Tuesday, December 15, 2015

In which I leave the #apmp...again. Farewell, @APMPConnect

I am a secret - OK, not so secret - lover of spectacle, and have been known to attach Ultimate Importance to things that are, frankly, not all that important to many people.

The most recent example of this occurred on a couch in the family room of my home last Saturday evening, when I received an email from the Association of Proposal Management Professionals - and didn't act on it.

The title of the email? "Your APMP membership expires tomorrow. Don't delay, renew today!"

Actually, the moment of Ultimate Importance occurred several days before that, on the preceding Wednesday morning, when I sent an "FYI" email to two people informing them that I wouldn't be renewing my APMP membership. One of them, the head of marketing, is my boss. The other, the head of proposals, is NOT my boss.

While researching this post, I realized that the moment of Ultimate Importance occurred well before that - I don't even remember when, but I edited my LinkedIn profile to add a terminal date of 2015 to my APMP membership.

This of course ties in to other Moments of Ultimate Importance - my transfer from Proposals to Marketing earlier this year, my transfer from Product Management to Proposals in 2009, and my transfer from Proposals to Product Management in 2000. (No link for the oldest one; I wasn't blogging in 2000, so I didn't get the chance to write about my sitting in a cubicle on the opposite side of the building from Proposals, wondering what I had gotten myself into with this whole product managing thingie. Oh, the acronyms that I was about to discover...)

Obviously, my leaving the Association of Proposal Management Professionals is not a reflection on the group itself, which I have found to be extremely helpful during both of my membership stints - not only with proposal issues, but with issues that occur before a proposal is even conceived. (As any APMP member will tell you, much of the work on a proposal SHOULD occur BEFORE the Request for Proposals is released.)

So why didn't I renew? It was just that after my recent job change, the APMP membership, while helpful, was no longer EXTREMELY helpful.

So I've moved on.

Although the way my career has been going over the last quarter century, I wouldn't be surprised if I find myself sending an email to the APMP in 2022 asking, "Hey, can you reactivate that membership from 1999?"

If you are directly involved in proposals, capture management, or business development, I encourage you to visit http://www.apmp.org/, or follow the group on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apmpconnect.

Monday, December 14, 2015


I have yet to formally publish the Empoprises Rule of Fair Food that I have previously mentioned, but I will reveal that part of the rule involves the universal use of the suffix "on a stick." (At this time I am not prepared to reveal the prefix that can be universally used - suffice it to say that it rhymes with "lied" and "died.")

Yet this universality is found in something else - another rule that I'll have to write that will probably be called the Empoprises Rule of Service.

If I ever publish this rule, the word "service" will be used in its technical sense. And the rule will discuss the universality of the phrase "as a service."

I'm not sure whether Software as a Service (SaaS) was the first use of this phrase, but it clearly wasn't the last. I myself claim to work in the Identity as a Service industry, and I'm sure that absolutely everyone - even people who produce physical products - are now referring to themselves in an XaaS way just to be trendy. Do you make cars? Then you can claim that you're in the Transportation as a Service (TaaS) industry, although technically that term may be more correctly applied to car leasing companies, or all of the individual private contractors who are associated with Uber BUT ARE CLEARLY NOT EMPLOYEES OF UBER WINK WINK.

I seem to have digressed.

In fact, the "as a Service" phrase is so widespread, people are coming up with new as a services to replace the old as a services. Combine this with an acronym-loving government agency - I won't reveal the name of the agency, but its acronym is DHS - and you have pandemonium.

The purpose of this procurement is to obtain funding for the transition of Information Technology Systems Management as a Service (ITSMaaS) previously referred to as Raas ( Remedy as a Service) support service...

Of course, since Information Technology is a service that facilitates other business operations, I'm sure that someone will eventually refer to this as Service as a Service. SaaS?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Why I don't fear Big Brother, December 2015 edition

Because so much of this affects my industry, I'm going to focus on just a single issue regarding the cybersecurity bills that are presently before Congress. The sticking point - if a business enterprise encounters a cybersecurity threat, which government agency or agencies should be informed? Representative Mike McCaul, who crafted the version of the bill that designates the Department of Homeland Security as the receiving agency, said the following:

"We want DHS to be the lead civilian agency — not the FBI, who can prosecute you; not the NSA, who can spy on you."

Erin Kelly of USA Today explained the distinction between the agencies:

Specifically, coalition members worry that the final bill will be stripped of the requirement that any cyber threat information from the private sector be sent to the Department of Homeland Security, a civilian agency that has stricter privacy regulations than the Pentagon's National Security Agency. The NSA has generated controversy for its mass surveillance of Americans' phone data.

As Kelly's article notes, there is no such thing as a unified Big Brother. In this instance, there's a fight between various factions of Congress to decide which U.S. government agency should get cyberthreat notifications. And presumably people within the agencies themselves are fighting with each other over that data.

Kelly schooled me on one thing - I had always thought that the NSA was an independent agency. It turns out that it IS part of the Department of Defense.

But that doesn't stop Pentagon-NSA fights. Take this one from 2012, which happened before the Snowden revelations:

In the midst of an ongoing turf battle over how big a role the National Security Agency should play in securing the nation’s critical infrastructure, a Defense Department official asserted on Wednesday that the military’s controversial intelligence agency should take a backseat to the Department of Homeland Security in this regard.

