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Isabelle Guis is the Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Egnyte, overseeing all global marketing as well as product and go-to-market strategies. She previously served as EMC’s vice president of Marketing for the Public Cloud Solutions Group and Enterprise Storage Division, driving cloud buyer and service provider segmentations, as well as messaging, product positioning and go-to-market strategies for the company’s core storage solutions. Isabelle has also held leadership positions at Avaya, Big Switch Networks, Cisco Systems, and Nortel Networks.

She holds a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Supelec (France), and an MBA from Harvard Business School

You can follow her on Twitter: @iguis

She will be live on May 19 starting 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which she will answer as many questions as possible.

  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    over 2 years ago #

    Hey Isabelle, thanks for coming on here today!

    You were recently quoted saying "It's lonely at the top for women in tech." What type of initiatives, by other companies and Egnyte, do you see happening today that are truly changing this unfortunate reality?

    • IG

      Isabelle Guis

      over 2 years ago #

      Hi Logan, Thanks for asking this in advance and give me some time to think about it :)

      Each company is different and diversity cannot be forced upon companies by board or an executive team. To be successful and sustained, diversity at the top positions has to be desired first. And to desire it, companies have to understand that women will bring a new perspective to their vision and strategy, will strengthen them and ultimately bestow a competitive advantage.

      I see this happening more and more in Silicon Valley because High Tech is one of the most fast-paced industries when it comes to innovation and competitiveness. This is exactly what having women in executive positions brings. Just like two people with a different education, citizenship and professional experience perceive things differently, people with different genders have different perspectives.

      The dynamics of executive staff meetings at Egnyte definitely changed after my joining. When we discussed strategic decisions, my perception of market opportunities and risks, of our user experience, of our internal processes was very different than the rest of the team. And far from shutting down my ideas or resisting uncomfortable changes, the management team gave me more responsibilities and influence. They made me the first woman Chief Strategy Officer in a cloud company – to include these perspectives in all aspects of our solution, from go-to-market to product.

      Every great male leader has a woman in his life to look up to. A recent Harvard study found that tech has one of the smallest pay gaps out of any industry. The world is changing and, while we still have a long way to go, changing for the better.

      Having women in leadership positions is a business-savvy decision that will benefit other stockholders, employees and more importantly customers. In this hyper competitive market, it will become a question of survival. Finally, I would love to see more VC-backed start-ups led by female founder and CEO which - to me - would be the ultimate equality in technology and Silicon Valley but also a personal goal.

      I speak more about this topic in this video: http://www.zdnet.com/video/egnyte-cso-isabelle-guis-its-lonely-at-the-top-for-women-in-tech/

      6 Share
      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        over 2 years ago #

        "Women will bring a new perspective to their vision and strategy, will strengthen them and ultimately bestow a competitive advantage."

        Cannot agree with this enough.

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 2 years ago #

    Bonjour Isabelle,

    Stoked to see a fellow Supelec alumnus doing an AMA in @Sean 's inspiring GH community.
    Vive Supelec! :)

    Hope you read SC Moatti's book "Mobilized" - pretty sure you know SC, too.
    She did a great job in my opinion and it's very relevant to mobile growth.

    You clearly have a rock solid B2B high-tech growth marketing experience.
    So I'll ask a few questions in that realm - they've been asked separately

    1) In B2B high-tech, there generally are several target buyers to influence to drive sales. What are the challenges and the opportunities of having to deal with several personas? How do you go about creating a customer journey that drives sales in such context?

    There is so much to learn out there!

    Merci beaucoup Isabelle.

    • IG

      Isabelle Guis

      over 2 years ago #

      Thanks for the many questions, Arsene! Trying to answer them one at a time... :)

      Egnyte sells in many markets, to many different sized companies. The upshot of selling across verticals and dealing with different types of target buyers is always having an opportunity. We have smoother revenue streams and are less dependent on economic changes. For instance, SMBs are smaller and many deals that are more predictable (shorter sales cycles), but enterprise deals are large and unpredictable. Complementing each other nicely.

      The challenge is staying consistent in the face of so many opportunities. Go-to-market activities are targeted to personas and leverage venues, like email, SEM, tradeshows, the list goes on! While our image and offering is consistent for all.

      The customer journey isn’t linear anymore, and customers by and large dictate their own journey selecting what to read/learn from whom when and how they want. Our job is to be available at every step, and in every format, and then respond to discovery with steady engagement.

      3 Share
  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 2 years ago #

    Splitting up my 8-question block into 8 questions at @anujadhiya's request:

    2) SaaS is disrupting the traditional B2B software sale cycle. In that respect, do you feel that more and more of the techniques used in B2C growth marketing apply in SaaS? If so, how?

