If you’ve spent any time searching for business software, you’ve probably spent half an hour reading through a company’s website and offerings, but you don’t come away with an idea of what they do or how. Better yet, there’s no free trial, or it’s the type of service that you can’t really test drive (like Platform-as-a-Service); so you leave with more questions than answers.
I’ve chosen two opposing examples of companies that use their software marketing and branding skills to try and give a sense of their product without having to go into great detail: Piston Cloud Computing and Domo Business Intelligence. Yes, I know these two companies offer completely difference services, but I’m not comparing them based on that. This is purely a comparison of their branding, nothing more.
This is company branding that I actually like a great deal. As I mentioned in my post a while back about Piston Cloud Computing, their sense of humor really sets them apart from other cloud infrastructure providers. The juxtaposition of 19th century illustrations with cloud computing is whimsical and amusing, something you don’t really see in business technology, usually. Most other providers are incredibly bland and tend to blend in with each other, but Piston Cloud has put visible thought and effort into what kind of personality and character they want to project. Whether that really tells you anything about their services is kind of moot; in the age of the cloud, if you can stand out from all the industry noise, then you’re one step closer to the top of the heap.
Where things get a little fuzzy is in the actual copy that Piston Cloud has on their site. Take this sentence for example,
“Combining all of the features of OpenStack, a hardened Linux operating system optimized for security, and Piston Cloud’s unique Moxie HA™ high availability framework, Piston Enterprise OpenStack seamlessly and dynamically allocates compute, storage and networking resources for a simpler way to deliver your organization’s business-critical applications.”
While it does include detail, it’s incomprehensible to anyone who doesn’t know anything about cloud infrastructure. You can parse it out after a couple read-throughs, but what consumer wants to? At the same time, it’s clearly written for technology managers, programmers, and engineers, who are probably the ones who are deciding upon a cloud computing solution for their company.
Domo was actually the inspiration for this post. After spending nearly an hour on their site, I still had no idea why their BI solution was supposedly better than all the rest out there. There are lots of photos of attractive people smiling vaguely at you or looking off into the distance, as well as declarations that BI is broken and Domo will “transform the way [companies] run their business.” Supposedly, “Domo changes BI from a cost center to a revenue center by helping you make money from the existing investments you’ve made to harness your data,” but they don’t say how; and since they’re still being very hush-hush about their solution, there are no useful screenshots to get a sense of what the Domo UI is like and what makes it different.
On top of that, their solution isn’t even available to the general public, and according to one of their own press releases from the Gartner BI summit in April, you have to sign an NDA before you’re even allowed to see a demo. While founder and CEO, Josh James, has an impressive track record, his reputation shouldn’t stand in for actual information on Domo as a BI solution. Much of the reporting surrounding Domo focuses primarily James’ past accomplishments since he’s had quite a successful career so far, and though that career is certainly be a key indicator in determining whether the company is destined for great things, it’s not a guarantee.
Of course, the whole point in being vague is that software vendors want you to contact them in order to get the answers to your burning questions; at the same time, we’re living in an age of unprecedented information access, so if that information isn’t readily available, it’s kind of a turn off. Whether they do it through exciting imagery or vague promises of changing the way you do business, the truly successful software vendors all demonstrate a knack for the art of spin.
To learn more about specific business intelligence solutions be sure to explore our Top 10 Business Intelligence Software report.