Tuesday, December 22, 2015

An Interview with SmartBear Software's CMO, Bryan Semple

By: Mike Johnson, Director of Communities at MassTLC

This quarter we had a chance to talk to SmartBear Software's CMO, Bryan Semple, about his role, and what he’s thinking about for 2016. You can also check out his blog StoryMETRIX.

You started you post-military career as a sales rep in the mid-90’s, back then sales departments and marketing departments were two very different worlds but now the buzz is all about sales and marketing alignment (Smarketing), when did you start to see the transition and how are the departments aligned at SmartBear?

I was an enterprise sales rep where the marketing contribution to my success was low.  I cold called CTOs, CIOs and worked major Fortune 500 accounts building out a rolodex of contacts.  For high volume, B2B businesses I think sales and marketing have always had to be aligned. A VP of Marketing who does see sales and revenue as his goals is a short term VP of Marketing.  This is as true today as it was a while back.   At SmartBear, each of our sales teams is aligned with a market manager and product marketing manager who are goaled on product revenue and tasked with delivering to the sales manager weekly downloads.  The rest of the marketing organization lines up to support these key players on our team.  It has proven very successful in driving thousands of trials each week.

Your desk looks a bit like mission control, can you run us through what you’ve got going on here? Does this setup bring you back to your Navy days?

Marketing today is a real time endeavor.  You need to monitor not only site operations, response time, but also hot content, social feeds, and hourly day over day traffic comparisons.   Traffic is remarkably consistent hour by hour for a global operation. Its critical to learn these patterns to detect if something good or bad has happened.  In addition, we also stream live feeds of our trade shows back to marketing.  It is important for everyone to realize there are live customers out there every minute of every day and to keep that in front of the team.  In the Navy, we measured everything to stay safe and prepared.  So yes, part of this is probably due to my Navy training.

Sometimes living in a C-Suite world, you can miss out or (hopefully not) lose touch with some of the things that are happening in the entry or mid-level world of marketers, was are two things you’ve learned this year from new marketers?

I don’t feel too isolated at all.  My team is super flat, not hierarchical, and we all sit in an open office plan.  So I hear a lot,  and I am sure they hear a lot from my desk.   We encourage everyone on the team to speak their mind and argue their points. If you disagree, speak up.   We have pretty lively discussions and arguments where my ideas don’t always carry the day.  All of us are always looking at new ways to improve operations and drive more revenue.  This year we doubled down on our commitment to agile marketing expanding our calendaring system to link with Jira.  We started to experiment with Kanban systems for some groups.  We have adopted buyer’s journey models for all our markets and 8 products along with corresponding content models.  We continue to decrease our spending on PPC while looking for incremental spend opportunities that matter. We are also rethinking our whole SEO operation. There always innovation on the team from everyone and that is what makes it fun.

SmartBear is growing quickly and I’m sure your growing your own department, what are the must-haves to be invited to join your team?

We look for culture fit – low ego, team players with a passion for what they do.  Intellectual curiosity is big for us.  We tend to hire quirky people which I am not sure how that happens. For anything but entry level positions, we look for excellence in digital arts.  For entry positions, we tend to hire new college hires if they have had internships that make sense.  We have had great success with interns from Northeastern. We throw a lot at them, and see what they can do.   For regular hires, we do two rounds of interviewing on site with a practical exercise thrown in.  We learn a lot from the practical exercise and  can see how people approach problems, pressure, and how well they listen.  I really enjoy my team and it is one of the things that makes it so enjoyable to come to work each day. 

What’s the #1 to-do for your 2016 marketing strategy?

Same thing as 2015 – grow downloads and traffic.  We are going to do a renewed focus on our content production, distribution, and marketing.  We have always done a lot of content, but are looking to be more precise in its development. We hired an experienced content marketer to drive this for us and we are very excited. In addition, we run the two largest open source communities in the API space – SoapUI.org and Swagger.io.  For 2016 we will be increasing our investments in open source.

What’s something from this year that just isn’t relevant for next year?

Everything we exited the year doing we will be doing in 2016.  If something didn’t work for us, we stopped doing it immediately since we measure everything.  We saturated our event schedule this year, so I don’t expect major changes in events. In addition, our paid advertising is running at max value, so we won’t be changing that much next year.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

2016 Healthcare Predictions

Submitted by The Shift Communications Healthcare Team, @SHIFTcomm

As we bid adieu to 2015, this article recaps some of the trending topics in the healthcare industry throughout the year, and provides predictions as to what we anticipate for 2016. In no particular order:

Gene Editing: With the introduction of the CRISPR/Cas gene editing technology, the field of biology has forever been changed, and the idea of being able to track down the genetic basis of diseases has become one of the hottest ideas in medicine. CRISPR has allowed scientists to edit genomes or turn off a human disease gene. Scientists have begun to better understand genetic diseases with the use of this technology, and in turn are drawing closer to therapies. As technology and science continue to progress, we can expect to hear more about the advancements made possible via CRISPR. While the idea of CRISPR draws similarities to a science fiction novel, will 2016 bring us closer to the reality of imagining a future in which certain genes can be edited to prevent disease? As we saw from discussions around December’s International Summit on Human Gene Editing, we’ll also become waist deep in dialogs around the ethics of the technology as it relates to human modification.