  • DL

    Dylan La Com

    over 2 years ago #

    Thanks for being here today Isabelle!

    What are the biggest challenges with growing Egnyte currently? How are you (thinking of) overcoming these?

    • IG

      Isabelle Guis

      over 2 years ago #

      Hi Dylan, I think my answer here is quite similar to what I answer @Aldin earlier.

      The biggest challenge is staying focused! When too many opportunities are available, and are very different, it’s tempting to go in all directions at once. The best way to address this is to build different go-to-market teams with a single focus and their own marketing tools. Based on your resources you may only have a few sometimes even just build one at a time.

      The other way to scale intelligently is with partnerships. Our integrations with Google to target millenials and Microsoft to target enterprises are just two examples of the ecosystem we’ve built. This ecosystem strategy, in tandem with a targeted field approach to do the work in the trenches, is the best way to scale a tech offering.

      We are also investing massively in R&D and expanding into new markets but... I can't talk much about it yet! :)

  • TS

    Terence Strong

    over 2 years ago #

    Hi Isabelle:

    Thanks for doing this!

    How would you differentiate an eCommerce company in a crowded market with many low cost competitors selling a similar product?

    -Terence

    • IG

      Isabelle Guis

      over 2 years ago #

      This is a great question, Terence, that we are getting more and more with the recent articles about unicorns.

      Freemium is a great tool to scale rapidly in B2C and to get brand recognition. But it comes at a high cost (companies with a free FSS offering spend at least 12% of their revenues on freemium infrastructure) and it assumes that once you have the critical mass of users and strong brand you can monetize it. Many start-ups – the famous unicorns – started this strategy with a plan to spend VC money but no plan to monetize after. In B2C converting free consumers to paid users can be achieved with higher value features or by showing ads.

      In B2B, it does not work this way. Probably less than 1% of your free users have a managerial power on the matter of company-wide purchase and adoption.
      At Egnyte we knew day one we wanted to serve enterprises so we went for a more traditional and financially responsible B2B approach. This paid out as we now have a strong customer base and are on the path to be cash flow positive this year.

      How do we stay competitive? We create more enterprise-focused features with higher value and white-glove customer service.
      · We stopped offering storage which is a low value and low margin product. We instead focus on our content collaboration solution.
      · The money that would have been sunk into a freemium infrastructure was invested in enterprise-grade features that are unique to Egnyte instead. We support hybrid storage (in the cloud and on-premises), advanced security (hybrid EKM), tight integration with major business productivity applications (Salesforce, Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Docusign, etc.) and many more.
      · Our roadmap is solely enterprise, making us more responsive to market demand and changes.
      · We developed best in class customer service (support and professional services), differentiating ourselves by helping customers with complex migrations and integrations.

      3 Share
  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    over 2 years ago #

    Hi Isabelle,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us! Here's my question:

    With your cloud collaboration solution, do you see any significant competition from the likes of Box and Dropbox in the more "traditional" companies that you would normally go after ? If yes, how have you been able to combat that? If not, what challenges do you face with getting in the door with startups that have now scaled but had adopted other solutions from the start and getting them to switch?

    • IG

      Isabelle Guis

      over 2 years ago #

      Hi Javier, your questions are quite similar to Terence's - great minds think alike! :) So I will just copy it here. Let me know if you need further clarifications. Thanks!

      Freemium is a great tool to scale rapidly in B2C and to get brand recognition. But it comes at a high cost (companies with a free FSS offering spend at least 12% of their revenues on freemium infrastructure) and it assumes that once you have the critical mass of users and strong brand you can monetize it. Many start-ups – the famous unicorns – started this strategy with a plan to spend VC money but no plan to monetize after. In B2C converting free consumers to paid users can be achieved with higher value features or by showing ads.

      In B2B, it does not work this way. Probably less than 1% of your free users have a managerial power on the matter of company-wide purchase and adoption.
      At Egnyte we knew day one we wanted to serve enterprises so we went for a more traditional and financially responsible B2B approach. This paid out as we now have a strong customer base and are on the path to be cash flow positive this year.

      How do we stay competitive? We create more enterprise-focused features with higher value and white-glove customer service.
      · We stopped offering storage which is a low value and low margin product. We instead focus on our content collaboration solution.
      · The money that would have been sunk into a freemium infrastructure was invested in enterprise-grade features that are unique to Egnyte instead. We support hybrid storage (in the cloud and on-premises), advanced security (hybrid EKM), tight integration with major business productivity applications (Salesforce, Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Docusign, etc.) and many more.
      · Our roadmap is solely enterprise, making us more responsive to market demand and changes.
      · We developed best in class customer service (support and professional services), differentiating ourselves by helping customers with complex migrations and integrations.

