PIPESCOM – Because the world needs yet another acronym…

I just can’t help myself. No seriously, I have no choice here but to introduce yet another acronym but at least this one doesn’t have three letters. So how did PIPESCOM come about and what does it mean?

Our REPAMA methodology compares and contrasts different vendors’ marketing approaches by reverse-engineering their positioning and messaging strategies. To facilitate easy comparison between vendors we must be able to categorise the way they approach different elements of their marketing strategy. And with that categorisation I’m afraid, comes acronyms.

To categorise how a vendor creates its value propositions we introduced MITICOR that denotes that a value proposition typically claims to deliver benefits that broadly fall within the following areas – Market, Income, Time, Institutional, Cost, Operational and Risk.

To categorise how a vendor approaches the decision making unit we introduced IGIDBU – to show the Initiator, Gatekeeper, Influencer, Decision maker, Budget holder and User elements of the decision making unit. We didn’t create these elements as many before us have worked on defining the different roles with the decision making unit. We simply stood on the shoulders of giants and then wrapped yet another acronym around them.

So, PIPESCOM? One of the issues we face when comparing infrastructure software and hardware vendors’ marketing approaches is in understanding when the arguments they provide to their prospects about their claimed features are similar or contrasting to those of their competitors. Obviously, in isolation one claimed feature such as…

“…supports XML”

…can be seen as very similar to…

“…supports content-agnostic encoding”

for example. But when comparing 3 or more vendors’ claimed features it becomes more complicated. The answer, for us at least, is to create categories into which each of the claimed features can be placed. Comparing vendors’ product strategies then becomes a case of comparing the categories their respective claimed features fall into. In the example above we might say that both vendors are making a claim for how their products interface with the outside world.

PIPESCOM is the first draft of our categorisation of features. To be honest, I found it pretty tough to arrive at a categorisation that encompasses all of the capabilities we’re likely to come across in infrastructure software/hardware. I didn’t want too broad categories or too narrow so this is my first cut. As I take the technique to other areas of the infrastructure software/hardware market, and perhaps beyond, I’m sure PIPESCOM will be changed and adapted.

I guess I should at least include a definition of what I mean by “Feature” here. So for me a feature is a dispassionate and discrete fact about a product or service that does not seek to persuade. This definition is close to that used in Spin Selling and will be familiar to anyone who has looked at that methodology. Importantly a feature is not an Advantage or a Benefit.

The letters represent the following elements.

Packaging, Interfaces, Process, Ease of use, Speed, Commercial, Operational, Management.

Element Description Example
Packaging How the product is packaged and configured for the sale. One product, modular, service, etc.
Interfaces How the product is integrated into existing or new environments. Works with SAP, supports WS* interfaces, etc.
Process The product changes or improves a process within the end-user’s organisation. Creating, deploying, managing, etc.
Ease of use Describing the usage characteristics of a product Ease of use, flexible usage, simple to use…, etc.
Speed Features relating to the performance of the product Execution performance, capacity, scale, etc.
Commercial The commercial elements of the product Price, rental, service, etc.
Operational Relating to the operation of the product Stable, high-availability, robust, etc.
Management Features relating to the management of the product Deployment tools, configuration management, monitoring, etc.

I will be including PIPESCOM related research in the next release of the methodology but first I have to stress test it to ensure that I’ve included the correct categories. After all, today’s PIPESCOM could be tomorrow’s PIPESCOMXYJPQEWXMN.

But let’s hope not.

Danny Goodall

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