FIR B2B podcast #147: Marketing Lessons From the Open Source World With Priyanka Sharma

This week we talk to Priyanka Sharma, who is the General Manager of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. The group has assembled a massive collection of 600 vendor members, ranging from little-known startups to the biggest companies on the Internet. The foundation is the steward of more than 80 open source projects that support Kubernetes, Prometheus, Vitess, Envoy and other technologies that deal with distributed data structures, network policies and cloud orchestration. The foundation helps to put on an annual conference, which has a business value track this year, and has a library of webinars to help spread the word about the revolutionary technology called software containers. She told us during the podcast that “Life isn’t a zero sum game and we have to work together” to help market cloud tech.

Our interest in this portfolio is high — Paul has written most recently about the foundation here for SiliconAngle.  We spoke to her about her role at CNCF and the tactics the foundation has found to help mainstream IT adopt cloud and container technologies, getting her members to agree on a single standard, how to sell open source to the prototypical “pointy-haired boss” and what tech marketers can learn from the cloud evolution that they can apply to solve their own business problems. You can listen to the 20 min. interview here.

FIR B2B podcast episode #147: Language matters

Last week Volkswagen tried and failed at an April Fool’s prank that involved changing its name to “Voltswagen” in recognition of its belated line of electric vehicles. The name change was confirmed through its press channels before Volkswagen eventually revealed that it was “only” a joke. Only a lot of people in the media weren’t laughing, believing that they had been manipulated as part of a marketing stunt.

The issue once again emphasized how tone-deaf companies can be in light of their reputations (Remember the whole diesel stats fiasco?) This brings up the topic of how to be cautious about your choice of language. The issue is particularly relevant in this time of hyper-sensitivity to issues of race, gender and disability.

An older article on The Hill has several examples of neutral language, such as using “pro-life” rather than “anti-abortion” to describe sides of that sensitive issue. My podcasting partner Paul weighs in on a recent experience he had writing an article about autism in the workplace: many of those folks prefer to be called “autistics people” rather than “people with autism.” The latter approach, called “individual first,” is favored by people with disabilities but autistic people don’t consider themselves to be disabled. Language has been widely used to shape the gun debate as well.

We’re seeing corporations increasingly weigh in on social and political issues and the need to be sensitive to special interests has never been greater. The most recent example is voting rights bills that are being considered by various statehouses. Several large companies have weighed in on the issue, with language ranging from blunt in the case of Delta Airlines to Microsoft’s more nuanced approach. And media, who likes a good fight, has largely overlooked the numerous bills that expanded rather than restricted these rights, something that the Brennan Center has tracked extensively.

You might want to take some time to review these links to understand how much language matters these days and to think twice about how you express your corporate position. You can listen to our 15 minute discussion here:


Greg Ness has a long track record of helping nurture tech startups to success. Now he’s a “fractional CMO” dividing his time between diverse emerging companies like DigitSecSmartStory Technologies and NetBeez.

Greg has made startups his speciality over the past 20 years, including full-time rose as VP marketing at Vidder, Cloudneeti, Vantage, Redline Networks and CloudVelox.  The concept of a fractional CMO is an interesting one because it allows startups to purchase just enough marketing resources without having to commit to a full-time position. Ness brings a cadre of domain experts with him in a package he calls “go-to-market-as-a-service.”

Working for several companies concurrently means he can quickly cross-pollinate great ideas and also nip potentially bad marketing decisions in the bud. In this podcast, we discuss why marketing needs for startups differ from those of established companies. You can’t just transplant tactics that work for big firms; you need to rethink your tools and techniques to fit each company’s circumstances.

Greg is more comfortable with technology topics than a lot of tech CMOs that Paul and David have met. His Archimedius blog reflects his insatiable curiosity about all things tech and his 20 years in Silicon Valley. In this interview he talks about how he balances his work load among multiple clients, what tech entrepreneurs most often do wrong and what the best ones have in common.

You can listen to our 24 min. interview here.

Resolving the issues between remote work and enterprise security

I had the opportunity to be the guest on the White Bull video webcast series recently. I spoke about how to understand the conflicts between working from home and keeping your enterprise secure, understanding what the differences are between zero trust networks and multi-factor authentication, how the idea of a secure perimeter has changed over the years, and other practical suggestions about managing and protecting passwords. The webcast was about 50 minutes:

FIR B2B podcast episode #144: The future of virtual events

While we’ve all been staying home and being virtual, Paul has done some original research and I have written this white paper for Network Solutions on helpful tips and tricks for IT pros that are involved in supporting virtual events.

The results of Paul’s informal census is that folks can’t wait to get back to F2F. We all have been in our pandemic bubbles for far too long and the urge to have human contact and serendipitous hallway meetings is a big reason to return to the rubber chicken circuit. But we’ve all learned a lot in the meantime about what makes virtual events successful. At its heart, you are putting on a live TV show with a very small staff to handle the production. You need to plan accordingly on the mixture of live and pre-recorded segments and figure out what tech you are going to use, including the video conferencing and the event management tool. (The two are different and you should understand the differences, which I explain in my paper.)

But virtual events have their purposes, including creating content that can be archived and used for marketing purposes long after the last attendee has disconnected. Unlike physical events, this content can be helpful in bringing in new customers and supporting new marketing campaigns, as well as supporting existing customers with FAQs, for example. And they can be very cost effective to produce, since you aren’t picking up huge travel and event hosting fees.

