's answers. Early on, an application leader at BT said that quality would always be his priority. He said that quality must be guaranteed to ensure the functioning of his company's highly complex network technology. And the group agreed with this point, so we moved on to our table's question. 

-How do you build teams where quality is the entire team's responsibility?

Our table agreed that the solution to this was two-fold:

> Product-based teams

Ensuring that a team is working towards delivering a specific product makes sure that each member is fully invested in completing that product, whether an application, a new release, or even a newly developed piece of software.

> Culture

From culture, we talked about the theme of the day – the war for talent, and how all companies need more software developers, testers, DevOps analysts, engineers, and automation engineers. But as many commented, the talent pool did not seem to grow whilst the demand was.

We talked about the possibility of training. But the consensus seemed to be – if I train one of my team to develop the skills needed, such as to become an automation engineer, his skills become even more marketable. He is even more likely to be poached by a recruiter and leave my company after I've invested much time and money into him.

Tricentis Sales Executive Cillian Golden presenting Airpod Pros to an IT Director at an Enterprise Company.

This conundrum highlighted the issue of trust in the organisation. It seems to have broken down quite a bit. And managers and their teams are often at loggerheads. For example, recently, Microsoft commissioned a survey on working from home. 80% of managers thought their employees worked more effectively in the office. But for employees, it was the exact opposite. 80% of employees said that they worked more productively from home.

Under the question of 'Culture' we also discussed siloed organisations being a blocker to quality. That quality requires cooperation (altruism even), and inter-team coordination. And we agreed that innovation also needs those conditions to thrive. Our table decided on the following as our final point before the end of the afternoon:

>Negative – siloed approach, limited collaboration, low trust, not sharing information or resources

>Positive – Product-led, common goals, end-to-end ownership of app delivery value streams

I had no idea the moderator would ask 'the spokesperson' from each of the eight tables to outline what we'd discussed. I was selected to go through the critical points on the microphone, which gave me quite a kick of adrenaline at 4 pm – even better than a double espresso!

Saturday, April 02, 2022

What high performing sales & marketing teams do differently (and what you can learn from them)

Running out of ideas on how to create more sales at your company? Do you think you know everything about B2B Sales & Marketing already?

Ever heard of BANT?

Budget Authority Timing Need – OK, fair enough, you got it! it's how your Inside Sales Team will qualify a lead before passing it to the Sales team to continue its journey, hopefully, to close.

But how about MEDDIC?

Focusing on MEDDIC is what turned a million-dollar business into a billion-dollar business, according to Brian Halligan, founder, and CEO of Hubspot

"From $0 to $100 million, [PTC was] successful because we sold a better widget," HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan said. "From $100 million to $1 billion, we sold a shift in technology. MEDDIC became important because it's not just any old purchase — it's a transformation of the business."

You should consider using MEDDIC as a qualification framework if your company sells a product that requires a transformation in behavior or the average sales price is incredibly high, as understanding exactly how a prospect buys, why they would buy, and who's championing you internally is crucial to maintaining an accurate pipeline.

How about 'Sales & Marketing alignment'? - Did you know that because of the massive changes in how B2B sales work, some companies are no longer separating sales from marketing? Yes, that's right  They work together in the same unit/department.

Two companies I've worked at in the past that absolutely 'nailed' Sales and marketing were: Zscaler, founded in 2008 and now a $50 Billion company: And Visual IQ, which was founded in 2006 and is now part of Nielsen.

Both companies had a sales team and process that came from bigger organizations.

At Visual IQ, our entire sales team came from Adobe and used Adobe's lead development methodology. We were closing many million dollars a year annual subscription deals with companies like Target, Crate & Barrel, Honda, Amex and Bank of America.

At Zscaler, our sales team came from big companies like Fortinet, Paolo Alto, VM Ware and Cisco. Our sales bible, coming from our CEO Jay Chaudhri was 'The Challenger Sale'. At Zscaler our team closed deals at Barclays Bank, Wonga and Coats while I was there.

Back in the 00s, everyone said that successful sales were about great relationship management – you' wine and dine' the prospect, make them feel special, and listen to their every whim.

But then came 'The Challenger Sale

It revolutionized the way we look at sales 

– a book based on hundreds of thousands of data points from hundreds of companies. The Team over at Corporate Executive Board made a breakthrough – 'Relationship managers' did not close the most sales. In fact, it was 'Sales Challengers.' What do Sales challengers do that's so effective and different?

As a Challenger, you offer a new perspective to your prospect and don't shy away from conversations about money. You understand what brings them value and leverage that information to deliver an irresistible pitch — and to pressure them tactfully. Remember the three T's: You teach them something valuable, tailor the sales pitch, and take control of the conversation.

Here are the stats

  • 40% of high sales performers primarily used a Challenger style.
  • High performers were more than 2x likely to use a Challenger approach than any other approach.
  • More than 50% of all-star performers fit the challenger profile in complex sales.
  • Only 7% of top performers took a relationship-building approach — the worst-performing profile.

