Two challenges faced Sybase and Weber in December 1999 when the product was announced. First, the young and confusing enterprise portal space was becoming crowded and several companies had established leadership beachheads before Sybase even entered the scene. Second, many skeptics wondered whether a struggling database company could really deliver on the e-business promise.
Beyond challenges, The Weber Group and Sybase also saw opportunities to educate the public and to establish a new vision and definition for enterprise portals. Early entrants in the enterprise portal space created the initial definition of an enterprise portal, which Sybase believed did not appropriately represent either the market or its product. As the market grew, so did confusion about what exactly an enterprise portal was. Because Sybase’s vision and capabilities for e-business went beyond those of its competitors, a key strategy would be to capitalize on these differences.
The Weber Group conducted extensive secondary research on e-business issues prior to developing a strategy for the campaign. In addition, Sybase provided its own research on business needs for an enterprise portal. In August, The Weber Group prepared an analysis of coverage for Sybase.
The Weber Group developed a launch plan for the product along with a continuing public relations plan for after the initial launch. The plans outlined specific goals, objectives, strategy and tactics.
- Establish Sybase Enterprise Portal as the market leader
- Differentiate Sybase Enterprise Portal from competitors
- Support increased sales of the product
Because of the wide-range of competitors in the enterprise portal market, the Weber Group's strategy was to educate our target reporters about Sybase Enterprise Portal and define the market for them. By doing so, Sybase would demonstrate leadership and vision in the portal space and become the standard of comparison for those key reporters.
The campaign initially focused on educating high-tech reporters about Sybase Enterprise Portal and enterprise portals in general.
To gain visibility for Enterprise Portal, Weber successfully launched the beta version of the product at the Sybase Open, a major tennis tournament in San Jose, Calif., sponsored by Sybase and well attended by high-tech and local media in the Bay Area. Weber scheduled one-on-one briefings with key high-tech journalists to introduce them to Sybase Enterprise Portal and map out the product’s strategy.
After the initial launch of the product, Weber continued to build momentum for Sybase Enterprise Portal by identifying reporters covering e-business and enterprise portals and offering them briefings on Sybase’s strategy. This allowed Sybase to establish relationships with key reporters covering their space. Weber also initiated an aggressive editorial calendar program to ensure Sybase Enterprise Portal inclusion in all portal stories.
Once Sybase Enterprise Portal was introduced to the market, Weber’s goal was to educate reporters about Sybase’s complete, long-term vision for e-business and to establish Sybase as the market leader. We maintained momentum through a consistent stream of targeted monthly announcements about new customers, partners, analyst reports, awards and features for the product.
In July, Weber and Sybase conducted a very successful press tour in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York and Boston to introduce new features in the planning stages and further educate reporters about the differences between Sybase Enterprise Portal and competitor offerings. The press tour resulted in excellent coverage for Sybase and established ongoing relationships with key influencers.
In addition, Weber initiated a speaking program for Sybase’s Enterprise Portal spokespeople and customers. To date, customers and spokespeople have represented Enterprise Portal at five industry events targeting executive level decision-makers.
The Weber Group has firmly established Sybase Enterprise Portal as a market leader. Additionally, a GartnerGroup study released in October positioned Sybase as a leading visionary in the enterprise portal space. Also in October, readers of Intelligent Enterprise awarded Sybase Enterprise Portal first place in the enterprise information portal category.
In addition, Sybase Enterprise Portal is considered the leader among key journalists. Teri Robinson writing in PlanetIT said, “Today, Sybase says it has a complete solution with all the components . . . [Sybase] is proving itself to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to portals.” Feedback from other enterprise portal writers indicates Sybase leads the pack.
As a result of our efforts, the tone of articles also began to reflect Sybase’s vision of enterprise portals, as in this Infoworld quote:
Bob Breton, senior director of product strategy for the enterprise solutions division at Sybase, noted the recent push to turn e-commerce transactions into fuller and more personalized relationships.
"We see [portals] stepping up over the longer term, moving from just purely trying to pull someone in and engage them in a business transaction to really managing this whole business relationship life cycle from the beginning all the way through that whole customer experience," Breton said. Infoworld, April 24, 2000
Overall, Sybase Enterprise Portal coverage exceeded 800 column inches between July 1999 to August 2000. That represents more coverage than any competing product and 50 percent more than Oracle’s and 83 percent more than IBM’s portal products, Sybase’s key competitors (see graph below). Coverage included features in almost all of the major technology trade publications and coverage in the New York Times, San Jose Mercury News and other business publications.
Most importantly, Sybase continues to receive record interest in the product from new and existing customers who are eager to test the new features and extensions that are being made available.