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Last Thursday was analyst day at Progress Software, and while I wasn't there, I followed some of the activity on Twitter. I'd like to share a bit about what it's like to be at a product company, and some of the challenges we face getting our message(s) out - instead my usual rant about SOA.
WRT the conference, the tweet of the day was @rwang0's tidbit: "Did you know that Epicor, QAD, Infor, Consona, Sage, and others are using Progress technology in the back end?"
@neilwd's answer was: "@djbressler re: your @rwang0 RT - no I didn't know that - and that's part of the problem, perhaps?"
Perhaps? Neil's apparently an understated kind of guy.
I'll add a little nugget of my own. Can you guess how many SaaS customers we have? A few thousand. (Sorry I can't find the exact number but I think my point is made.)
Interestingly, @neilwd was right on the ball earlier when Judith said, "progress software - no differentiation" and he responded "jhurwitz v interesting Progress comment - I think Progress is a bit like Unilever - top-level brand is vanilla, sub-brands have chops".
We'd love for the Progress brand to have some chops, and we're trying but it's not trivial. To illustrate this point, and the challenge we face bringing all our brands together, here's a little visual riddle:
How many times do you see Progress on this screen shot? (Answer below)Coincidentally to analyst day, I was doing some research in preparation for my upcoming presentation at the Cloud Computing Expo in NYC. When I saw this page I just had to email it to our new CMO, Gary Conway, to illustrate the problem we have.
No one knows who or what Progress is. And in part, it's our fault, but only in part.
You see, Progress is mentioned four times on that page but you'd never know it. Granted, there's one double-mention but still four times on one page, you'd think people would of heard of us.
I'll pat myself on the back for a second. Last year we had some moderated management meetings to tease out what we all thought Progress' core strengths were. My belief is that Progress is a technology company's company - that our core competency is creating software that, as Neil pointed out on Twitter after analyst day, others embed in solutions of their own. Our established network of partners is more valuable than gold, and having traveled the world talking to them, they really like us. Oh, and they're committed to our technology across the board. The exciting thing is that we're starting to realize that core competency in the Actional team here with our relationship with Software AG and their release of WebMethods Insight. It's amazing how when you do what you do well, it works well!
I'll say one last thing before giving you the answer to the riddle, since I suspect there are some important people at my company who might read this.
I'm a bit disappointed that we could have an analyst day without a social presence. Not a blog post about it, not a tweet, not a single conversation. Granted a lot of what was said is confidential but we've gotta be part of the conversation and we missed a good opportunity to do so.
Answer: The four places we're mentioned on the screen shot...
DataDirect is what some would say is the core of Progress, FUSE is our open source ESB acquired with IONA. And, as mentioned above, I'll be presenting at Cloud Computing Expo in NYC. I'd love to meet you and have a conversation. Of course, you don't have to wait until then.
2 April 2009, @NeilWD has blogged his response/feelings about this topic. It makes for a good read. - db
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