Another book that profoundly influenced me was 'Inbound Marketing' by Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan, founders of Hubspot.

The first key point in the book is the importance of creating a marketing flywheel of resources that not only hit every channel but also hit each sales stage, as well as utilize every type of content out there, from ebooks to videos.

The second key point I took is the importance of almost zen-like communication between the marketing and sales teams.

You can do all the lead scoring, ABM campaigning, and predictive analytics you like but if your Sales & Marketing teams are not communicating effectively, these strategies will have limited effects.

By 'communicating' I suggest having real conversations about how you are working together - the pros and cons; Don't be afraid to get down & dirty about what's going wrong!

These exchanges require having trust, being honest, and sharing vulnerabilities and mistakes on both sides. This requires psychological safety across the company. Even more importantly, this trust is built up over time. So if you have a bad culture and/or high turnover, that could be a problem.

At Zscaler, I met with our sales team & each salesperson once a week. Based on those conversations, we went through their target accounts and figured out approaches and campaigns.

At Visual IQ, not a week went past that I hadn't talked to at least three VPs of Sales at some length about their targets and how to accomplish them.

Why is it important to hold Your Teams Accountable With a Service-Level Agreement?

The Sales and Marketing SLA

An SLA agreement between a service provider and its customer guarantees a specific output. When it comes to sales and marketing, this is a two-way agreement, with marketing promising a certain number of leads to sales and sales promising to contact those leads within a defined timeframe. 

In this activity, you'll need your sales data for an entire year divided into quarters. You'll need to know the following:

● How many qualified leads did you generate? 

● How many of them became sales opportunities? 

● How many of those opportunities are closed to create new customers? 

● What was the value of each sale? 

A typical SLA: 

Every month, marketing will deliver ______ qualified leads to sales, and sales will contact each of those leads within _____ hours of receiving it. 

An SLA like that puts you in the top 5% of companies. But you can be even better than that.

The Judicial Branch

Sales and Marketing often jostle on almost every issue that crosses both functions. A typical conversation may sound something like this:

Salesperson: the leads this quarter were weak. That's why I missed my target

Marketer: What are you talking about? The leads this quarter are better than ever!

Now, this is a very simplistic way of demonstrating the problem. It may be similar to what I experienced at an Enterprise software company a few years ago.

Marketing had generated a lead through an event, which we then marketed to, mainly through email and some google ad retargeting. Finally, about nine months after this event, the lead broke through and eventually became a sale – one of almost $5 million (annual license). 

While attributing the lead, the salesperson claimed that this was a contact he had been networking with during this time; the lead was, in fact, a friend of his of over five years standing. This situation can be quite commonplace in industries like Telecommunications, or Insurance, which are amazingly incestuous; everyone seems to know everyone.

How did we solve this conflict? The Chief Commercial Officer split the lead source between sales and marketing generated. 

However, ideally, I recommend having a person outside sales and marketing make these decisions. For the judicial branch to be effective, it's paramount that its members are unbiased and focused on what's best for the company.

   click here  for more information on becoming a top 5% Demand Generation Company,

Friday, October 08, 2021

Marc De Jersey, ABC News reporter, Memorial Dinner

I came up with the idea to have a dinner to celebrate my close friend Marc's life. One of his greatest pleasures in life was to have a fine meal with close friends. So it was heart-warming that this event came together in such a spectacular way. 

Dominic Sutherland spoke movingly about Marc at this fifty-person event in Chelsea's 50 Cheyne. This was celebrating Marc de Jersey's life on what would have been his 49th birthday. One funny detail is that I am now good friends with David Yelland, who was editor of The Sun Newspaper when it published the story mentioned (about the A-lister actress).  For the full twelve-minute speech, click here.

Some of the highlights of Marc's life:

> Promoted to News Editor at ABC News in London

> Promoted to work on the news team at ABC News at their global HQ in New York City.

> Winning an 'Emmy' for his work at ABC News covering the 9/11 attacks

> Recruited on to a Senior Editorial position on the newsdesk at BBC News

> Working as a Senior News Editor on the SKY News desk, 2003-2004.

> Setting up Russia Today in Moscow, in 2005

> Covering abuses by major oil companies in the Amazon rain forest, for The Guardian Newspaper

Sadly Marc never did get around to taking his planned Ph.D. in Journalism or writing the thesis he had designed, which would have made a brilliant book. 

He did teach journalism for several years at the University of Cardiff and Lancaster, however. Here are some extracts from his Ph.D. thesis plan:

      The Rise and Fall of Russian Journalism 1990 to 2010 

Ph.D. Thesis, University of Cardiff School of Journalism, Marc De Jersey

When the journalist Anna Politkovskaya was found dead in the lift of her block of flats in central Moscow on October 7th 7th 2006 it made headlines worldwide. People were shocked and yet the intimidation and murder of journalists have been widespread in Russia since Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000. She just happened to be the most high-profile journalist with an international reputation. Her assassination was effective. It ended reporting from Chechnya. But what of the 13 Russian journalists who have also been murdered in contract killings[1]? The scores beaten up and intimidated? The hundreds of professional journalists who have been fired?