Price Transparency: While more than 16 million people who were previously uninsured are now enrolled under the ACA, millions are on high deductible plans that still make healthcare unaffordable, and for some inaccessible. For the first time, healthcare prices are becoming transparent, but at a very slow pace. In 2016, we will see the beginning of a groundswell towards the demand to know the cost of care before setting foot in the doctor’s office or operating room. We’ll start to see consumers seek services from telemedicine providers, retail health clinics and other services that provide clear, transparent and easy to understand pricing.

The Patient-Centered Approach: We started to see the patient-centered approach take hold in 2015. Companies began to borrow a page from the retail playbook and utilize advanced and predictive analytics to better understand the consumer, before they become a patient. Beyond putting the consumer first, retail giants like Amazon, Netflix and iTunes have found the secret sauce to utilize a deluge of data to better understand how to engage with and ensure repeat, happy customers. By utilizing familiar design patterns and principles with advanced technology, healthcare companies will be further able to solve the problems of human engagement and motivation.

Wearables: We’ll continue to see a robust amount of wearables in the market, but we should expect the price of wearables to decline. This will be in part to new business models that will be created based on the Internet of Healthy Things and of widely accessible data. Cognitive computing will enter the wearable market and we will begin to see a holistic view of personal health information and goals, through the collection and analyzing of the wearable data. Biosensors will also make a big splash in 2016, as the next generation of wearables are introduced to have the ability to target chronic conditions. Will it be possible that the next Apple iPhone will include biosensors? Unclear, but with mostly everyone having a cell phone on or near them at any given moment, we can expect to see more between the integration of smartphones, wearables and biosensors.  

Telemedicine: With the number of patients using telemedicine services projected to rise in the coming years, 2016 will bring consumers/patients closer to no longer having to be restricted to the hospital or a physician’s exam room to receive medical care. This is good news for the healthcare industry, as telemedicine has the potential to not only reach more people, but also drive down healthcare costs. In 2016, we’ll begin to see more health care providers and health systems contracting with telemedicine companies. Mid-size companies will begin to collaborate with local hospitals, providers and pharmacies to develop telehealth solutions that partner directly with a health system or pharmacy. For this to truly gain ground, the consumer will begin to place more and more trust in telehealth adoption and 2016 might be the tipping point year.

By the time 2016 nears closing, we anticipate the healthcare industry to continue to advance on numerous levels. Consumers will be more aware of the status of their health, due to a better understanding of genetic profiles, and the widespread utilization of predictive and advanced analytics to target treatment therapies. Discussions will tightly circle gene editing ethics, price transparency, predictive analytics, the next generation of wearables, and placing trust in the adoption of telemedicine. While we may be getting ahead of ourselves, it’s always interesting to consider what lies ahead in the next year to 20 years, and how different will things really be. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

MassTLC Welcomes NETSCOUT, Leader in Service Assurance and Cybersecurity Solutions, as a Global Sponsor

Westford, Mass.-based NETSCOUT Offers Innovative Technologies for Application and Network Performance Management

WESTFORD, Mass., Dec. 13, 2015 – The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC), a leading technology association and premier network for technology executives, announced today that NETSCOUT, a market leader in real-time service assurance and cybersecurity solutions for service provider, enterprise and government networks, has joined the organization as a Global Sponsor, a category that includes IBM, Microsoft, Raytheon, and other leading companies in the technology sector.

“It is a pleasure to welcome NETSCOUT as a Global Sponsor. NETSCOUT has been a leader in the Massachusetts tech sector for thirty years and continues to grow and innovate.  We appreciate this expression of their ongoing support for the Massachusetts technology sector,” said Tom Hopcroft, president and chief executive officer of MassTLC.

“MassTLC has been a strong partner for NETSCOUT and a tireless supporter of the entire Massachusetts tech community.  We are excited to continue our contribution to this important organization as a Global Sponsor,” said Michael Szabados, chief operating officer of NETSCOUT.

NETSCOUT SYSTEMS, INC. (NASDAQ: NTCT) is a market leader in real-time service assurance and cybersecurity solutions for today’s most demanding service provider, enterprise and government networks. NETSCOUT’s Adaptive Service Intelligence (ASI) technology continuously monitors the service delivery environment to identify performance issues and provides insight into network-based security threats, helping teams to quickly resolve issues that can cause business disruptions or impact user experience. NETSCOUT delivers unmatched service visibility and protects the digital infrastructure that supports our connected world. To learn more, visit www.NETSCOUT.com.

About Mass Technology Leadership Council
The Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) is the region's leading technology association and the premier network for tech executives, entrepreneurs, investors and policy leaders. MassTLC's purpose is to accelerate innovation by connecting people from across the technology landscape, providing access to industry-leading content and ideas and offering a platform for visibility for member companies and their interests. For more information on MassTLC, visit http://www.masstlc.org.

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