Tuesday, August 26, 2014

MassTLC & Vecna Host Gubernatorial Candidate Jeff McCormick

Policy Update

MassTLC hosted gubernatorial candidate Jeff McCormick for a morning discussion Monday, August 18, at Vecna Technologies’ Cambridge headquarters, the third event in a series of meetings with Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates.

MassTLC President & CEO Tom Hopcroft and Vecna Co-Founder & CTO Daniel Theobald welcomed Mr. McCormick and leaders from several MassTLC member companies, including: Avaya, Cadence Design Systems, EnerNOC, Harvest Automation, Iron Mountain, and Microsoft.

Mr. McCormick is no stranger to the tech community. Educated in biology and finance, Mr. McCormick went on to finance and grow several early stage companies including the Twin Rivers Technologies biodiesel company. “The power of technology gets to the root of problems,” he stressed, and cited an example of how a MA software company is helping to reduce hospital readmission rates.

From left to right: Tom Hopcroft, MassTLC; Jeff McCormick;
Daniel Theobald, Vecna Technologies

Beyond technology providing solutions to current and future problems the meeting’s attendees explored how the tech community can further achieve regional economic growth and sustainability. By identifying ways to develop, retain and attract innovation-ready talent; strengthen the Gateway Cities; and increase the STEM and CS skills of MA’s future technology leaders, MA’s reputation for being a technology powerhouse will grow. “Wayne Gretsky skated to where the puck would be. Similarly our kids need to be educated for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Theobald.

MassTLC accelerates innovation and economic growth in the Massachusetts technology sector by educating public officials and advocating for policies that support tech sector growth, helping local tech leaders engage in state and federal programs and initiatives, and fostering collaboration between the tech sector, academia, and public officials. 

Keep an eye on our Blog for future updates and follow us on Twitter for daily updates.

Monday, August 25, 2014

MassTLC Launches New Demand Gen Peer to Peer Group

Posted by: Christine Nolan, MassTLC

Last Thursday kicked off MassTLC’s inaugural demand gen peer to peer group.  We had about 35 demand gen professionals in the room sharing best practices and strategies with the topic being “methods to increase early stage conversion metrics”. However, it quickly morphed into a conversation on sales and marketing alignment.  I wanted to share with you  two blog posts written by Zak Pines, Director of Marketing at Ipswitch that cover sales alignment and content syndication (a topic described as content advertising from many in our group).  The sales alignment post includes a link to the “sales rep” landing page idea that Zak shared with the group.

Future topics which are suggested by the group include:
  • Making lead nurturing work
  • Marketing analytics & reporting best practices
  • Predictive marketing
  • Lead scoring:  Necessary or Waste of Time
  • Database hygiene best practices

Our next meeting is scheduled for October 7th.  Mark your calendars, more details to follow shortly!

Thanks to all the joined us and to Jonathan Burg at Apperian that helped launch the group and facilitate the conversation.

If you are a head, director and VP of Demand / Lead Generation for a technology company and interested in participating in the group, please contact christine@masstlc.org with your LinkedIn profile and interest in the group.

Monday, August 18, 2014

MassTLC & InterSystems Host Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Baker

Policy Update

MassTLC hosted gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker for an afternoon discussion Wednesday, August 13, at InterSystem’s Cambridge headquarters, the most recent in a series of meetings with Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates.

MassTLC President & CEO Tom Hopcroft and Paul Grabscheid, Vice President of Strategic Planning at InterSystems, welcomed Mr. Baker and leaders from a dozen MassTLC member companies, including: Acquia, Cadence Design Systems, CloudLock, dSide Technologies, Google, KnowledgeVision, MassTLC Ed Foundation, NetProspex, Oxfam America, Rapid7, and Vecna.

The discussion centered on issues critical to the tech community and regional economic growth and sustainability: the challenge of developing, retaining and attracting innovation-ready talent; increasing computer science (CS) education in K-12 to educate future technology leaders; and expanding  transportation outside the hubs.

Mr. Baker is experienced in the tech and healthcare sectors through his recent post as Entrepreneur in Residence at the venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners, and his tenure as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.  He stressed his commitment to a strong education system and support for local aid. He also recognized the importance of developing “a real strategy around the cost of housing” as an important step in keeping young people in Massachusetts.  Mr. Baker cited examples of how strong public private partnerships (like those with our college and universities) are helping to create jobs and revitalize communities and offered that state government should do more to engage the tech community in finding solutions to enhance government productivity and efficiencies. 

MassTLC accelerates innovation and economic growth in the Massachusetts technology sector by educating public officials and advocating for policies that support tech sector growth, helping local tech leaders engage in state and federal programs and initiatives, and fostering collaboration between the tech sector, academia, and public officials. 

Read about our recent meeting with Democratic Candidate for Governor Martha Coakley, and check back soon for an update on our forthcoming meeting with Independent Candidate Jeff McCormick.

Keep an eye on our Blog for future updates and follow us on Twitter for daily updates.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Governor Signs Economic Development Bill

In the closing days of its formal sessions, the Massachusetts Legislature passed an economic development bill that includes many items that the Mass Technology Leadership Council and other technology and business groups strongly advocated for with lawmakers.

These items address some of the key issues that technology company leaders have raised with policy makers over the past year, as they relate to the overall climate for tech companies, support for start-ups and early state companies and shortages of skilled workers.  Other provisions create a positive regulatory structure for wireless technologies, focus on growth areas like Big Data and provide matching dollars for programs to develop computer science skills in elementary and high school.

Where consensus was not reached on other issues like non-compete agreements, representatives of both sides of this issue began a very important dialogue around how agreements like these affect the state’s ability to start and grow companies that need to protect intellectual property while at the same time retaining highly skilled workers.

We look forward to working with the Legislature and the new Governor on more ways to leverage the strengths of our technology sector and grow the innovation economy across the state.

We thank the Governor and the Legislature for their focus on the innovation economy and their support across the tech sector. Highlights of the bill follow.

Tech Highlights from HB 4377: 
  • Provides $1.5M to the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN) Program to develop and implement a plan establish computer science education in public schools across the Commonwealth. Requiring a dollar-for-dollar funding match from private sector contributions, the program will generate interest in computer science among underrepresented demographics and provide schools with course and curriculum recommendations aimed at strengthening the growth and vitality of the Commonwealth’s technology industry.
  • Creates a $2M Big Data Innovation and Workforce Fund to promote the use of big data, open data, and analytics. The Fund will bring together the public and private sectors to prepare the Massachusetts workforce for big data careers and help identify problems and provide technology-based solutions in various areas of public policy concern, including transportation, public health, and energy.
  • Provides $1M for a Start-up Mentoring Program to connect early-stage entrepreneurs, technology start-ups, and small businesses with successful, experienced business enterprises and capital financing.
  • Provides $1M to the Talent Pipeline Program, which will match, dollar-for-dollar, stipends for interns at technology and innovation start-ups. Massachusetts’ universities educate some of the world’s best students. This program will build connections between that talent pool and in-state early-stage companies, encouraging both to remain in Massachusetts for the long-term.
  • Modifies the Research & Development Tax Credit formula to align Massachusetts with the federal tax code by providing the Alternative Simplified Credit (ASC) as an option for taxpayers. This modification will apply only to R&D activities conducted within the state. The adoption of the ASC will incentivize investment, spur job growth, and strengthen the overall economic climate.
  • Provides $3M for the Global Entrepreneur Program, which creates a 3-year pilot program to allow international students to pursue practical training in entrepreneurship.
  • Provides $1.5M for MassVentures, which supports the innovation economy by funding early-stage, high-growth Massachusetts start-ups as they move from concept to commercialization.
  • Provides $2M for the Innovation Commercialization Seed Fund to provide strategic investments at both public and private research institutions in Massachusetts. The seed funding will enable researchers to demonstrate the commercial potential of an invention or business idea and allow these projects to progress to commercialization.
  • Provides $700,000 for the Commonwealth’s Defense Sector Initiatives, including education and training programs for workforce development on military installations.
  • Provides $1M for Marine Hydrokinetic Research at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and establish partnerships with the private sector in marine hydrokinetics.
  • Creates a Job Creation Incentive under the Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP), allowing businesses to receive a tax credit of up to $1,000 per job created, or up to $5,000 per job created in a Gateway City and areas of particular economic need, so long as the total credit per project does not exceed $1M.
  • Establishes and provides $12M for the Middle Skills Job Training Grant Fund to provide grants to vocational-technical schools and community colleges to support advanced manufacturing, mechanical and technical skills, hospitality and information technology industries training. The Fund seeks to train 4,000 workers over the next four years to address the workforce and talent pipeline needs of employers in Massachusetts.
  • Provides $1.5M for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund for workforce development and job training to meet the current demands in industry sectors with critical vacancies, with a particular focus on low-income and low-skilled workers.
  • Provides $1M for the Department of Higher Education to develop, implement and promote stackable credentials programs at public higher education institutions to ensure students build sustainable and worthwhile careers.
  • Expansion of the Small Business Banking Partnership program allowing PRIM to invest at least $150 million in institutions that make capital available to small businesses and early-stage companies.
  • Establishes a $15M Transformative Development Fund to enable equity investments and technical assistance to revitalize and support residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional development in Gateway Cities. Up to $2M of the Fund will support the creation of Collaborative Workspaces in Gateway Cities, which will be created in underutilized buildings to spur innovative and creative business growth and economic activity. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

