The former marketing communications consultant in me is always looking for any changes in our industries’ go-to-market approaches. In fact, I always have an eye out for alterations in messaging, the media employed and rationale behind its use and targeting, and mostly in how well the messaging aligns with industry trends and customer needs. Some might say I am describing good old fashion “thought leadership” initiatives.
However, it is much more than that. It is about communicating with precision and impact that resonates with a variety of stakeholders including ecosystem partners, employees, investors, even competitors but obviously and most importantly with customers.
My continuing fascination stems in large part from witnessing four decades of the history of the communications industry. In all that time the communications industry has demonstrated a unique inability to communicate to customers the value of the product and services it offers.
For instance, all too often product and service attributes are listed as bullets points describing a “Value Proposition”. What capabilities are and do is not how to describe the value they deliver. This has given the CIOs I speak with the feeling articulated in the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke by actor Strother Martin when he said, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
And, just in case you think I am picking on somebody in particular, let me assure you I am not. This observation holds for services providers, hardware and software vendors, “solutions” companies, big companies, little companies, start-ups, companies in the industrialized world, companies in developing markets, etc. In short, “E”veryone.
Where I am going with all of this? The answer is simple. When there is a recognizable sea change, whether by an individual company, a market segment or the entire industry it deserves recognition. It is why I found a recent conversation I had with Gary Holland, Portfolio Marketing Director, High Leverage Network, at Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) illuminating. We discussed the recent changes to the messaging for Alcatel-Lucent’s flagship marketing umbrella, High Leverage Network (HLN).
We started with the new graphics for the campaign. As pictured below, the picture chosen was interesting because it conveys not just interworking, but power. Holland explained that, “Our goal is to get our customers to understand that HLN is not just something you will buy, it is a portfolio of capabilities that work together to allow customer to leverage the value of their network.”
It is clear to industry observers that whether the buyers are service providers or enterprises, the ultimate decision-making power for technology purchases is undergoing profound change. Just as those of us who have been around for a while lived the transferring of purchasing authority for communications from the telecom manager to the IT managers, we are now seeing CFOs, CEOs, COOs, CMOs, and such new “Cs” as the chief risk management office (CRMO) and chief customer experience officer (CCEO), all having either a major or final say. Business process optimization and improving customer experiences to increase brand loyalty are priorities, and all technology purchases, short-term and long-term, now are under intense scrutiny for how they align with business imperatives.
You could argue that this has always been the case. The difference is as we move deeper into what I have characterized is articles and speeches as “The Age of Acceleration.” “E”verything is moving faster. Those who do not have the right technology in place and the right trusted providers to help them accommodate a world where the “new normal” is dictated by the ability to be ever more flexible and adroit will quickly fall behind not just their competitors but their customers as well.
That is an element of risk management that literally is undergoing a profound transformation. It is driving a requirement for purchasing technology with intent. It is why the cast of who has significant input and authority is undergoing a very rapid evolution. It does not mean IT departments are losing accountability, but they are losing some authority of what gets purchased, when, why, how and from whom.
IT after all is now not viewed as infrastructure. Rather it is what I call “Infostructure” —the hardware, software and professional services upon which enterprises of all sizes and localities rely upon. In an online, instantaneous world where accessibility and reliability are key, this Infostructure is the new utility. This is not just in the sense that it is like water, electric and gas, but also it is something that is something that generates usefulness. It must deliver more than basic functionality.
It is in regards to the latter notion of utility that the new ALU positioning of HLN looks and sounds properly aligned with what customers are demanding.
The three pillars should resonate with ALU’s service provider customers, and is equally applicable to enterprises as they become hubs of their own ecosystems that are network-centric.
The new messaging is quite deep, and you are invited to dive in for a look at the following links:
The point is whether it is explaining CloudBand capabilities, Open APIs, new mobile backhaul and small cell solutions, this is no longer about point products and services, it is about enabling customers to create and sustain differentiated value.
The challenges of Alcatel-Lucent have been well documented. Those of us who follow the industry are always looking for signs from any vendor that “they get it.” As Holland stated, “We are looking to address that new audience who can appreciate the value we bring, and believe we have a message that is powerful and can be fully appreciated by our customers.”
The context for all of this and the atmospherics now surrounding ALU should not be lost here.
- ALU in optical networking market is ranked first on product comparisons
- It holds a 35-40 percent market share based on revenues in submarine optical networking, and a 53 percent market share in packet microwave transmission.
- ALU is the world’s second leading LTE (News - Alert) supplier with a 24 percent market share
- It was responsible for 44 percent of the VDSL2 market
- The company's S3 segment managed service deals for more than 100 networks covering about 250 million subscribers.
The HLN umbrella as now positioned provides a nice wraparound for all of the above. It highlights that old Marshal McLuhan statement that, “The medium is the message.”
As noted at the top, I appreciate when the industry and its vendors are striving to assure their marketing communications are line with market realities, i.e., competitive challenges and customer wants/needs. Alcatel-Lucent has done a nice job is terms of its “currency” (double entendre as to being current and the coin of the realm are intended); it will be interesting to see how well it resonates.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi