“A picture is worth a thousand words; a brand is worth a million” - Anonymous.
A great technology platform brand is hard to find. I walked through an expo hall of a technology conference the other day, I found 28 technology platforms I didn’t knew existed. They may be great technology platforms, but they’re not great brands.
The technology platform not only provides a foundation for internal teams to innovate quickly but also provides external stakeholders to build innovative solutions on top. It not only provides an abstraction and hides underlying layers of complexity (hardware, software, data) but also provides an easy self-service interface so others can build value-added platforms on top of it. It provides valuable insights and personalized user experiences to each customer by absorbing real-world data and analyzing it with other disparate data sets. The platform is the nervous system of the technology company and the data it manages is the life blood.
Today, most successful technology companies have a platform that it manages. This technology platform is core to the company’s strategy and helps drive its technology vision. The company’s ability to refine and invent quickly to customer’s requests, experiment with new business initiatives and effectively scale to reach the global audience not only determines its success and its position in the technology industry but also influences the cool-ness factor that entices new technical talent to join the company.
Hence investing in building a technology platform brand is extremely important these days.
What does it take to build a world-class technology platform today? What are the important ingredients of a world-class technology platform and strategies to create a world-class technology brand?
First, you have to hire great people who can build awesome products. There are no compromises on this front. These are prerequisites to build high-quality highly-available platforms that solves real problems or enhances everyday life. If your platform sucks, and you are not doing anything about it and nobody is using it, there is no platform. No matter how hard you try, you cannot build a great technology brand. That’s obvious. In this blog post, I am assuming that you have smart people in your team and they are building awesome innovative products and services that customers love. There are still a few more things you need to do in order to create a world-class technology platform brand:
Evangelism is based on Passion; Passion is based on belief. We start believing when we realize that what we are evangelizing really changes peoples’ lives. Every “high-octane” employee in a technology company has a potential to become an evangelist for the company! Real evangelism is contagious and it spreads with every “gospel”. This is the key ingredient of the recipe!
- The Art of Story-telling
Stories are data with a soul. Evangelize by telling stories – stories that discusses benefits (and not features) of the platform - stories that captures and capitalizes on emerging forward-looking trends in the market, stories that highlights how individuals and businesses can improve productivity, reduce costs, increase speed and performance or whatever you are evangelizing. When you believe in your platform and when you master the art of story-telling, you will start making an impact and build a brand perception that matches the product reality. See Building Powerful Web Applications : a Love Story.
- Two-way Amplifier
Every approved spokesperson in the company needs to be a two-way amplifier. Amplify the company’s vision and the ‘Voice of the CEO’ outside the company and amplify the ‘Voice of the Customer’ inside the company. Providing structured feedback about products (new feature requests, complaints, enhancements) to people is as important as telling the world about your technology platform. Being an evangelist, AWS sent me to talk but I was there to listen and learn. After every trip, detailed trip report goes to every senior exec and service owner of the company. Internal evangelism (and getting everybody on the same page) is as important as external evangelism.
- Maintain a Regular Cadence in the Conference Circuit
Content is King; Content Distribution is the Queen. Its important to be out there, on field, talking to fans, customers, partners and competitors. Conferences are best place to network. Sometimes the “Hallway Track” is more influential and effective than the session tracks. Keeping a regular cadence of your platform’s latest innovation fresh in the minds of people who regularly attend key technical conferences is important. Share intelligent growth stats and metrics in your presentations that demonstrates the scale of your platform.
- Invest in the Ecosystem
None of us is strong than all of us. Partners and community accelerate the value of your platform. Just like eating your veggies AND doing exercise both are important to stay healthy, investing in your platform (scale, new features, ease of use) AND investing in your ecosystem are important to build a successful brand. Not integrating with other technology platforms is not optional. It is essential to integrate with all Social Platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, …), Mobile platforms (iOS, Android, WindowsPhone), Cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, Google,…) and provide out-of-the-box integrated SDKs in all language platforms (Ruby, PHP, Java, .NET, Python, …) .
- Reach the global audience quickly
In the world in which all of us have a short attention span and need updates in 140 characters or less, we need to communicate our idea quickly and convey our message in concise and precise manner. Our world is getting flatter everyday, and hence we have to think global in everything we do. Short succinct videos targeted at a global audience is one great strategy to reach the masses quickly.
A great technology brand tells a story of how it improves lives, transforms the way you do business today and solves real problems. It takes time to build a great brand and hence its important to invest in your technology brand early in the process and above data points are few ideas that can help you build a world-class technology platform brand.