MassTLC & iRobot Host Attorney General

Policy Update

MassTLC hosted gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Martha Coakley, for an early morning discussion Monday, August 4, at iRobot’s Bedford headquarters.
From left to right: Colin Angle, iRobot,; Attorney General Martha
Coakley; Tom Hopcroft, MassTLC;  Chris Wey, Avaya

MassTLC President & CEO Tom Hopcroft and iRobot Chairman, CEO & Co-Founder and MassTLC Trustee Colin Angle welcomed the Attorney General and leaders from several MA technology companies. They addressed a host of issues related to economic growth and opportunity from how to respond to challenges in developing, attracting and retaining talent; new practices for educating future technology leaders to how to develop a bold vision of innovation and success for MA’s future.

The Attorney General is knowledgeable and well-versed in the tech sector. In 2014 she hosted the National Cyber Crime Conference in Norwood, MA, which she heralds as the “biggest state cyber crime event in the nation.” She also participated in the national campaign, “Hour of Code,” which emphasizes computer science education in high school.

Back row right to left: Chris Wey, Avaya; Heather Carey, MassTLC
EdFoundation; Tasos Tsolakis, Iron Mountain; Ron Zalkind, CloudLock. 

Front row right to left:  Colin Angle, iRobot; Attorney General Martha Coakley;
Tom Hopcroft, MassTLC; Donna Cupelo, Verizon New England;
Bruce Reading, VoltDB
MassTLC is a highly motivated member community that welcomes the opportunity to call upon Beacon Hill to support initiatives that address talent issues, expanded computer and STEM education and obstacles in scaling. In addition to those key topics, continuing to champion MA as an innovation mecca will further strengthen the Commonwealth’s capacity for economic success and sustainable growth.  

Read about our recent meeting with Republican Candidate for Governor Charlie Baker and check back soon for an update on our forthcoming meeting with Independent Candidate Jeff McCormick. 

MassTLC will meet other gubernatorial candidates in the coming month. Keep an eye on our Blog for future updates and follow us on Twitter for daily updates.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Guest Blog: MassTLC Hosted Sales & Marketing Seminar: Channel Marketing ROI

By: Steven Perry, Owner/Founder of  Pereion Solutions, LLC

MassTLC held the Sales & Marketing Seminar: Channel Marketing ROI at the Iron Mountain headquarters in downtown Boston to discuss channel marketing best practices on Wednesday July 30. I had the opportunity to moderate the panel discussion, and the panel of speakers included sales and marketing executives with deep channel experience from firms with strong partner programs:

Throughout the discussion, there were 4 significant themes that kept coming back up, I have tried to summarize the discussion around those themes.  

