To put this in context this is a reply to Paul Waddington’s comment at my “Twenty Three Years of Institutionalised Culture of Failure” post.
The idea that Siemens eats their own food is a key point in the list of compelling reasons to use SE. Siemens IS a big manufacturing corporation and they did buy into UGS/SE to enhance and control to their benefit design and manufacturing software. So yes this is a big deal and I have said before it is wise to buy into software that is used by the people who own it for the same things you do. There is a common benefit for both side that is not offered to this degree anywhere else.
I have no idea why SE has a marketing and PR staff that does not fully capitalise on the advantage ST gives them over every other mid range MCAD program out there. This is a constant source of frustration to many users who do not understand why this is. Bigger market share benefits us to as it will inevitably bring us more work and a larger talent pool to draw from. It hurts both sides of the equation and who knows why it goes on for six years now with ST.
Price tags are critical if you want to entice new users. I came on board just before the release of ST1 after seeing it work on a part of mine. Now I wanted it but what really clinched the deal was as an introductory offer there was a VAR that would allow me to “trade in” my old seat for a seat of SE Classic for $3,000.00 total for software and maintenance for one year. Regular cost was around $6,900.00 + $1,500.00 maintenance. I would have been crazy not to buy.
Siemens has only been involved with SE for I believe six years. This problem precedes Siemens according to Evan and indeed goes all the way back to 1990.
” is a focused performance approach which is best achieved by showing off and leveraging off existing users – not ‘conventional’ marketing.” Precisely correct. Now my opinion has been for some time you can’t sell what you do not clearly demonstrate and this is software for manufacturing from design to build so you have to show customers how it does this and how it benefits them. The following must be done to achieve this. And I will give my recommendations on things to be done in general.
First off there must be an end to VARs whose primary ability is to bring a proposal to a prospective customer. They need to be trained and be capable of sitting down with a prospect and taking the prospects own part and SHOWING the benefit of SE. (or at least taking a trained demo guy who can do this after a meeting is set up) These same VAR’s must also follow-up and see if their customers are using ST and if not why not. It is appalling how many of SE’s customers do not use ST and I believe it is solely because their VAR or Siemens has not made a point to follow-up and make sure that their customers understand the benefit. Look, these guys got along with the same old way and that is where many will stay. Whether it is because the boss does not want the disruption of training on a new paradigm or the user resists having to learn something new it is status quo makes me happy world. When you make a point of showing them in person what it can do it is almost funny as their jaws drop. I know, I have done this. When these guys see what can be done and the owners see the efficiencies it can bring then the switchover happens. And yes these people become advocates for SE and they will show others all about it.
Siemens or whoever should quit being stupid and realize that it takes a serious financial incentive for many to switch. It is not sufficient in many cases to just show better software. Your prospect is going to say that he can get by with what he has as he has done for years and legacy files and retraining blah-blah-blah. And these are real hurdles to be overcome if you wish to sell to the majority of all prospects out there. The only answer is a financial incentive and it better be a good one. I just cringed when I heard the initial discount considered for buying into CAMWorks 4 SE of 15 to 20%. What could they have been thinking? You launch a product and it better be at least 50% off for everyone for at least three to four months. This is where the ineptness of SE traditional marketing types comes in. 15 to 20% off and lets let the VARs do the promoting of the product in publicity.
Marketing and PR fail in another big way with the user community. Blogging takes a lot of time and not everyone is suited to do this and in addition it is darned few who are willing to be active in the community much less take time to write about it. There is no recognition of those who do so. Bloggers should get a free pass to the Universities and just like the press has a tag showing they are under the name tag bloggers should to. Now I am not advocating this for my benefit because I have been doing it without all this stuff anyway. But how do you make additional people interested in doing this to? You have to give the voices of the community special earned status amongst their peers. Considerations in software or free attendance to SEU or what ever works. At this time bloggers are pretty well ignored by marketing and publicity in all ways. I have asked for special interest things to post about in the past and what I get is a link to the daily tips and tricks official Siemens/SE web page. It is a sign of how sterile the creativity of these people is that they would fob off this request in such a manner. They have no concept of how to interact with a community of users or bloggers with the exception of the Universities which are well done.
There should be a bigger push to establish local user groups and it needs to be sustained and year round. This I believe is a big incubator of future customers as it is important that users be able to find each other. When users can be found it means that there is a local public face to the software and prospective customers can also go there and see users and the software in interaction and judge the software accordingly. It also means that you have a local group of people who actually are dedicated to the idea of your software enough to spend their own time showing up. These will also be the same people who will most likely show others who are not customers all about SE better than any VAR ever could because these are the guys in the trenches earning money with it.
Paul I have been at this for almost four years now and before I was blogging I was everywhere I could find on the closed BBS forums and official Siemens postings where you could respond. It was strange how this was received by users when I started bellyaching about these things. In quick order I knew I would have to go public with this because I was actually chided at times by other users for topics that weren’t strictly CAD related. So I went public and started posting replies on blogs or where ever. But you see because marketing and PR had killed any desire by users for a public face these were really insular guys. It is the job of marketing and PR to INSPIRE users and prospective customers. Many of these people with marketing and PR have been there for a long time. They have never done this and quite frankly I don’t think they know how. As far as I can tell they have had paychecks for so long doing mediocre work that they think they are all right. It is time they step up to the bat or leave.
Marketing would be the category I would assign to have been over things like what sort of incentive to offer new customers or how the software is presented to high schools or colleges or tech schools. A big tech school on the North side of Nashville for instance has Featurecam and SW there on the curriculum. Has a single marketing guy ever stopped in there and proposed a deal for them and shown them the advantages of SE? You can bet your last dollar that no is the answer. Marketing would also make sure that support for products is in place with trained individuals for the software and enforcing foot-dragging salesmen who do not want to be bothered with learning to use what they sell into doing so or leaving. No choice, if you can’t be bothered to learn at least the basics of what you sell you need to go. At least SE. Now I would not expect a sales guy to know all about it nor be conversant in every ancillary program but the engine it all rides on? He better have that right.
PR would be the public face to put SE in front of the world in attractive ways. They would be the ones to find users who are willing to help and “enlist” them. My whole concept for these people is manufacturing better. You show with real world examples exactly how current users are saving time over the old ways. None of this 500% improvement junk. Just real stories of real people and parts and how they benefited. Look, SE will sell itself if these guys would just get off their dead a–es and show the world precisely what it does. These guys get things wrong in so many ways. PR and Marketing need to realise that there is no reason for CAD to exist if MANUFACTURING did not require it. It is an ecosphere if inter-related products and you need to show this as a tool to go from design to build and how much more efficient this SE way is. Thankfully after all these years there is machining integrated with SE so they can now do this. As an aside here why did they not see the necessity of this years ago is beyond belief. The arrogance of the NX side of UGS has to be seen to be believed and they just fobbed off a CAM program that was not integrated and not real user-friendly as good enough for the red-headed step child. This attitude by NX and the PLM World types was and is a part of the problem SE faces. I wish they would pry SE completely away from any association with these people and let it have its own complete structure. These people do not know how to market a superior mid range MCAD product to potential customers and they interfere with progress. They can’t grasp the difference between a small shop and a multinational corporation and one brush paints them all.
Anyway I have to get busy now but these are the things that come to mind. As always Paul a pleasure talking with you. May I ask if you are interested in SE and to what degree? Email me in private if you wish.