When I was in Russia I was taken out for dinner by a very senior Russian journalist who was trying to protect me from falling out with the Kremlin and the FSB. This was in 2006, four months before the death of Anna Politkovskaya. He failed but he sat me down and said to me: 'Let me tell you about the state of Russian Media at the moment: We. Don't. Care.'

I want to ask the questions what happened to Russian journalism? When? And most importantly why? When I eventually was deported from Russia I had a chance to look at some of those questions and interview a lot of journalists, both western and Russian, on the topic.

What firstly surprised me in my research is that there has been no substantive account or academic study on the subject. Yes, articles have been written or commissioned by the Index of Censorship, IWPR, CPJ, the Guardian and others, but none of them, though commendable, could be classed as academic. [2]

Next what struck me was what a complicated, rich and layered story this is in terms of subject matter. At the heart of the story is Russian journalism and its relationship to the government, but also behind this is a story of the Russian oligarchs entering Russian media in the Yeltsin years and then Vladimir Putin clamping down and closing TV stations that were critical of him via giant multinational Russian companies such as Gazprom. It is argued that the current state of affairs has led to an acute lack of pluralism in Russia. Also, Russian Television news is now 100% state-controlled and it is almost impossible to know what is happening in Chechnya at the moment.[3]

There are two reasons I think this project is important. The first is that it hasn't been done in depth at an academic level. The second is from an academic perspective: to the best of my knowledge Russia is unique in the sense that we have three very different political ideologies impacting freedom of the press in one country over a period of 20 years.

This is not an easy project. Getting Russian's to talk is often hard and sometimes dangerous. We'd be looking to interview Russian journalists, oligarchs and enemies of Putin, some now exiled, as well as leading academics in Russian affairs, NGO's and professional western journalists who have worked in Russia.

[1] NB: 'There is no evidence that the Russian authorities were involved in these killings, but they did stand accused of not having investigated these murders with adequate vigour and of having tolerated the conditions that allowed these murders to happen.' Professor Richard Sakwa, University of Kent, 2007.

[2] The Guardian's Luke Harding, himself deported from Russia, has written a book called 'Mafia State: Inside Putin's Russia.' This is not an academic work but more his story at the way he was treated by the FSB when in Moscow.

[3] Andrei Soldatov, a Russian investigative journalist, Frontline Club talk, October 24th, 2011..

Marc De Jersey-Lowney, Broadcast News Journalist

September 27th 1972 - May 23rd 2021

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Why aren’t millennials and gen z’s watching TV commercials anymore?


Have you ever wondered why the viewership on your TV ads is declining? You may want to consider updating your advertising strategy. Here are five reasons why millennials and generation z aren’t watching your tv ads.

1. Change of media interests.

According to the Deloitte Digital Media Trends, 26% of generation Z illustrate their lack of interest in watching TV, or any other media habit for that matter… stating that they would rather play video games. If this trend continues to upscale, now may be an excellent time to diversify your advertising approach, starting with gaming.

2. Watching TV, or maybe not.

Here’s the thing, your audience may say they’re watching TV but are they actually watching TV? Or have they got your ads playing in the background while scrolling endlessly on social media? If your idea is to draw in tech-savvy millennials and keep them engaged, you may want to advertise in places where your audience is bound to be looking - on their mobile screens!

3. They are streaming content

Quite frankly, Gen Z hates conventional television but is more in love with video content than ever. According to Visual Capitalist, “In 2011, the average 18 to 24-year-old millennial watched around 25 hours of traditional television per week. Today, they watch closer to 14 hours per week.”

4. Your commercials aren’t niche enough

- Stuff that gen z likes (Nike ad) as opposed to regular tv ads (Go compare ad).

Millennials are not only watching less TV, but they are skipping ads too. More than 70% of millennials skip TV ads altogether, according to OpenX’s survey. So creating ads with compelling, relevant content is crucial if you want to win the eyes of this particular generation. 

A regular TV ad video clip 'Go compare'

A gen Z 'niche' ad video clip - Nike 'Believe in something'

Spot the difference? the Gen Z clip, usually shown on Youtube, is edgy and cool. The other ad, shown on regular TV, is plain cheesy! But beware - the terrible Gocompare ad created no controversy, whilst the Colin Kaepernick Nike one generated a lot.

5. They are playing video games instead - or during your commercials.

Or they now just have your TV ads in the background. Check out 18-24s and 25-34s. Over 30% sometimes watch TV whilst playing video games, 20% often do that and 12% of Gen Z's always do it!

Read the full report HERE