Defeating Wrap and Roll

Wrap and roll is a sales and marketing technique that involves a complicated set of maneuvers designed to placate your most feared competitors.  In most cases, wrap and roll is used by larger companies to attack smaller, disruptive, or fast growing start-ups within a particular niche market.  Whether wrap and roll slows, stops, or allows for M&A within a market, it definitely has an impact on innovation.

Wrap and roll needlessly confuses customers, prospects, analysts, and media.  It starts with an innocent phrase, “yes, we can do that and have done that for years” and ends with a new product launch, professional service bills, or an acquisition.  Basically, large companies cannot react quickly enough to smaller disruptive technology challenges.  However, these smaller companies typically lack the scale and market power of the larger companies.  Faced with the prospect of losing a key market, the larger company puts their machine into motion.

First marketing springs to action creating comparative charts, graphs, and FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) presentations that attempt to create an aura of superiority.   Second, technical marking tests the competitive gear to find weaknesses in the products and to share information with M&A teams.  Third, sales begin to circulate the marketing FUD and attempts to slow down the sales cycle to give them a chance to win.  Fourth, engineering teams attempt to create a new product while M&A teams look at potential acquisitions.  Fifth, engineering fails to create a product while the M&A teams decide that the top two competitors are too expensive and purchase a relatively unknown company.  (Note: This phase usually takes a long time as companies will get mired in the build vs. buy phase while trying to band-aid a solution together.)  Finally, the entire niche solution is renamed and put into a new suite of products that give customers increased functionality without additional licensing costs; maintenance is another issue.

While wrap and roll won’t produce one hundred percent success rates, it can be effective in slowing down a hot market by forcing proof of concepts, competitive bake-offs, and request for proposals.  Wrap and roll also serves as a mechanism whereby the larger company attempts to commoditize a growing market while stymying disruptive start-up behavior by choking off vital revenue growth.  An additional consequence of these actions is increased consolidation within the niche as other large companies seek to fill product gaps.

How do you defeat wrap and roll?  Guts, determination, listen, disruption, and an incredible team.

  • Guts; to say no.  No to the naysayers, no to due diligence, no to the quick payout.
  • Determination; to win.  To find roads where there are roadblocks, to work harder and faster than the competition, to know that we are the best.
  • Listen; to your customers.  Build what they need, deliver what they want, and give them what they desire.
  • Disrupt; all areas.  Provide a revolutionary product, present the wow factor, and support the heck out of them.
  • Team; in perfect cadence.  There is nothing more wonderful than a company that marches in perfect cadence and executes across all areas (executives, engineering, marketing, sales, etc.) of the organization.

Here’s to the companies that have the guts to build teams that have the determination to listen to customers and disrupt markets.

Technology: A bright future!

Today’s technical headlines are dominated with the likes of Cisco, Juniper, IBM, HP, Oracle, Microsoft, Intel, Google, Research In Motion, Apple, Dell, SAP, Nokia, and more. The common denominator with all these companies is size; size of their revenue streams, size of their sales forces, size of their channels, size of their bank accounts, size of their checks to Gartner, Forrester, EMA, etc. and more.

Some companies believe in organic growth while others prefer inorganic growth through large and small acquisitions. Some spend time winning and keeping customers happy while others would rather spend money on fancy marketing campaigns. Some have grown so large that they compete with themselves while others seem lost defending tired old positions and ideas. Some have executives that are the envy of the industry while others are saddled with executives born out of the dot com boom.

We have lived through HDLC, X.25, Banyon Vines, Frame Relay, ATM, Token Ring, Twin-X, give way to Ethernet, Wireless, MPLS, and more. We’ve lived through the wars between OS/2 and Windows, Active Directory vs. Novel Directory Services, Word Perfect vs. Word, Cisco vs. Motorola, Palm vs. RIM, Inktomi vs Google, and more. We saw RISC vs CISC, Unix vs Linux, Mainframe vs. Servers, Distributed Computing vs Datacenters, Mainframes vs. servers acting as mainframes, Virtualization vs. everything, and more.

While we have come so far, we have so much further to go. While the Internet has become a nice to have to a must have, it remains slow, unsecured, and unreliable. While TCP/IP binds us together, it has created a new wild west for criminals and electronic warfare. While we cannot live without our mobile phones, we can’t drive across town or enter our homes without the connection dropping. While everyone’s memories are electronic, data back-up remains cumbersome and an afterthought. While we crave open standards, we are saddled with proprietary operating systems and applications that stifle innovation and choice.

To the large companies, trash the Innovator’s Dilemma and innovate your respective industries. Don’t be afraid of change, embrace it (and I’m not talking about reorganization!) To the small companies, disrupt with technology and business models. Don’t be afraid of the large companies and carve out your niches. To the start-ups, go for it!
Don’t believe the naysayers whether they be analysts, VCs, or “friends” and believe in yourselves.

Here’s to innovation, disruption, and the bright future of technology!