100th and Final Post

December 21, 2010

It seems only fitting that my 100th post on this blog will be my last. As you may have seen in the NI Alliance Partner News on December 17th, I will be transitioning to a new role focusing on companies that supply NI with services (e.g. calibration, maintenance, and so on).

Changes to the NI Alliance Partner Team

Over the past 6 months, NI has been building our partner team to meet our increasing partner needs. Our mission is to ensure customer success by engaging system integrators, solution providers, product and technology partners while fostering mutual growth and financial success and driving new product adoption. Our partnering resources now include:

  • Armando Valim, Partner Programs Group Manager
  • Jeff Meisel, Software Product Partners (e.g. LabVIEW add-on toolkits)
  • Robert Jackson, Hardware Product Partners (e.g. CompactRIO modules)
  • Julie Schreier, Partner Programs Marcom Manager
  • Rob Reichmeider, VAR Manager for Americas
  • Kelly Hunka, Partner Programs Associate
  • Andrew Ellison, Alliance Program Administrator
  • Additional resources (to be determined)

In the interim, Amando Valim will assume responsibilities of Alliance Program Manager. For inquires that you previously directed to me please, you can now contact partners@ni.com.

Importance of our Alliance Partners

It has been my pleasure and passion to work with our Alliance Program Partners building our mutual business for these many years. While I am looking forward to new opportunities in my career, I firmly believe that building stronger partners is crucial to our continued success. Good business practices is an important aspect of that growth — thus, the reason for this blog. I hope that you have found some insights on how to improve your business. For the time being, I’ll leave this blog up and remind you of the Table of Content is a good way to access the content.

Best regards,

Jack


Still Decompressing from NIWeek and Alliance Day

August 10, 2010

Well, after nearly a perfect track record of recording a blog post every week, NIWeek finally snapped my string. While it was on my mind to get something out last Tuesday, my mind was a blur with information overload (and perhaps too many drinks at the evening activities). Nonetheless, I’ve gathered enough insights from the various sessions that I should have enough fodder for this blog in the coming weeks. Here’s a quick recap of Alliance Day.

Moving Forward Together

Alex Davern, our CFO, and Pete Zogas, our Sr. VP of Sales/Marketing, did their usual great job of explaining our business strategies. Alex talked about how our strategic plan had allowed us to continue to invest in R&D and our sales organization throughout the downturn, so we are in even a better competitive position as the economy recovers.

Pete then describe how NI continues to evolve as our system-level business grows. For instance, we are creating industry and application segment teams to develop key accounts and partners. We also continue to expand our service offering (e.g. design consulting, product customization, calibration, ….) to meet the needs of our customers and partners in more demanding applications. Finally, we are expanding our partner team:

  • Group Manager – Armando Valim
  • Solution Partners – Jack Barber
  • Software Product Partners – Jeff Meisel
  • Hardware Product Partners – Robert Jackson
  • Technology Partners – Rachel Garcia
  • Regional Partner Manager – Rob Reichmeider, ….

Empowering Your Business

The rest of the day was packed with sessions designed specifically for our Alliance Partners. As mentioned in my last post, there were product sessions about you can use them to win more business and training on our latest architectures to facilitate your development.

But, given the nature of this blog (and my own interests), I’ll stick mostly to the business empowerment sessions offer insights and information on running your business, improving your marketing, and more. In the coming weeks, I’ll relay information from several of those sessions. Of course, that will pail in comparison hearing it directly. So, make plans to attend NIWeek next year!


NIWeek and Alliance Day 2010 Approaches

July 27, 2010

As always, there is a buzz around National Instruments during the final week of preparation for NIWeek.  Folks putting their final touches on their presentations and demonstrations. It is a bit of a crucible, but I find it always brings out the best of NI and our people.

Alliance Day

The week begins with Alliance Day on Monday. It’s a great chance to meet with our Alliance Partners to share business strategies before the customers arrive and NIWeek begins. During the keynote, you’ll hear from Alex Davern, our CFO, about how NI is faring in this economy; and Pete Zogas, our Sr. VP of Worldwide Sales, about how NI continues to evolve our organization to meet the demands of both our transactional and system-level business.

The rest of the day is packed with sessions designed specifically for our Alliance Partners. Our product managers will talk about our latest offering and how you can use them to win more business. Our system engineers will provide training on our latest architectures to facilitate your development. And, our business empowerment sessions offer insights and information on running your business, improving your marketing, and more.

Hope to See You There

If you are an NI Alliance Partner that is basing your business around National Instruments, there is no better place to be than NIWeek and Alliance Day. Catch me in the hallways to discuss your business. And feel free to let me know what you think of this blog – what you find useful and how it can be improved.


Surviving and Thriving as an SI (3 of 3)

July 20, 2010

Marketing

Superior Control works to stay in ‘constant’ contact with their customers – using both hard-copy newsletters and e-mails. They include not only company news, but ‘fun’ information. For instance, they invite customers to regular cook-outs, to participate in a ‘Superior Madness’ college basketball pool, even to attend football games in the company’s seats.

Company Culture

Rick also think that it is important to build your company culture. For instance, they have a Summer Family cook-out for their employees and their families. They encourage employees to participate in an annual road (bike) race. There is a yearly ‘State of the Company’ address to keep employees informed of the company performance and direction. They recognize employee tenure with 5, 10, and 15 year awards. And, they host periodic trips to celebrate company success.

