Debbie Wilson posted a blog on Cool Tools about 2006 being the “Year of the Blog”. In it she poses the question of why do people blog about this space and tries to answer it as well. Jason Busch and Doug Hudgeon have made stabs at this topic as well in the past, which can be found here and here. Although not original, I thought I might throw my motivations into the ring as well, since ESF was the first vendor based blog in spend management.
As this blog is not about the war in Iraq/terrorism or a beanie baby collection or IU basketball, it is obviously being produced for reasons other than a hobby. This led me to think, because the idea, creation and execution is not something that happened one night over beers, but rather, over time with extensive (albeit fragmented) thought.
- Clients: Iasta has a very large and growing group of software users, most of whom are new to e-Sourcing. This blog is an excellent way for us to communicate best practices and spread good ideas from others that could benefit the user community. Originally, I thought ESF might act like a forum with long threads of Q&A but the audience is shy, for the most part, so I do my best just to give good advice. First and foremost, this blog is a small part of the overall customer satisfaction and support platform.
- Passion: I helped create and partially own this company. Everything (non-family) I do is related to Iasta in some way and I now have 7 years of my life invested to see this succeed. A business is much like a baby, over time you see it change and grow up, and as an owner you have a tremendous amount of influence on the outcome. This is one project of many that I feel will ultimately help Iasta in the long run. I can already say, that there is no question this has been the case.
- Marketing: I think it should be pretty obvious that Iasta does not have the same marketing budget as other companies like SAP or Ariba. ESF has proven to be a good way for us to get our name out and stay fresh in the minds of people who watch the industry and might evaluate solutions like ours in the future. Thought leadership is an over-used and under-delivered term but it accurately describes what we are trying to accomplish. Just think, if we provide this much advice, dialogue and information for free, think about how much value our paying clients receive.
- Spite: Remember when George Constanza proclaimed that just for spite he would not break up with a girl because she thought he was going to? Well, two years ago we lost an evaluation at a very large energy/pipeline company. At the time we made the “final 3” in the selection process primarily because the team liked our software capabilities better than other vendors. We later learned that we were eliminated because they incorrectly believed that Iasta could not support them. As it turns out, another vendor in the space was billing Iasta as “4 guys in a garage” – to discredit our ability. Uhhh…not quite. Iasta works with some of the biggest companies in the world with people on location all over the globe and support services that are unmatched by any other vendor. Of course, it took a couple low blows to steel my resolve and to create a campaign to aggressively counter the perceived disadvantage of being small company with no support service (as some were lead to believe). ESF provides a nice forum to explain our position on strategic sourcing and not hide in the shadows. We are front and center in this industry and can work with any company, of any size, at any location. So, like George, I spite my enemies and their web of misinformation!
- Collaboration: This has been retroactive as I did not anticipate the power of networking from a blog. I have met a large number of influential people which only helps to enhance the growth of Iasta of time. As I learn great new ideas from people like Dave Stephens or Eric Strovink, it ultimately helps everyone else I know.
- Ego: Lastly, I have to admit, it is pretty cool to speak and know that people are listening. I have had countless people come up to me at industry functions and introduce themselves and tell me that they read ESF and enjoy it. It is nice to get validation that the hours you spend working are actually appreciated, I think this is a universal trait. Judging from the >20% increase in monthly traffic, I believe we are putting out content that people are valuing by spending valuable time to read.
By the way, if you were wondering, I do not own any Beanie Babies and I could write a blog on IU basketball but would need 4 hours a day to magically appear on my watch. Some one needs to work on that invention…