1. Partner Recruitment:  Segment the Partner Community & Know Your Target

It’s just as important to segment the market of potential partners, as it is to segment the market of your potential customers.  Not all partners are created equal, partner segmentation is essential since their needs will be different. When recruiting channel partners, set strict requirements upfront, so you bring aboard the right ones for you from the start. Jeanne Hopkins shared how the Continuum marketing team is able to apply segmentation to partner segments, that they are ultimately able to link back to partner yield. You’ll need to:
  • Identify the specific DNA of the channel partner you want
  • Differentiate your business from the thousands of other vendors
  • Recruit partners who are the right fit, with the right resources, and believe in the system you’ve implemented
Once you recruit the partners, it’s all about building scale but maintaining intimacy with your partners.  You can also use social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to help develop those relationships with your partners. Through this, you’ll be able to gain customer trust on a personal and professional level.  

2. Content Marketing: Establishing Thought Leadership

Another crucial aspect of channel marketing is the educational content you distribute to your partners. Quality content provokes thought leadership. Develop relevant content and activate them across digital, traditional and social media environments. Provide your partners with whitepapers, solution briefs, and blogs that feature high value content. Using partner events like conferences, seminars, or webinars where you participate and present. These can be considered as value-add marketing offerings for your partners as well.

Creating volumes and volumes of standardized marketing collateral or email blasts for your partners to just slap a logo on is not viewed as a high value marketing offer. As Deanna Estes stressed, “Marketing in a Box” content offerings from vendors do not help solution providers, like Gordon Flesch, develop their brand and differentiate their offerings.

3. Marketing Planning & Execution:  Build Individualized Plans with Your Partners

There was absolute consensus among the panel members that the best approach is to work with your partners on a 1:1 basis to build individualized marketing plans. It starts with understanding your partner’s business plans, and then providing the proper resources to help develop that plan. You need to understand who your committed and successful partners are, and then work with them in a collaborative and flexible way. 
Cynthia Stephens shared a process where ByAllAccounts leverages their own marketing automation tools to build drip email campaigns for their partners, and actually provide unique, “request a quote” capabilities from individual partners on their website. This way, they’re directly helping individual partners with demand generation.

There was a lot of discussion about co-marketing funding and the use of market development funds. Again the feedback was consistent, broad-based programs are not as effective and can be very expensive. If you’re building individualized plans with your partners, and as part of that process you provide some shared investment that can be very effective, then you know exactly how the money is being spent.

4. Management System: It’s Possible to Build a Repeatable Process with Consistent Outcomes

Scott Barlow shared the management system they established at Reflexion Networks to manage their channel program, which includes thousands of solution providers. They sell exclusively through channel partners and have a well-defined management system with the key performance indicators outlined below:
  • Partner Recruitment: Total partner registrations
  • Partner Enablement: % of partners that sell services every month
  • Partner Scale: Average # of subscribers/partners
  • Partner Productivity: Average revenue per subscriber
  • Partner Retention: Partner renewal rate

Scott emphasized that they are able to drive specific activities through there channel plans to address gaps in different areas. There was good discussion about the critical elements in growing and managing a channel program, and how that can build a loyal partner channel with predictable outcomes.
In closing, I thought the session raised a lot of very good questions from the audience. There was definitely a lot of interest in the topic and discussion about how they could apply these channel marketing best practices to their own businesses. Hopefully, we’re be able to hold more sessions on partner channel sales and marketing in the future. It was a pleasure to moderate the panel with such a great group of speakers.

Thanks again to Iron Mountain for hosting and to the MassTLC team for pulling this together.
MassTLC would like to thank Steve for moderating and our sales and marketing community sponsors Dassault Systemes and SiriusDecisions

About Pereion Solutions

Pereion Solutions helps technology companies to grow and develop their partner channels, including providing channel consulting and marketing services.  Steven Perry is the owner and founder of Pereion Solutions.  In addition to channel development, Pereion Solutions is also a provider of customer analytic solutions.