14 février 2011

6 plus 6 lessons from the 6th Forum SaaS et Cloud IBM - Club Alliances - #FcloudIBM #SaaS #Cloud #IBM

The 6th edition of the "Forum SaaS et Cloud IBM" is behind us now.
Let me share 6 plus 6 lessons we have learned by running this bi-yearly SaaS and Cloud Event which slowly becomes "Legacy" both for Club Alliances Members and for the entire IBM Partner Ecosystem.

6 Signs of Success : The Forum SaaS et Cloud IBM has gained Momentum ! 
  1. We deliver value on SaaS and Cloud to the Channel : The Forum SaaS et Cloud IBM is currently the only meaningful SaaS and Cloud event that is repetitive [every 6 months !] and solely dedicated to the IBM Partner Ecosystem [both for existing and prospective partners]. It brings both Cloud enablement, P2P networking and BizDev opportunities to hundreds of ISVs, Integrators, SSOs, Resellers, VARS, VADs, MSPs, CSPs, Consultants and IBMers. Overall satisfaction is high, both for networking/partnerships opportunities and for expertise and experience sharing.
  2. The Forum SaaS et Cloud IBM is now considered Legacy : In less than 4 years, we have managed to run 6 editions of the Forum SaaS et Cloud IBM. After a rebranding from "Forum du Club Alliances" and "Forum Solutions-as-a-Service" to "Forum SaaS et Cloud IBM", it seems now that  the Forum is well established in the SaaS/Cloud landscape.
  3. It brings visibility and credibility on SaaS and Cloud : Club Alliances' websites, blogs and members, including IBM, benefit from the increased visibility and credibility brought by the Forum in the area of SaaS and Cloud [simple Google searches can easily demonstrate it]. By posting and sharing meaningful content [articles, presentations, photos, links...] in our "Inbound Marketing Infrastructure" [Blogs + LinkedIn + Viadeo + Twitter + Slideshare + InfoBOOM + etc...], we leverage the Social Business trend to get exposure.
  4. Subject Matter Experts are delivering : Several Club Alliances Experts like Thierry [Marketor], René [PAD], Patrice [Aspaway], Thierry [ESDI] and Loic [IBM] consistently share their expertise in conferences, workshops and working sessions. They are joined by a growing force of SaaS/Cloud BizDev Experts like Xavier, Laurence, Paul-Antoine, Yann, Denis, Laurent, Hubert, Philippe, Alain, Pierre, Isabelle, Nathalie, Jack, François, Christine, Vincent, Matthieu or Jean-Marc [spot their last names in the Forum's program!]. And some IBMers join, too, like Patrice, Fady, Fabrice, Vincent or François to name a few [Christian, Philippe, Lionel, we missed you this time!]. . 
  5. The Forum is lightweight and resilient : As the Forum runs on a shoestring marketing budget, it is quite immune from budget cuts and sponsoring issues. The cost of organizing and running the Forum is kept low thanks to the involvement of Club Alliances experts/members and the leverage of social networking and social marketing. Besides, the Forum formula is now well tested and each new edition is easier to run and almost guarantees a minimum of 150/200 satisfied participants!
  6. We launched the 1st Forum SaaS et Cloud Métiers : In November of 2010, Club Alliances organized the 1st Forum SaaS et Cloud Métiers dedicated to the promotion of SaaS, Cloud and Solutions-as-a-Service to End Users.With this Forum, we address the business issues of Verticals like Banking, Distribution, Healthcare... and LOBs, like Human Resources, Sales and Marketing, Finance - Administration [CFO] or Information Systems [CIO] with SaaS and Cloud based Business Solutions. We believe that this Forum Métiers can become a second Forum SaaS et Cloud franchise!
6 Areas of Progress : From Consumption to Production and Sharing... with Alignment!
  1. Attract 1.000+ participants : 350 enrollees, 200 participants is not enough!. Today, a majority of  participants come from rogue emailings, Club Alliances networking and social media stunts. With Marketing alignment, we can leverage IBM [and Club Alliances members] even more to make sure that Forum's promotion and invitations flow better inside IBM and towards IBM's existing and prospective Business Partners.
  2. Better align Marketing initiatives : Today, IBM and Club Alliances organizations launch disconnected and competing marketing programs with no guarantee of return, resilience or repeatability. Many could benefit from aligning with "resilient marketing tools" like the Forum SaaS et Cloud IBM, le Forum SaaS et Cloud Métiers or the Club Alliances. By integrating at least SaaS, Cloud, Channel and SMB initiatives, we can make sure that content, expertise, lessons learned, visibility and credibility are leveraged and reinforced by all interested parties. Let's try to stop the traditional "not invented here" and "silo" syndroms!
  3. Better align with IBM Marketing processes and resources : Building on an aligned marketing strategy, we should also be able to get increased support from IBM Communication, Press Relations, Channel Marketing and Market Management resources. As for now, they may still consider the Forum like a "Rogue Initiative" ran by some french Club Alliances or "Channel Sales" guys, outside quarterly marketing plans, rules and processes. Let's work on this!
  4. Share expertise even more : Today, a majority of Club Alliances members attend the Forum, but many do not really contribute to the creation and sharing of meaningful content [ie presentations...] even if they understand the power of Expert Content for SEO and, subsequently for their SaaS Busines. Will better alignement help us find ways to get them even more involved? Any other ideas?
  5. Leverage IBM Subject Matter Experts : Today, it is quite difficult to book IBM speakers and booth holders and get them fully involved, while, at the same time, Club Alliances experts are happy to share their experience and expertise in focused workshops and booths. By involving IBM experts and sellers earlier in the process and making them fully aware of the Forum well in advance, we can for sure drastically improve their commitment. Your suggestions? 
  6. Facilitate production and sharing of contents and links : We find it still difficult to gather meaningful and SEO friendly presentations and links. Many speakers and sellers do not really see the value - or are afraid - of sharing documents publicly and widely, outside the Forum itself. How can we get them to post and share their presentations on Slideshare, Scribd or Youtube ? Thus, we easily embed them in blogs and bring them to Forum participants, but also to "no shows" and remaining prospects! Can we train them to the power of Social Business, Social Media, Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing and Curation ? Yes we can!
What are YOUR lessons learned, ideas, suggestions to better leverage the "Forum SaaS et Cloud IBM", the "Forum SaaS et Cloud Métiers" and the "Club Alliances" legacy?

Even more important, what are your ideas to accelerate the development of our SaaS and Cloud Business, together with IBM and the Club Alliances?
    Feet on the Ground, Head above the Clouds, with IBM and Club Alliances

    Loic Simon - +33 6 76 75 40 71
    Business Development - Club Alliances IBM