The software market is an ecosystem driven by co-dependence. Makers of development tools live or die by the success of partners that build the applications customers want. That's why toolmakers are so eager to promote third-party innovation.
Serena Software has been building tools for software change management for more than 25 years. It recently diversified into the emerging market for enterprise mashups and applied an innovative set of Web 2.0 features to promote its partners and to co-manage leads through the sales funnel.
A lot of people know mashups as those cool Web pages that combine, say, a Google map with the location of coffee houses in San Francisco. But mashups have serious business uses, too.
Serena Business Mashups let users combine information from disparate enterprise applications to automate common processes. For example, a human relations mashup may pull data from a PeopleSoft employee database and combine it with sales information stored in SAP to pay a bonus for overachievers in sales.
Serena supports third-party developers in their sales and marketing efforts because each partner sale pulls through a sale of Serena's platform. The company gives partners an assortment of Web 2.0 tools to enrich the sales process and applies back-end lead management and customer relationship management software to gain insight into prospects' interests.
The company's new Mashup Exchange is similar in concept to eBay stores. In eBay's case, sellers can build virtual online storefronts that showcase their full line of products. Mashup Exchange does the same thing, but partners can choose from a much richer assortment of tools to build their individual storefronts, which are called MicroMarkets.
Within each MicroMarket, partners can select from a menu of features to present to prospects, such as discussion forums, videos, frequently asked questions and customer rating systems. They can also make it easy for customers to share discoveries with peers. Finally, partners can tap into a variety of project management tools to manage their back-end processes. MicroMarkets are free to Serena business partners.
The goal is to individualize the experience for the customer and the partner. “We wanted enormous flexibility so the platform could be a thousand different things to a thousand different people,” said Naisan Geula, Serena VP-alliances, partners and channels.
The Serena Mashup Exchange is powered by software from HiveLive, a developer of online community platforms. The lead management system is backed by software from MarketBright and CRM vendor Salesforce.com.
MarketBright watches customer behavior and creates weighted lead profiles based on that activity. For example, a customer who lingers in a MicroMarket, watches a video, reads some product literature and downloads a demo program is identified as a promising lead. That information is delivered to the seller and passed into the Salesforce.com system, where both Serena and its partners can follow up. Partners generate affiliate fees for sales of the Serena tool set.
Although only active for about a month, the Serena Mashup Exchange has generated promising results. Some 50 developers joined, with several closing sales the first week. More than 1,000 customers registered. Another 50 mashups will go live in the next month.
Serena has also added some Web 2.0 fun to the process. MashupTV is a series of humorous video vignettes that showcase the power of the integration platform. Viewers are invited to register for more information and to download free trials.
The exchange has had unexpected internal benefits, too. HiveLive is so flexible that Serena has wound down its use of other point collaboration products. “Every internal organization within Serena is now using HiveLive,” Geula said. “People can adapt data to the experience they want instead of wrapping themselves around the data.”