When even the Department of Defense is fighting with the Department of Defense over something, comparisons to a monolithic Orwellian supersecurity service fall flat.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Let's get personalized!

So how do you correct all of these "Dear Bredehoft" messages that I've been getting? By creating a personalized video:

Show your audience they’re not just one of the herd. With personalized video, they’re not just a number, and they’re certainly not a farm animal.
Connect with each person by weaving unique details into a video. Include text and images like their:

Company name
Email address
Home page
Phone number
LinkedIn picture

I will confess - when I first read this, the first thing that came to my mind was those personalized childrens' stories that you used to be able to buy. You know, the ones that go something like this:

Who can save our town from the evil dragon? The only person that can do this is xxx BRIAN xxx!

But then I thought that it may be better than that. Vidyard itself points out:

This isn’t just some flashy trick to get noticed. It can have real impact on Empoprises' results.

As you can probably figure out, I entered the requested information at the top of the page. Unfortunately, when I went to play the video, I ran into the bane of all video existence - limited bandwidth.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Keurig 3.0?

Bad news travels faster than good news, and sometimes it prevents the good news from traveling at all.

Remember the Keurig 2.0 DRM brouhaha from 2014 and early 2015? This February article will remind you.

Late last year, Keurig announced a new machine, the 2.0, calling it the "future of brewing" and touting its ability to make both small cups and large carafes. But another, less-publicized feature has been getting most of the attention: the brewer’s advanced scanning system that locks out any coffee pods not bearing a special mark. It’s essentially a digital rights management system, but for coffee, and it’s proving to be the brewer’s downfall.

On an earnings call Wednesday the company announced that brewer sales fell 12 percent last quarter, the first full quarter for which the 2.0 was on sale. "Quite simply our 2.0 launch got off to a slower start than we planned," said CEO Brian Kelley.

The CEO was speaking euphemistically. A more honest statement would have been "Our customers hate our guts."

And frankly, my brain shut off any mention of Keurig after that, so I didn't even realize what Keurig did a few months later:

The one retaliation that seemed to effect change most efficiently, though, was financial. Keurig machine and accessory sales plummeted 23 percent in the first quarter, year over year, thanks in large part to unease over Keurig 2.0.

To help reverse course, Keurig CEO Brian Kelley this week announced the return of My K-Cup. It’s welcome news for those who dislike needlessly tossing hundreds of small plastic containers into the trash every year, but love freedom of choice and competitive business practices.

“Quite honestly, we were wrong,” explained Kelley on a call with analysts to discuss earnings this week. “We underestimated the passion that consumer had for this… We shouldn’t have taken it away.”

For those who are not familiar with all things Keurig, the My K-Cup allows you to use your own coffee with Keurig. However, Keurig didn't take away the DRM, and a number of people (such as myself) didn't even hear of Keurig's minor about-face. The damage had already been done.

And this was confirmed this week:

Keurig Green Mountain Inc. will be acquired by a JAB Holding Co.-led investor group for about $13.9 billion in cash.

This should please stockholders, since the premium on the purchase price should help make up for the money that the stock lost in the last year. But what does this mean, since JAB apparently plans to keep the existing management in place?

It probably means that JAB doesn't plan to keep the existing management - or structure - in place.

JAB owns a controlling stake of Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee, Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Espresso House and Baresso Coffee....JAB’s goal is to be the Budweiser of coffee, Pablo Zuanic, an analyst at Susquehanna International, said on Monday. The conglomerate may follow with other deals, such as a takeover of Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., he said.

Perhaps Kelley will exit within a few months, and JAB will go for a rebranding. Your donut shop, your coffee shop, and your in-home system will be all under a single name. (Unless Starbucks and Tim Hortons merge and copy the idea first.)

So what will the new brand be? Not JAB - that name wouldn't play well here. Unfortunately, "Beatrice" is NOT available.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Let's get data!

I am occasionally the recipient of extremely personal emails that are addressed "Dear Bredehoft." In most if not all cases, the negative reaction to the email greeting is not repaired by the content of the actual email.

For example, I recently received a "Dear Bredehoft" email that was advertising an event entitled "Take Your Marketing Campaigns from Blah to Wow Using Data."

My reaction?


Now I'll grant that, despite the fact that the emailer displayed personal knowledge of my last name, the emailer probably wasn't aware that I consider data to be the lowest form of stuff. Data is not information, data is not knowledge, and data is certainly not wisdom.

However, even if you don't subscribe to a data/information/knowledge/wisdom model or a similar model, you need a little more specifics before you start using "data" for a marketing campaign. Based upon the description of the event, it appears that the "data" in this case will be used to identify "new, targeted contacts similar to your best buyers."

Forget for the moment that I am selling to a very small market of thousands of entities, not millions of entities. How many of us have access to data that will precisely target similar potential customers who will actually buy?

Even Facebook, which does have access to lots and lots of data, seems to get it wrong more often than not. One of my Facebook friends is a graduate of Aalto University's school of business administration in Mikkeli, Finland. I have never been to Mikkeli. I have never been to Finland. The closest that I have ever been to Mikkeli is Paris, or perhaps Zurich. Yet Facebook, in its infinite wisdom, advertised "proud to be from Mikkeli" clothing to me at one point.

Occasionally I respond to these suggested posts with the words "Facebook, you're drunk." Of course, now Facebook will probably start advertising breathalyzers to me.