Hats off to SUN Microsystems, which celebrated 25 years in business in 2007 with an online cut-price sale, offering up to 65 per cent off. Offers were limited and it wasn’t a strategic shift in Sun’s approach to the market but it was, at least, something outside the norm.
Sadly, Sun’s efforts at publicising its sale were so far inside the norm that they almost parodied the IT industry’s reputation for tedium. If you have the inclination, you can go to YouTube to watch what is possibly the dullest corporate video ever – among some pretty stiff competition. At the time of writing, Sun’s video had 232 YouTube views compared to the third trailer for The Simpsons Movie that has notched up 1,987,000.
Now, only a fool would suggest that IT vendors are not a force for good in the world or that customer satisfaction and investment protection aren’t their top priorities. But maybe they could do a little bit more for their loyal customers. Sure, those executive jets won’t pay for themselves but I believe the enterprise IT industry is ready for more of this type of sales activity, especially over the quiet summer months of July and August.
The power of advertising
For example, instead of scheduling long meetings on hot days, consultants should have massive consultancy telethons. They could even be advertised: ‘Have you got yourself into a spiral of business transformation that you can’t escape? Are you suffering scope creep and don’t know which way to turn? Are your projects piling up? Just call this number and speak to one of our highly qualified specialists who can help you through the maze and set your business back on the road to efficiency and profitability. We cover business transformation, platform migration, security policy and many other types of project management from design to deployment. All for just £9.99 per minute* (*From a BT landline, mobile network charges may vary). Or visit us at www.getITbackontrack.com. We’re here to help.’ Okay, so you’re still paying the £600.00 per hour, but you have the option of hanging up at any time so that should help them focus.
Instead of having conferences in far-flung places like Vienna and Atlanta, enterprise software companies could come up with more innovative ways of imparting their knowledge. Online is where they should tell us how their products will ‘energise your value chain’ and how they deliver ‘service oriented architecture, adaptive business networks and other cutting-edge solutions and strategies’.
How about a pay-for-access website with subscribers receiving discounts on software and services? It could be a Software-Service-as-a-Service (SSAAS) model. This kind of thing would also be very web 2.0 and reduce your carbon footprint. SAP, Oracle and others could then use their enterprise experience to make a proper go of targeting the SME sector and really competing with Salesforce.com and Netsuite. Just think of the incentives they could offer: ‘If our CRM isn’t fully working in 12 months, we’ll give you your money back. (*Conditions apply, offer does not include financial modules and other selected products).’
Some companies could get quick returns following acquisition sprees by offering a ‘buy one, get a discount on something totally unrelated’ scheme. They could do it during a summer event that explains to users how all the different companies they’ve acquired will one day fit together. I won’t name names but EMC and Oracle know who they are.
And finally, Microsoft could give away a free game of Monopoly with every copy of Vista. Actually, that’s just silly, who ever heard of Microsoft ever giving anything away?