Marketing in the Pick industry – Part 1

I’ve written a bunch of blogs lately on the topic of Marketing in the Pick industry. I just haven’t published them. I get so fired up on this topic that the blog turns into a rant and I just don’t hit that Publish button. Well, it’s time to change that. This first entry in this series was going to be posted as a response to a thread in the U2 forum. Because it’s so far off the topic of U2 I decided to blog it here. Since I’m here, I might as well follow-up with the others in the near future. Stay tuned.

The following excellent forum posting got me to writing on this topic. I’ve snipped it a little to remove references to prior discussions and to keep it focused for our purposes here.

From: Dennis Bartlett
The biggest problem we have experienced as Pickies has been that no-one has ever heard of it… Whereas Java is an ‘open’ language with zillions of sites telling one EXACTLY how to code, Pick is as closed as it comes. Info is extremely difficult to come by unless you reach a group like this… and who tells a newbie that UniVerse is Pick? Or jBase or D3 or Revelation or…

Yeah, I’m all for helping people know about this thing called Pick.. I’ve been doing it for over 30 years, like some other folk around here, but I’m still not going to get around to every site to fix their code. It’ll be nice to know there’s a growing fraternity of newcomers to it.. it might give reason for companies to invest in it, and not see the lack of Pickies as reason to think there is no long term investment value…

If you think that another 2000 pick-ites will put you out of a job, you need to lift your eyes to the horizon. There are at least 4400 installed sites of Globus / T24, a banking app this is growing new programmers… and even you will not be able to service the workload…

For about the last decade I’ve been trying to encourage the MVDBMS providers to look to new sales, foster newcomer interest, and to create websites that are inviting to people who have never heard of Pick, etc. Most of them have no interest whatsoever. In one way or another they all claim to have an interest in selling new systems (what a concept eh?) but virtually all of them admit that they have no idea of how to do this, and/or it simply doesn’t fit with their company plans. And that’s where it all stops.
“Yes, we want to earn more money”
“Yes, it’s increasingly difficult to sell per-seat licenses”
“Yes, we know we face competition from the open market”
…then silence…
Uh, how about trying to sell into that open market to earn more money?
… dot … dot … anyone connecting dots?

All of these companies have made some sort of attempt. Revelation probably being the most notable with their presence at Linux conferences and elsewhere. (Pick Systems used to do shows too but gave up.) But none of them pursue new developers with the same sort of evangelism that we see everywhere else these days.

I have proposed many times that if they aren’t going to do it individually that the MVDBMS providers should pool resources, to co-op funds toward marketing the MVDBMS itself. Once interest is drawn to a common industry hub, people can investigate the applications and tools available, and make their own choices about which ones to use. People do this sort of investigation all the time with Linux, where they are faced with RedHat, CentOS, Fedora, Ubuntu, and a hundred other distros.

Part of the problem is that the MVDBMS vendors are so stuck on grabbing licenses from their competitors that they have no interest in drawing newcomers to “Pick”. They don’t see a motivation to collaborate with competitors to convey the image of a larger industry. OK, that’s a rotten position but the next natural follow-up to that is “so we’ll do it on our own”. But they don’t go there either.

People who get into MVDBMS Marketing are indoctrinated with the notion that the market is “here”, the Pick industry itself. Whereas in other industries Marketing people never limit themselves to preying upon their competition – they do that “too” but not “exclusively”.

How to turn it around?

1) First and foremost a budget is required to do anything. Get co-op funds from interested parties. That includes the DBMS providers, VARS, third-party tool and product providers, consultants, and even larger end-users. That’s everyone who is motivated to increase the size of the user base as a way of creating more of an audience for their offerings. End-users benefit by creating a larger pool of resources to continue enhancing their applications. (Think about it – as developers become tougher to find, end-user investments start to look unstable and they face huge expenses to get new people and new apps. End-users are strongly motivated to bring new people into the Pick industry.)

2) Target specific audiences. That means trade shows, vertical industries for which VARs have apps, and anywhere where we can connect with new developers.

3) Create websites, wikis, and blogs technical data and leads to business resources.

4) Nominate a central, non-partisan entity to market on behalf of the industry as a whole.

Another part of the problem is that everyone seems to think that someone else is going to do this stuff, that “someone” is going to fund it – but that never happens. And any individual corporate marketing is simply never enough.

There is no resource issue other than desire on the part of those who stand to benefit. I’d close my business and dedicate all efforts to providing that service to this industry, and I know others who would do so as well. Spectrum is probably in the best central position to undertake this entire initiative. While I relish the thought that Anyone would be doing that sort of evangelist work for this industry, I’m fairly confident and disappointed that none of us will ever be in a position to do so.

And That is why we are where we are today.

I hope I can crank out the other blogs within the next week or so. Thanks for visiting.

Tony Gravagno
Pick/MultiValue DBMS Industry Evangelist

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