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Two CEOs Lay Bare the Messaging Crisis Sweeping Across the ExTech Market
Welcome to The Digital Experience Report, your source for news, analysis, and insights on the ExTech (Experience Technologies) market and all things related to the Digital Experience.
In this report, we look at a crisis sweeping across the ExTech market, an upcoming webinar on the changing face of service management in a world of hybrid work, new analysis on Zoho's latest Creator release, new studies quantify the struggle of supporting hybrid workers (from Espressive) and the cost of bad experiences, and news from Zenoss, Algolia, Marchex, Uniphore, PagerDuty, Zudy, Whistle, Knapsack, Calven, BMC, Zero Systems, and Level AI.
Two CEOs Lay Bare the Messaging Crisis Sweeping Across the ExTech Market
Over the last several weeks, this crisis became apparent as I scoured the Internet for newsworthy items about the ecosystem of technologies supporting and enabling the digital experience.
I start each morning by scanning about a dozen news feeds and several social media lists, not to mention reading through the pitches sent to me directly. My objective every morning is the same: identify news that is important to executives as they strive to build their digital experience value engines.
(Note: if you have news you’d like included in The Digital Experience Report, send it to email@example.com for consideration.)
I review well over 200 news releases in a given week to find the handful of noteworthy items that I share with you in each report. And it takes quite a bit of time — not just because of the quantity of news, but because so many tech companies make it almost impossible to understand what the heck they do!
In fact, I’m going to risk being hyperbolic here and say that there is a growing crisis of garbled messaging affecting the ExTech Market.
The great risk is that this muddled messaging makes it harder for some of the best and brightest tech providers to break through the overwhelming noise and static created by a bunch of other tech companies that have lesser technology, but bigger bullhorns.
As I contemplated this situation, I was concerned that I was making a mountain out of a molehill. But as the week went on, conversations with two CEOs made me realize that, if anything, I was understating the significance of the problem.
The Market Gets Noisier and More Crowded, But Are Buyers Paying Attention?
There was a lot of great news about the ExTech market this week. Scroll down for the complete list, but here are some examples:
And there are ten more announcements just like these if you scroll down — new funding, new products, and new partnerships. It's all great stuff.
But a conversation with the CEO of a company doing over $1 billion in revenue made me wonder if anyone is paying attention.
Now, let me be clear — this CEO is one of the most innovative people I know. He's down-to-earth and laser-focused on digital commerce and the importance of the digital experience, and I have no doubt that he's well plugged into emerging technologies that impact his space.
Still, our conversation over drinks at a tavern near Gramercy Park swirled around the very real business issues he was focused on — things like marketing attribution and order management (its complexity and impact on the customer experience).
And while I’m confident that several of the announcements below could benefit his organization in some way, I’m even more confident that he doesn’t have the time to wade through press releases and several pages of a website before he has any clue as to the value they could offer him.
Unfortunately, that's precisely what I have to do most of the time. I'm not singling out the four announcements above or any of those in this week's report, but I regularly need to read through press releases very slowly and often click through to home pages (and even then, I usually have to go a few pages in) to figure out what a company does or the value that its new announcement may bring to the enterprise.
It's a grave concern because, as my second CEO conversation of the week made clear, it's often messaging that wins out over technology in the hearts and minds of would-be buyers.
Better Tech Loses to Better Messaging
Later in the week, I ended up in an impromptu meeting with the enthusiastic CEO of a tech company that is arguably at the forefront of its segment.
He was sharing that he believed we were on the cusp of a major shift to the "digital worker" (or "digital human") and that we were entering a time in which organizations were beginning to go "digital-first," meaning that they would now look to employ a digital worker before a human one.
I mostly agree, but I shared with him that the statement is at risk of getting washed out as tech companies across a massive spectrum of barely-related technologies are now using the term digital worker to mean any number of things. Likewise, while I understood his meaning of digital-first, potential buyers can easily construe that term in far too many ways as well.
While this tech company's technology is impressive and the leadership team is clearly passionate, I believe that the most significant determinant of its long-term success won't be the superiority of its tech, but rather its ability to control the narrative and win the messaging battle.
Despite this being a tech industry, it is those companies whose messages can break through the noise and static to resonate in the hearts and minds of buyers that will carry the day.
Why Messaging and Positioning Should Be Your Number One Priority (Almost)
I get where many tech company execs — especially at startups — are coming from regarding their relative inattention to marketing messages. Almost universally, they are super-intelligent people who understand the complexity of the tech they're delivering to the market.
They are rightly confident and enthusiastic about the promise of whatever technology they have created. And let's face it, they think the fact that they can make all of this new technology is cool in its own right — that's a big part of why they do what they do.
The problem is that they start to believe in their own field of dreams; if they can only build the best tech, the world will come. And sometimes, that's exactly what happens.
But not most of the time.
More often, fantastic technology is left un-purchased or (even worse) underutilized because enterprise executives, no matter how technically savvy, are rightfully focused on their business problems and not the nuances of how one class of technology or approach outperforms another.
They rely on a tech company’s messaging to tell them that story, and it is up to them to share it as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Unfortunately, most tech companies are failing this critical test.
Even as someone who makes his living analyzing this market, I will often read an entire press release and still be unsure of the value it’s promising or how it’s different. And if I’m not getting it, you can be sure that an enterprise buyer isn’t, as they’re never going to work as hard as me to understand what the company does.
So, if you’re a tech company exec, your tech itself should always be your first priority. But getting your message right needs to be its very close second. Otherwise, your tech may not end up mattering at all. And that would be a loss for all of us.
The Digital Experience Live
Join Charlie on March 23rd at 11 am EST when he joins ManageEngine for a live webinar to discuss hybrid work and the trends that have been driving the shift towards it. Learn how service management teams can equip themselves to tackle the hybrid work era and adapt in their support efforts. Click here to register.
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Latest Version of Zoho Creator Extends Technical Depth and Business Usability to Extend Solution Reach
Zoho announced version 6 of Creator this week, its low-code development platform. I had the opportunity to see it in advance and assess the state of its evolution in this analysis. Click here to read the article.