The EI's have been discussing the importance of branding the term "cloud." The actual question posed to the group was:
Since everyone is “cloud” today curious to see how everyone views it in the market. Is it becoming passé or in the words of Gartner has it entered the “drought of disillusionment”?
How important (or not) is cloud in a company’s marketing today?
Inquiring minds want to know…
Which is a great question and we had robust discussion on the various definitions of cloud and its importance in bringing a cloud-based solution to market. But it begs a rather important issue... namely how important is it to define terms for a market?
If you're a technology vendor... very. Afterall, as a vendor if you define terms such as "cloud-based" to align 100% with the solution your organization brings to market then, as a vendor, one of your marketing claims can obviously be that your organization provides a 100% cloud-based solution. If you're buyer has a technical bent, this could be very important to their buying process.
If you're an influencer of any ilk, its also extremely important. Afterall one of your jobs is to educate and to demonstrate your insight regarding a market, business model, technology, trend etc... You're being paid for your smarts...so again defining terms for your clients/readership is important.
What about you purists out there? Well if you care about creating and promulgating objective definitions of technologies or products then hell yeah, you want to get those definitions out there.
But if your thing is taking products to market... is defining terminology important? Well of course... but why? Well, I can think of two very good reasons...
(1) If you're role is to drive inquiries for your demand funnel, one of the key ways to stuff the top of the demand funnel is through market education... defining a promising term is valuable in that regard.
(2) But there's an even better reason... the best, surest way to win is not by going head to head in a crowded market but to create a new category of market, a new category of product, something your prospective customer absolutely has to have. To create a new category requires an extensive investment, not only in the product but in your go-to-market strategy. It demands a level of investment in market education and market building that is heavy but is sooo worth it because if done right, you're the only one in that market category and guess what, you're the leader!
An obvious example of category-building is what Apple has done, not only with the MP3 player market but by rejuvenating the Tablet market -- both were category building exercises and both have paid impressive dividends. The reason I believe customers are struggling with the market category of "cloud-based solutions" is that no one provider has created a compelling set of truths around this market definition. I think there a number of competing market truths out there.
But at the end of the day the only definition that's truly important is what's in your customer's head, so as marketers you should "vote early and vote often"... with every communication help your prospective customer to build an intelligent definition of the products that match your solutions.