  • KS

    kris shkodrani

    over 2 years ago #

    Hi, Isabelle. It is great to have you here answering questions. Can you share any insight from your experience in developing and launching new products with us? How do you decide on what features go into the first release of a new product?

    Thank you!

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 2 years ago #

    3) We are seeing an uprise, especially among younger generations, in new forms of media consumptions (Snapchat, Tribe, YouNow etc...). Do you feel there are new B2B lead generation opportunities stemming from this new digital trend? If so, which ones?

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 2 years ago #

    4) When you run B2B marketing at a large organization, the content marketing strategy generally plays a central role. Are you seeing new forms of content (content types, formats) emerge or likely to emerge even more in the next five years? If so, which ones?

    • IG

      Isabelle Guis

      over 2 years ago #

      Content types are evolving at a rapid pace and we’re continuously leveraging with new avenues for engagement. Today you see more personal interactions where customers expect an authentic voice versus a corporate pitch. Not surprising, social media and online forums have empowered people to seek the advice of peers who can give them a genuine opinion and point of view, which has in turn challenged marketers to question approaches and their understanding of who the customer is.
      Even in a B2B landscape, you have to be mindful that people want to hear the real voice of the company (individuals working there - not a generic corporate voice). So you have to strike a balance between relaying information to help organizations make smart business decisions, and the fact that you are speaking to a human being with professional challenges too.

      While the content has changed the how and where it will be consumed has evolved too. There are so many ways to publish content today and while we have our own blog platform, we are seeing even higher engagement in communities like LinkedIn and Medium where people are actively searching, reading and telling stories. It’s also becoming more visual with video, imagery and infographics that draw people in. We’ll definitely see more interest in shorter form content like checklists that can be quickly consumed on-the-go versus white papers.

      Gamification and clever ways to keep people interacting with brands is definitely another aspect that all marketers need to focus on moving forward even for B2B.

      3 Share
      • AL

        Arsene Lavaux

        over 2 years ago #

        Merci Isabelle. I like your human angle, it makes a lot of sense. Interested to see what kind of impact livestreaming over the social network will spawn in the years to come on making marketing more human, more authentic, real.

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 2 years ago #

    7) What are the challenges of rolling out a global B2B growth marketing strategy when you are, let's pick for the example, a U.S.-headquartered company? How would you recommend addressing them?

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 2 years ago #

    6) What are your favorite MarTech platforms for B2B marketing? Which ones do you enjoy working with?

    • IG

      Isabelle Guis

      over 2 years ago #

      Thanks for this question. Since I can’t be seen as promoting one company over another, I have to be a little non-controversial.. :)

      For search and display, we like AdWords because of their constant innovation (and they’re the dominant force in search and display advertising) and Bing Ads because they provide quality ROI.

      For SEO, Moz.com is great at providing actionable information and of course Google Webmasters is the industry standard in terms of meta tags and linking. For automation, Marketo has great UX and is very well-rounded. Hubspot is an integrated inbound tool, and we love how often it’s updated with useful features.

      On the account-based side, we like the way Leandata integrates data between leads, contacts, and contacts with profiles. Sirius Decision has a great “demand waterfall” model that’s pretty widely used by B2B companies to measure lead-to-revenue. And for CRM, of course we use Salesforce!

      Many tools to investigate for you now if not familiar with them already!!

      3 Share
  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 2 years ago #

    8) How important is it to localize content for each international target market? What's the best way to go about doing that?

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 2 years ago #

    5) Especially in high-tech B2B marketing, third-party analyst content creation (Gartner, Forrester, IDC and the likes) has been a staple for years. Do you think more user-generated forms of content will emerge as key growth marketing assets? If you do, how do you see that materialize?

  • AA

    Aldin A

    over 2 years ago #

    Hi Isabelle,

    Thanks for being here!

    1) can you list out your marketing stack and state your rationale for for each product?

    2) can you name some resources outside of GH that you use to learn about and stay up to date with growth.

    3) can you talk about your retention strategy?

    4) can you talk about your engagement strategy?

    5)can you talk about some of the challenges of scaling a company and how you overcame them?

    6) how did you initially find that companies you wanted on-board.How did you find your champions inside the company? And how did you convince them to give you a shot when you were just starting?