Listen to our 17 min. podcast here:

What endpoint protection solutions are available today (conference talk)

We are experiencing a changing nature of cyberattacks, especially as the world has moved towards more working from home. These attacks have evolved with the changing nature of our enterprise networks. Back when everyone was working from well-defined offices, we could definitely state that there was a difference between what was considered “outside” and “inside” the corporate network. But then the Internet happened, and we all became connected. Even before the pandemic, there was little difference. With the advent of the cloud, and definitely since the pandemic began, we are now all considered out. We are all working from home, using devices that aren’t necessarily ones that IT has purchased and sharing them with other family members. In my talk talk, I want to identify some trends that have changed the endpoint detection and response marketplace, and examine a few of the EDR products and show how they have evolved as well to meet these new collection of threats.

In this talk, which I gave at the Work From Anywhere conference sponsored by 1e in London, I describe some of the challenges and compare 1e’s Tachyon with two other endpoint tools, Tanium and Carbon Black.

FIR B2B podcast #143: Mitch Ratcliffe On How COVID is Making All Marketing Local Again

Mitch Ratcliffe is a business, product and content marketing leader with 35 years of experience in local media, technology marketing, online and broadcast publishing. Among the successful businesses he’s helped launch are the ON24 conferencing platform and BuzzLogic influencer marketing agency. He’s also served on the founding board of directors of Mitch shares our publication lineage with roles at Ziff-Davis, CMP and numerous other publishers. And he has a bionic neck

We spoke to Mitch about this recent post on Metaforce, his current digs. It touches on the changes that COVID-19 has wrought with modern B2B marketing. The new rule, he asserts, is to let no communication be wasted but also let no message waste your customer’s time. Engagement is an exercise in listening and serving, not selling.

One of the lasting effects of the pandem is that customers are embedded in their lives, not our brands.  That means the last marketing mile matters: The local network of SMBs and service providers associated with your brand creates a base of deeply engaged influencers who can work on your behalf. All marketing is going local in COVID’s wake. 

Listen to our 20 minute podcast here.

Webinar on overcoming fragmented data and improving the customer experience

In today’s changing times, tech companies must renew their focus on customers, and use their data effectively to create a holistic, 360-degree view of those customers. With this view in place, they can both improve the customer experience and better inform product development in order to attract new customers and retain existing customers. Facing fragmented data, slow and fragile data pipelines, growing demands and increasing costs, legacy data warehouse solutions are no longer sufficient. Enter next gen Cloud Data Platforms. With integrated data and seamless sharing, tech companies can now serve real-time analytics, scale up operations, and enhance the customer experience. This will take you to the slide deck for an IDG webinar that I did for Snowflake.

FIR B2B podcast episode #142: Why B2B marketers should care about “The Social Dilemma”

The movie The Social Dilemma is now streaming on Netflix. It’s been widely reviewed, and most of the reviews are positive.  (You can read my review for his Avast blog here.) It combines documentary-style interviews with leading minds formerly at Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Instagram and so on, along with star turns from Shoshana Zuboff, Jaron Lanier and Renee Diresta. The thesis is that the social giants have sold us and our data down the river, and we now are stuck with the results.

Paul Gillin and I discuss the wider implications about the movie for B2B marketers, particularly for the tech world that we both know so well. While neither of us learned anything new, the movie does portray a dark and dangerous situation situation developing. We feel that the time has come for advertisers to band together to acknowledge that this is a problem, to fight platforms’ tacit support for conspiracies and hate speech and to educate the public about how to be careful in their own consumption of social media posts and misinformation. There are several privacy suggestions in both the ending credits of the movie and on David’s post that could be starting places for a discussion.

Earlier this summer a group of advertisers banded together to boycott Facebook. The NY Times wrote about the results here. Basically, while many advertisers went dark, most of them came back in August. The revenue impact on Facebook wasn’t significant and many smaller businesses really have no choice but to use the platform.

We’d love to hear from you with other suggestions on how we can work together to improve the social media landscape. You can listen here for our podcast commentary about the movie.

FIR B2B podcast #141: How Domo pivoted to a virtual conference — in just 12 days

Business intelligence software firm Domo had been planning its March 18 Domopalooza conference for nearly a year. About 3,000 customers and partners were expected to flock to Salt Lake City for four days of technical training and meetings, capped by a concert by the Black Eyed Peas. But as quarantines and lockdowns began sweeping the world in late February, Domo made the tough call to take the conference virtual, with just 12 days to make the shift.

Chief Strategy Officer John Mellor spearheaded the shift. In this interview he summarizes the rapid series of decisions Domo had to make to pull off a successful virtual event that ultimately attracted more than 12,000 visitors. There are more details in this story that my podcasting partner Paul Gillin wrote for SiliconAngle.

Mellor turned a three-day event into one 90-minute plenary session that mixed live conversations with pre-taped segments, along with a series of dozens of break-out sessions that could be streamed on demand. He focused on delivering great content, driving a higher attendance and better engagement through a well-defined user community. He also saved a bunch of money, even after paying the no-show fees for the various in-person aspects of the event. In our podcast, he discusses his decisions and why he expects to take a “virtual first”  approach to future events.

Listen to our 21-minute podcast here: