The Crux #4: Melty Clouds

In this week’s Crux: Clouds don’t like climate change either, and infosec continues to burn brightly. Minio is grumpy with Nutantix, Atlassian and VMware customers are nervous, but IBM customers keep buying. Uber gonna Uber but Intel plays nice, and cats like videogames.

The weekly tip is a textbook description of how to do positioning. If it was easy, no one would need our help.

Things to note

Google and Oracle’s cloud datacentres didn’t enjoy the London heat this week. It turns out physical reality affects the cloud. Who knew?

Minio have gone sicko mode on Nutanix over claimed violations of Minio’s license. If you’re a Nutanix customer, time to have a robust conversation with your account manager.

Atlassian is taking Zero Trust to bold new places with a new bunch of critical flaws revealed across Atlassian’s products. You really shouldn’t have Atlassian stuff open to the Internet at this point.

VMware is still trying to calm its non-global-2000 customers about the impending acquisition by Broadcom. The people who can easily ditch VMware are the people who aren’t spending much money with them, so that’s what I reckon will happen, and both parties will be happier.

IBM had a good quarter, mostly due to z-Series and POWER systems. Red Hat is just burbling along, not growing much from the look of things.

There’s a $50m fund for ‘AgTech’ targeting the ANZ region where I live, apparently. I grow weary of people slapping ‘tech’ onto everything and pretending that makes it new. DevTech? DevSecOpsTech? TechTech?

decryption tool for Intel’s CPU microcode was released publicly and Intel… didn’t Streisand Effect themselves by trying to sue them or calling the cops. More of this, please!

Okta has responded to a security report that made some big claims about Okta’s security. I’ve read the original report and I think its claims are overblown, which is why I’ve not linked to it here. Basically, if you give admin rights to people, they can do admin things with those rights, so think carefully about who really needs that access.

Uber settles over more nefarious nonsense it got up to. Too big to jail, I guess?

Cat people are very keen on the game Stray that came out this week. The vicarious joy of r/CatsWatchStray is worth it if you need a bit of a lift in your day.

Longer reads

Nothing amazing crossed my desk this week so here’s a book I recommend to people all the time: Priceless: The myth of fair value by William Poundstone. You will never look at a restaurant menu the same way again.

Weekly Tip: PivotNine’s positioning process

We use a pretty textbook process for market analysis and positioning at PivotNine, because it works.

This is it:

  1. Needs-based segmentation Grouping customers into segments based on common needs and benefits.
  2. Segment identification For each needs-based segment, determine what makes the segment distinct and identifiable.
  3. Segment attractiveness Determine how attractive each segment is relative to each other using some common criteria.
  4. Segment positioning For each chosen segment, develop a “value proposition” using our template.
  5. Segment strategy test Summarise the overall strategy to check the attractiveness of each segment’s value proposition.
  6. Marketing-mix strategy Expand the positioning strategy to include all aspects of the marketing mix, including product, price, promotion, place (and other Ps for services)

This is slightly adjusted version of the process on p 242 of Marketing Management by Kotler, Keller & Burton.

It looks simple, and it kinda is, but people make all kinds of errors at every stage that send them off track. A big one is focusing on product and ignoring everything else in the marketing mix.

I find it frustrating that tech companies spend so much time worrying about one P out of the 4Ps of the basic marketing mix, let alone the extended 7Ps (or more) for services. They’re all related to each other. Changing the product should affect the price, and changing the price should affect the product. It may affect the place you sell it, too. Few customers have a $1 million limit on their credit card, so e-commerce makes more sense for $20 SaaS purchases.

There are no ‘right’ answers, either, but there are lots of wrong ones. The trick is to just avoid the obviously wrong answers, and you’re already doing better than most people. Then you just make better and better bets as you gather more information about what works and what doesn’t. You’ll still be wrong sometimes, but less often.

The goal of ‘less wrong’ is pretty humbling, but it’s the only way I know how to do things.