    Thanks

    • IG

      Isabelle Guis

      over 2 years ago #

      Hi Aldin, thanks for your question. Let me try to answer to #3 on retention strategy first and address the others later on.

      This is an important topic: growing a business is one side of the equation and the other side is thinking about what you do with customers once you have them - and how you keep them. At Egnyte we focus a lot on customer retention and satisfaction. Here are a few of the ways we do this:
      * We customize training for every customer, which helps reduce both the learning and adoption curve of users. We especially focus on features that are the most relevant for their business/role/geo etc.
      * We offer integrations with other business productivity tools such as Google Apps, Microsoft O365, Docusign, Salesforce.com so users can leverage our solution without changing their environment and vendors breed stronger loyalty for our customers.
      * We collect a great deal of analytics looking at usage patterns to understand when adoption is not as broad and work with customers to assess why and support their efforts.

      3 Share
    • IG

      Isabelle Guis

      over 2 years ago #

      In not particular order here are my thoughts on question #6 and getting the first customers.

      I wasn’t here when Egnyte began in 2007, so I can’t speak to what happened in the early days. But I would say that today we have a lot of new customers thanks to our free trial.

      As I lead the development of new solutions, I usually start by doing a lot of market research and customer interviews. This helps me refine the product and narrow down the best customer profile (vertical, buyer persona etc.). I then meet with people in my network who fit the profile and to whom this solution will bring value to. If after meeting with them and presenting the idea, it is not the case I go back to the whiteboard but if it is then I offer them to be part of a beta program (free usage of the tool in exchange of feedback).

      This is the best way to validate the use cases and get customer feedback. If you really solve a problem it is then easy to convert them (happily) to a paying customer and even a reference.

      Regardless of the outcome it helps you build relationship with champions of innovation within companies (early adopters), which are not just limited to the IT leaders, but also those in line of business like marketing, sales and operations.

    • IG

      Isabelle Guis

      over 2 years ago #

      Let me try with #5 now and the challenges of scaling a company.

      The biggest challenge is staying focused! When too many opportunities are available, and are very different, it’s tempting to go in all directions at once. The best way to address this is to build different go-to-market teams with a single focus and their own marketing tools. Based on your resources you may only have a few sometimes even just build one at a time.

      The other way to scale intelligently is with partnerships. Our integrations with Google to target millenials and Microsoft to target enterprises are just two examples of the ecosystem we’ve built. This ecosystem strategy, in tandem with a targeted field approach to do the work in the trenches, is the best way to scale a tech offering.

      2 Share
  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 2 years ago #

    Another quick question, Isabelle!

    9) I see that you graduated from a reputable engineering school in Europe and that you, maybe as a result, do "behind-the-scenes coding". How being an engineer helped you in your growth marketing work?

  • ML

    Madenga Le Bouder

    over 2 years ago #

    Good morning Isabelle,

    Congratulations. I will not be able to follow live due to a schedule conflict. My question is: Where do you see future growth coming from? Domestic or international? If international, what are some of the challenges you face from a marketing and strategy perspective to sustain that growth. Thank you.

    Madenga

  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    over 2 years ago #

    Hi Isabelle,

    Thank you so much for agreeing to do this AMA.

    1) From your days in enterprise where have you seen the cultural shifts and how can large companies keep up with the pace of innovation in small organisations?

    2) Do you have a 'hot' region of technology you would be backing to emerge in a big way in the next 3-5 years?

    3) Are there any interesting technologies that you've seen needlessly shelved, that particularly interested you?

    • IG

      Isabelle Guis

      over 2 years ago #

      Hi Edward, thank you so much for your great questions. Let me answer #1 on enterprise cultural shift for now. More to come later!

      Large enterprises used to be vertically integrated, a very long time ago and then realized they could not afford the different business models and operating cost for a silicon factory up to the software. They shifted to be more horizontal and focus on a "slice" or layer of a solution (obviously I am very tech biased so... bear with me). But today, even horizontal firms just can’t compete with the pace of technology (enabled by the cloud) and the increased sophistication needed by user. The world is too complex, and startups move and scale with unprecedented agility.

      Instead of fighting it, enterprises have to embrace this creativity. To do this they need to focus on their core business and accept that for additional features (may be more specific to some markets or in technical area they do not have expertise in) they should rely on an ecosystem. Start-ups see value in partnering with large enterprise for visibility and go-to-market reasons and are more than happy to develop against large enterprise APIs to make the end-to-end solution better. This is a win-win.

      Now you also have to recognize that in any partnership there will be unavoidable overlaps too in some areas but tomorrow's world is about co-ompetition.

