It’s All About Who You Know – Recommended Reading

Many years ago as I was transitioning out of the military into civilian life, I worked with a recruiting firm that placed JMO’s (junior military officers) into corporate America.  At one of their career fairs Roger Cameron asked everyone to share their favorite motivational saying and we all went around the room.  You can guess that in a room full of young, ambitious military guys (it was probably a 90% male group) the contributions ranged from inspirational to blustery, some as short as one emphatic syllable .  I hadn’t given the question any real thought and when it came my turn, I reflexively blurted out the ancient Greek aphorism “Know thyself“.  It sort of fell flat in that room, like I was answering the wrong question or something.  Twenty plus years later I see the truth revealed in how I answered that question, as self-knowledge has been one of my strengths and great stumbling blocks.  I’m old enough to see the experiences in my life where it’s been one or the other.

With that in mind, my recommended reading for this month is Peter Drucker’s timeless HBR article, Managing Oneself.   At the foundation of managing oneself is knowing oneself, and this article addresses the topic in some specific areas that are important at any stage of life or career.  It’s worth your time to read the article but more importantly, turn it into a homework assignment and write down answers to the questions posed.   I did it about a year ago and I still refer to the notes occasionally to make sure I got it right and that I am working on the right things.



Marketing, Fitness Data, Missing Links

I spent a day this week in the city (that’s San Francisco for those of you not in the “Bay area”) and besides the fabulous weather I enjoyed meeting with the head of biz dev at one of the industry’s hottest fit-tech/wearables companies, as well as checking out the Marketo Summit.   In case you don’t know who Marketo are, they are one of the leaders in marketing automation.   When you get an email from a company every month and the content is tailored based on the products you’ve ordered before, or when you click a web page and a few days letter magically get an email offer for the product you looked at, that capability is provided by some marketing automation solution.

Marketing automation tools rely on insight into customer behavior.  This can come from lots of sources – social media, data providers (it’s a bit scary how much data about you is for sale), records of buying behavior, as well as more direct interactions with the customer, such as click behavior on your website, engagement with customer support, etc.   One of my guiding viewpoints is that all that data being generated by fitness wearables presents a huge opportunity to gain customer insight, and although the Marketo show was a very horizontally targeted I did not see anyone talking about this opportunity.   One challenge is getting the customer to agree to give you access to the data – but if you are a trusted advisor (say a gym with personal trainers who can use the data to help the customer) that’s a surmountable challenge.  And if your marketing is smart and value-added, it will be well received.  This is an area of ongoing study for me, so I hope to share more on it as I go.

As long as I’m sharing info on what I learned at the show, here’s a handful of other (somewhat random) companies I checked out that I found interesting for one reason or another:

Bedrock Data – SaaS integration and data push/pull, targeted at the SMB.  Sort of a Snaplogic or Dell Boomi but priced and spec’d for the little guy.

Elixiter – Marketo consultants / implementation experts.  Based in Montana, tech center of the US.  Ha ha.  Seriously, I bet they all have a better quality of life than 99% of the people in Silicon Valley.

Spear Marketing – Just some nice guys in the marketing business.

Inside View – data aggregation to drive better customer insights and lead scoring.  B2B focused.  These guys provide a lot of that user data that I mentioned above to help you mage your sales funnel and do lead scoring.

Sprinklr – Hootsuite for the enterprise.

PFL – they merge your online and offline  with mailers and other customer engagement tools.

LeadMD – Scottsdale based Marketo (and Salesforce) implementation consultants.  If you are considering moving business apps to the cloud but think you need help, there’s a whole ecosystem of companies who can help you.  LeadMD is one such company.

Choosing a SaaS Solution

I’ve spent a lot of time researching SaaS apps that can help you manage your business, and it’s certainly a big and often confusing market.  It helps to have some guides and while I haven’t found a single one that covers it all, there are a few I found that are really useful.  Here they are, with a few of my own comments.

Getapp – one of the best, with lots of customer reviews.  Broad set of product categories.

ISV World – Cool service, covers all software vendors not just SaaS apps.  Useful for those in the analyst & investment arena as it aggregates financial data on the vendors.  Thanks to their machine learning capabilities the database is very large.

Merchant Maverick – More focused on the transaction and financial apps, especially merchant accounts and POS.

Capterra – Decent number of customer reviews and 300+ categories to help you search.

Cloud Showplace – Run by SaaS thought leader Jeff Kaplan, this directory splits up providers into the SaaS/PaaS/IaaS stack so it provides a view on the “cloud services” market that some of the others don’t.

IT Centralstation – A bit more of an enterprise focus with more input from “IT pros” as opposed to SMB owner/operators who lack IT staff.  You can create a free account or sign in with your LinkedIn account.

And there you have it.  A few really helpful resources to help you navigate the SaaS world.