Business-to-Business | Brand importance grows as tech category fragments
Brand is especially important in technology as the category becomes more heterogeneous. It is rare today for a company to work exclusively with one B2B company, such as IBM or SAP. With so many entry points, companies are more likely to work with a group of B2B providers to service different needs, such as cloud, desktop, or data centers.
Because so many of the solutions are virtual and require minimal long-term investment, it is relatively easy to make a change. However, since new solutions are appearing at a rapid pace it is difficult to keep up and feel confident about being up-to-date. The speed of innovation and opportunity is in tension with the ability of organizations to cope.
A price war is emerging among cloud providers because offerings are similar and being commoditized. Although Amazon AWS leads in cloud, Microsoft Azure is growing quickly, and Google is coming with a somewhat differing approach, leveraging its consumer-side expertise in data analytics, which adds value. With products launched at the end of 2018, IBM is becoming more aggressive. Globally, Alibaba is also among the top-tier providers of cloud power.
After these top-tier, multi-solution cloud providers the market becomes fragmented. The leading providers of cloud computing power face competition from brands that offer a specialty based in the cloud. For example, Salesforce was a pioneer in Customer Relationship Management software and is known for the ease of adoption. Adobe, with its acquisition of Magento, has a suite of tools to help companies create more customized campaigns.
The power of brand
The shift to cloud is a disruptive punctuation point for businesses when they need to decide whether to buy, build, or rent cloud service and, if choosing a cloud partner, whether to align with one of the majors or with a series of specialists that together form a customized service.
Since the cloud is evolving so quickly, clients look for reassurance that the cloud provider they choose will continue to evolve rapidly and remain on the cutting-edge of cloud capability in ways that can help the client succeed.
The keys for winning amid this cloud competition are security and trust. When companies stored data in their own data centers, they had a sense of security, justified or not. Putting all that information in the cloud is a leap of trust. Each of the leading competitors for cloud leadership tries to leverage its particular advantages.
Entering the cloud early with AWS and the idea of infrastructure as a service, Amazon created a low-friction experience. IBM brings its reputation in full-service client engagement and artificial intelligence, which, along with data analysis, is also an advantage for Google. Microsoft has a legacy physical presence in many businesses that it leverages as it attempts to transition clients to the cloud.
Historically, Microsoft had separate campaigns for each of its products, such as Windows, Surface, and Azure, its cloud service. Audiences would see simultaneous campaigns that did not necessarily stitch together. Now, Microsoft is focusing on its masterbrand, trying to come to audiences as a unified solutions provider and partner.
A masterbrand halo can add strength or illuminate problems. Some retailer business customers resist supporting Amazon AWS, the cloud provider, if Amazon, the e-commerce giant, is hurting their business. Some young people resist Microsoft because of a legacy that to them is about being temperamentally aggressive and closed in execution.