So I’ve been brewing this past week on the notion of hyper-aggressive strategies. The concept being, how do you organize an effort such that the touch-points for the intended user provide low-friction barriers to entry.
If you are a software company competing in a space against competition which is entirely proprietary, then leveraging open source as a marketing and demand creation strategy is indeed a hyper-aggressive strategy.
At Jabber in the early days, we very consciously identified our sales cycle as it related to open source and how it accelerated and expanded our reach into enterprises looking for an IM solution. In particular, it went something like this:
1. enterprise identifies that it wants to internalize and take control over employee IM conversations.
2. IT department get’s on Google and searches for ‘Instant Messaging’ – comes across Jabber as an 1) interoperable, 2) XML-based, 3) open-source platform for instant messaging and presence applications.
3. IT department downloads Jabber open source server, scans documentation and begins to play with one of the many dozens of clients.
4. at such point that the company develops an RFP, Jabber is already the ‘default’ standard by which they judge all other competing products.
5. the RFP process becomes nothing more than ‘following protocol’ and tool used to negotiate price to purchase jabber.
6. by the time the enterprise calls Jabber, Inc. to ‘discuss’ the qualities of the commercial server, they have already done their pre-qualification, testing and analysis of the product, and are pre-disposed to select Jabber, barring the pricing becomes inhibitive, in which case they find ways to stay with the free open source server, and Jabber still ‘wins’.
By understanding the cycle and the dynamics of the cycle, Jabber, Inc. was able to fine-tune the model. Consciously ‘turning-the-crank’ by idenifying and removing frictional points within the cycle. Over time, we created as close to an exothermic vehicle as possible, whereby the positive feedback from every win in the open source project was a direct future win for the commercial company, and vice-versa.
This hyper-aggressive strategy has resulted in Jabber becoming the #1 distributed IM infrastructure in the world in 2.5 short years, with over 125,000 servers deployed and major customers such as Disney, AT&T, Bell South, France Telecom, HP, Oracle, IBM, Intel and the list goes on and on.
Building upon that model, I’m now in search for the equivilent ‘hyper-aggressive’ strategy correlating to the build-out of a network. Of course, where the network adopts technology, open source will become a component of the strategy, however, there are likely other ways to mimic the core attributes of open source in business and the specifics of this are now being looked at as we introduce the PingID Network, an identity network designed to facilitate the roll-out of Federated Identity Services and Management. The first stop was to understand the VISA model for collaboration amongst competitors within a cooperatively managed and owned organization. But we’re not stopping there. VISA was a phenomenon, largely a product of the times, the players and the personalities which developed it into the powerhouse that it is today (e.g. difficult to replicate).
More to come…