Giving Back

Finally, Rick advocates finding a way to give back to your community. In their case, Rick serves on the engineering board of the local University of Mass – Lowell. Superior Control has sponsored a computer engineering room and helped design and support the process control labs. He’s been very resourceful at getting his business and customers involved. As a result, in addition to the satisfaction of the charitable contributions, the networking has created 2 projects totaling over $1M, hiring 15 top rated engineers, not to mention the ‘advertising’ and visibility.

Conclusion

This concludes my series of blog posts about some of the CSIA 2010 presentationst that I found the most interesting. Of course, it is hard to do the presentations justice in a few short posts. If you want to the full scoop, I encourage you to attend the CSIA conference for yourself.

Surviving and Thriving as an SI (3 of 3)


Organizational Structure

February 16, 2010

As a company grows, the general manager must create the necessary infrastructure for the company to be successful.

Charting Your Course

If you don’t have one already, define the organizational chart required for your company to succeed at the current level as well as the next. It should be defined by roles, not by people. So, for the moment, set a side thoughts about the people currently in your company and describe the organizational structure required for optimal execution of the company. The organizational chart should consist of job titles, not peoples names.

Filling in the blanks

Once completed, you can then add the names, parenthetically under the titles. By the way, it is OK if a name appears in one location. If it is yours, you are simply coming to grips with the fact that you are serving multiple functions, which will then make it easier to define and delegate. But, if it is someone else’s make sure that it is clear that they are serving multiple roles. How much time should they spend on each? What are their respective goals?

Take this job and describe it

Next, create job descriptions for each role in the organization. What are the responsibilities for each job? What are the goals and metrics for each? If they don’t exist, consider having your employees write one for them. It might be interesting to find out what they think that they are responsible for and how they will be judged as successful. Ultimately, get the manager and employee to sign-off on the job description. That’s much better than simply inheriting responsibility and assuming that the employee understands it.

For more information and ideas, check out Chapter 14, Your Organizational Strategy, of The E-Myth, Revisited.


Best Wishes for a Properous New Year

December 22, 2009

Well, that’s going to do it for this year. I checked and I managed to post 50 times on this blog since I started it back in June of this year. For those of you (all 4 of you) that have tuned in on a regular basis, I hope that you’ve found a couple ideas on how to improve your business practices.

Thanks for the comments and feedback. Please also feel free to provide suggestions on topics as well as any other ideas on how I can make this blog more useful.

It’s been an extremely challenging year, so it seems more appropriate than ever to thank our Alliance Partners for their business and wish you a prosperous new year.


Alliance Day Highlights – Beyond Traditional Marketing – Part 1

August 18, 2009

For those of you who didn’t make it to the Alliance Day of NIWeek, you missed a great presentation, Beyond Traditional Marketing, by Joe Quinn, NI Regional Marketing Communications Manager for the United States and Canada. He discussed how, in today’s economic environment, marketers are going beyond the traditional means to reach new contacts and drive new opportunities. Attendees heard about new NI marketing communication programs that engage decision makers outside the NI database including those targeting stimulus-funded projects. He highlighted what Alliance Partners are doing and explored ideas that you can incorporate into your marketing programs.

Mass vs. Micro Marketing

The majority of NI’s marketing is related to our major campaigns, for instance Automated Test or Industrial/Embedded Control. Our advertising, PR, tradeshows and direct market programs build the awareness and create the general demand for NI products.  This fuels the NI Lead Generation machine and pipelines.  Many of these programs build the NI database, nurture these contacts to drive sales interactions. Let’s first consider how you can take advantage of these traditional mass marketing.

Making Your Presence Known

NI’s greatest marketing tool is ni.com. It’s our most cost effective and farthest reaching tool we have.   ni.com receives over 1 million visitors a month.  Our web group have invested heavily in not only driving traffic to the web through search sites, but has made the investment in improving search capabilities on the site. 

So, the more you increase your content, the more you can increase your search results.  For example, Cyth Systems increased their content from 51 to 220 locations of over the past two years ago.  Examples include entries in the solution section of your Alliance profile but also responses on the NI Developers Zone. Cross-linking back to ni.com from your website can also improve your natural relevancy.

Case Studies

Sharing your successful solution benefits not only you but also the industry. We distribute these case studies on our Web site – ni.com – and we print and distribute many of them to prospects and editors. We also use some in our newsletters, solutions brochures, and annual report. If your article has broad appeal, our PR staff may work with you to also place it in trade publications.

The priorities for 2009 can also be opportunities to work with our PR department. And, many times when can start a dialogue with someone outside the database by promoting a case-study to build credibility. 

Getting in the News

Another way to increase your visibility is through PR and press releases. When posting press releases to your website or posting them on the wire – engage NI’s PR team. They will check for accuracy and post on ni.com/news in the NI Network News. Over 4,000 people per quarter view this page and it includes an RSS feed. Contact our PR department for more information.

Join the NI Community

A new means of building awareness is through our ni.com/community. We are already seeing over 130,000 visitors per month and over 30,000 downloads. You can take advantage of this major investment by NI to create your own community web presence.  For instance, you can create a page based on your User Group that you host, on an application area of expertise, industry, geographical area.  Blog, post polling questions, invite others, collaborate online, post presentations.  You might even consider posting some of your code and see who collaborates or may be interested.

Next week, I’ll post some of our new ideas and efforts for micro-marketing.