Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My marketing plan for CW and EcoHub

Collaboration Workspace is a great forum through which SAP can leverage its community strength to inspire new and innovative products in the market. However, this brings along with it certain challenges:
  • Redundancy: Although innovation is highly encouraged, there is a need to eliminate redundancy that emanates due to similar business needs and requirements. Some of the workspaces might not be aware of already existing solutions in the market that fit their needs. Also, other workspaces might be discussing the same business needs with a slightly different flavor which will lead to duplication of effort.
  • Cliques: With over 3000 workspaces and 99% of them private, there is bound to be a closed community feeling and the old adage of two heads are better than one does not apply across the board. There is less than ideal amount of information sharing that takes place which is detrimental our end goal.
  • Low Participation: Even though it is considered a great meeting place to discuss ideas, customers and partners might not be convinced if the idea warrants a significant investment in a new product. Also, getting to the workspace might be lower on the list of priorities owing to other commitments during the day.

I will address these challenges with the following programs

  1. More Collaboration: Investment in a light weight and efficient search tool which will encourage dialogue between workspaces and partners
  2. Share Successes/References : Focus on developing customer/partner success stories which will help induce more participation.
  3. Mobility & Convenience: Develop an iPhone App to provide increased access to collaboration workspace.
  4. Stimulate Involvement: Create promotional campaings and e-mail feedback mechanisms to get everyone actively involved.
  5. B2B Marketing: Leverage the assets developed through customer references and success stories to reach out to the market and expand our footprint.

Detailed Plan

More Collaboration: Invest in an efficient search tool which will be able to link different workspaces based on content and suggest the moderators to connect to each other. This will increase efficiency and encourage sharing of information which will eventually work towards our end goal. The underlying assumption here (to avoid legal complications) is that SAP has full authority on the content of the workspace and it can be indexed for a search. However, this information will be indexed only for the tool and will not be shared with an outsider.

This tool will be extended during CWs integration with EcoHub as it can be designed to index EcoHub’s product portfolio and make recommendations to the workspace participants. This will drive revenues for our partners and educate them about our EcoHub portfolio, while eliminating the need to re-invent the wheel.

Timeline: The development and deployment of this tool should take no longer than 3 months. It can use existing search technology already used with other SAP web 2.0 products.

Share Success/ References: Success is contagious and so is risk taking. Partners who are sitting on the fence on whether to invest in the new product need a push in the right direction. In this regard, we will develop success stories about products/solutions that have been developed through CW and distribute them in the community. Also, these stories will be featured in key publications like SAP World, SAP Netweaver,, etc. It will generate the necessary buzz inside and outside the community and nurture innovation.

Timeline: Assuming there are partners willing to share their stories, each success story would take 6-8 weeks. We would develop two stories for a start and then take a decision to continue based on how well they are received.


Mobility & Convenience: It would be safe to assume that a majority of our target audience is not able to get to their workspace during their work day. Hence, it is important that we make it as easy and convenient for them as possible to be involved. I will invest in an iPhone/iPod-Touch App for CW for our customers and partners. It will give them the opportunity to share ideas instantly especially when not around a computer. It will be ideal during working lunches, networking events and conferences when access to a computer might be difficult. It also creates our presence in the iPhone App market which is a new and upcoming development platform.

Timeline: The iPhone app would take anywhere between 3 and 6 months to be ready for the market (depending on Apple’s approval process).

Stimulate Involvement: In order to encourage participation, I will run a promotional campaign to award an iPOD touch (with pre-loaded CW App) to the "most outstanding CW contributor for the month". The KPIs for contribution will be developed based on the quality of the posts, creativity, applicability of the requirements and the progress made towards development of the actual product.

This will provide incentive and encourage newer/more shy members to make their presence felt. Also, smaller prizes like SAP memorabilia (flash drives, mugs, jackets) can be awarded for other criterias on a weekly basis.

In addition, I will send out gentle reminders to participate through “Wrap Up e-mails” to all participants at the end of the week. This will highlight the activities in their respective workspaces along with discussion snippets. This will encourage dormant participants to voice their opinions and get involved.

B2B Marketing: After developing customer success stories, it is very important to direct as much traffic to our workspace as possible. This can be achieved effectively by being involved in trade shows and conferences which have an SAP flavor (Sapphire, TechEd, ASUG etc). Also, other competitor trade shows (Oracle World) and online communities can be considered.

I will also consider developing a whitepaper with Gartner or AMR to highlight the benefits of online collaboration and include it in our marketing campaigns. This will give an independent perspective to the market and should increase new memberships.

Finally, I will actively target the professional community on LinkedIn and other social networking websites who would fit the bill for our target audience.

Program Cost Estimates:

Search Tool - $25,000

Customer Reference - $15,000

iPhone App - $10,000

iTouch & Promotion - $5,000

TechEd/Sapphire Pods - $40,000

Gartner/AMR Paper - $30,000

Total Estimate - $125,000

Note: These are rough estimates and we will focus on top priorities while the Gartner paper would be nice to have. However, if we are able to achieve significant cost savings in our initiatives, I will strive to implement all of the above programs to achieve maximum results.