      4 Share
    • IG

      Isabelle Guis

      over 2 years ago #

      This time I will address question #3 on interesting technologies.

      The biggest trend we’re seeing is the growth of unstructured data (human generated data). Structured data, generated by machines, is more predictable and many big data and database technologies already exist for it. With all the fuss on internet of things (IoT), eyes have drifted off human-generated data where as last year it surpassed machine-generated data in storage capacity and revenues.

      As tech moves into a new area of mobile, cloud, big data and social apps, creating, sharing and finding relevant information is getting more and more difficult.

      Knowledge workers spend 36% of their time looking for content across an average of 4 systems and only find the information they are looking for 56% of the time. However with more collaboration across companies and so many ways to share content, companies have never been so much at risk of losing their intellectual property (IP). Data losses and breaches happen all the time.

      Solutions that protect IP and still allow for business agility and productivity will be incredibly important. There is a tremendous potential for content analytics to help companies better protect their content and get even smarter about how they enable end users to store and access it. This is definitely an area of interest to me and to Egnyte.

  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    over 2 years ago #

    I read an interesting tweet you put out about Vineet Jain's experience with VC's. What is your experience with them and do you see corporate venture groups being a more effective source of capital?

    • IG

      Isabelle Guis

      over 2 years ago #

      Glad you saw the tweet! VC’s, funding and raising capital is always a great conversation, especially in Silicon Valley. :)

      At the moment the conversations I hear are more about what you’re using the capital for than the source (i.e. VC’s versus direct corporate investment). I touched on this a bit above when I discussed with @terencestrong and @javierfeldman our decision not to have a so-called ‘freemium’ model.

      Unlike unicorns, we favored a moderate growth strategy and being financially responsible (we’ve only taken $62.5 million in seven years compare to $800M-$1B+ for unicorns in the same space as us). If you’ve ever heard the phrase “if you build it they will come,” I think a number of growing companies seem to take this approach, building out software, marketing and other areas and worrying about paying customers later.

      I joined Egnyte because from day 1 their goal was to monetize and we’re on our way to being cash flow positive very soon.

      If you want a bit more of a dive into Vineet’s thinking I would check out this recent article: https://mattermark.com/curb-your-expectations/?utm_campaign=GrowthHackers&utm_content=AMA&utm_source=IsabelleGuis

      2 Share
  • IG

    Isabelle Guis

    over 2 years ago #

    Hi Everyone, Happy to join the session and see your questions! Will do my best to answer in the coming 90min. And the best question will receive a free Egnyte account! Let's get started :)

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 2 years ago #

    A last one to round it up to ten:

    10) Do you think the future of conversational marketing will be AI chatbot-based, solely human, a mix of the two, or maybe, not conversational at all?!

  • IG

    Isabelle Guis

    over 2 years ago #

    Thanks everyone for your questions. I have to run to a meeting so I apologize for not being able to answer to everyone and all the questions.
    Aldin A @Aldin you won the Egnyte account!!! Let us know who to reach out to you.
    Have all a great day and thank you so much for your interest.

  • JS

    Joerg Strotmann

    over 2 years ago #

    As a result of the rapid development in smartphone usage and the mobile mind shift, Online-to-offline naturally blossoms and becomes an item on the agenda of many traditional retailers. Recently, many leaders in the mobile app space have diversified their portfolio by developing location-based intelligence to add further momentum to the retail landscape. A strategy referred to as location-intelligence or attribution strategy.

    Examples of such applications are:
    •Google “Near me micro-moments”
    •Foursquare “Attribution”

    While local retailers does not want to pay for a click that stays on the Internet e-commerce highway or results in a loss of interest and closing of the webpage, location-based intelligence can close the redemption loop - that is what O2O aims to do.

    The question of how this space will look in the future is not as clear as a simple yes or no answer, however local retailers are willing to pay for a consumer to walk through the door, interact with a sales associate, and make a purchase.

    Do you think a real-world measurement has the potential to disrupt traditional online metrics such as impressions, CTR, engagement and response rates?

    Could real-world measurement become soon the new norm?

    Thanks!!

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 2 years ago #

    Hi Isabelle - it's a privilege to have you here!

    Does Egnyte have a dedicated growth team?
    If yes, how is it structured and why is it that way?
    If not, why not?

  • SR

    shahnur rahman

    about 2 years ago #

    Hi Isabelle ,

    Hope your still watching this!

    Being the chief marketing officer, what was the one marketing mistake you made in the recent years which might have a caused you a big business loss? And how did you recover from it ?

    A real scenario if you would want to share?

    Cheers,
    Sayed

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