• At Forrester SiriusDecisions Summit 2020, two organizations that exemplify best-in-class portfolio marketing were recognized
  • This blog post follows one winner, Kodak Alaris, as it implemented a new worldwide product launch process
  • Through implementing best practices, Kodak Alaris saw global adoption and tangible results as it brought a new solution to market

The Program of the Year awards are one of the most popular sessions at the Forrester SiriusDecisions Summit each year. It provides a great opportunity for us to share stories about organizations that exceed industry standards — and to show what they do differently.

One of the most common questions we get from our clients is: Can you show me an example of someone who is doing best-in-class work? Driven by conversations with hundreds of organizations, these awards showcase the programs we have chosen across marketing, sales, and product disciplines. This Q&A post lets you hear straight from one of this year’s winners, providing insights and giving you a glimpse into the best practices from Kodak Alaris. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kara Rayburn, portfolio marketing manager, and Cynthia (Cindy) Ras, worldwide marketing communications manager!

Can you tell us a little bit about Kodak Alaris and what you were trying to accomplish?

Kara Rayburn: Kodak Alaris is an information management company, and we provide capture solutions. We sell these solutions worldwide and our sales model is primarily through partners. What we really wanted to solve was a communications issue. With previous product launches, our product management, sales and marketing teams were not all necessarily on the same page with respect to value propositions and go-to-market strategies. What we really wanted to accomplish was to find a way to streamline our go-to-market process and get everyone involved early on to agree to the strategy.

As you were trying to create a new launch strategy — can you talk about how you were able to navigate any obstacles?

Kara:  One of our biggest challenges was trying to bring an agile process into our launch process. We had to deal with both the agile process and bringing to market our traditional hardware and software services that we’ve always done in the past. Getting people to change and embrace a new way of doing things was a big obstacle. We navigated around it by being very clear in what the new process was and also having great tools to support it. We also had a fantastic launch manager in Cindy, who was instrumental in embracing the process and getting others to adopt it. She attended product, marketing, and sales team meetings and ensured there was a two-way flow of communication. She dealt with a lot of “Why do I need to do this?” questions, but she plowed through and was bold in helping people understand the new process and making sure it would work.

Your work clearly included the evolution to an entirely new launch process. Can you share what you leveraged to support this effort?

Cindy Ras: SiriusDecisions offered several templates that were used throughout the process. The Launch Plan-on-a-Page was an instrumental template as were several launch plan examples. My “go to” on many occasions was the SiriusDecisions portal, where great detailed information is available. Kodak Alaris instituted a new agile engineering process for a brand-new scanner platform. The Launch Plan-on-a-Page (LPOP as I call it) provided a bird’s-eye view of the important information and details needed to launch this new product, such as what product is, sales goals, competition, features highlights, and other important product information. The LPOP was then shared with the appropriate internal go-to-market teams (e.g., sales, product marketing, product development), and buy-in and approval from each was required before finalization. Once finalized, we presented the plan to regional marketing, regional sales, regional product managers and others. We asked the regional marketing teams to put together their plans using the launch plan summary templates. This provided a go-to-market strategy for each region to work toward pre- and post-launch. Goals and objectives were included for measurement purposes along the way. Lessons learned are then discussed for the next launch. This new launch process will continue into our next wave.

One of the key elements in the new launch process was making sure that your regional teams throughout the world were able to successfully adopt it. Can you explain how you were able to manage that?

Kara: One of the best ways that we could do this was to lead by example. Cindy and I are both part of the worldwide marketing team, and we sat down and filled out all of the launch plan template details. This included what our team was responsible for, what deliverables we would provide at each stage, and what our goals were. We were able to hand the launch plan, as well as the Launch Plan-on-a-Page for each of the products, to the regional marketing teams. The regional teams then went to their local product and sales teams to have a conversation and start to fill out the details for what was needed at the local level. This was something that we hadn’t done before, and certainly not this early in the launch process. By giving the regional marketing teams the tools they needed — and by completing information ourselves to show them the way — we accelerated the adoption.

This is all still pretty new for Kodak Alaris, but what kind of results have you seen so far?

Kara: There are several results that we are tracking. We wanted to look at things like website traffic, revenue targets and also new partner conversations. We doubled the website traffic compared to previous launches and that came from a few things — certainly what we put on the site about the offerings and drove traffic to, but also there were some awards that we received. This was possible because our PR team was ready to go, and it worked with our regional PR teams to get the word out to the market. We exceeded our revenue target by 75%, and this was largely because we were able to get the new solution ramped up quickly, with tools and training ready for our sales team. People understood what the product offering was BEFORE launching into the market, so we were able to capture the revenue much earlier on. As I mentioned, we sell through partners so it’s incredibly important to get them on board as fast as possible. Much of the pre-launch work focused on enabling partners. We were able to get 400% more conversations with partners than we ever had in the past. This is especially significant when considering this was a brand-new solution that had never been in market before.

Were there any magic, or “aha,” moments that occurred as you went about creating this new launch process?

Kara: I remember sitting in Summit 2019 last year, and I was pretty skeptical looking at all of the models and tools. I was so focused on the output, what we were launching, who was going to do things, and what the launch date was. But I wasn’t really focused on how to get there and all of the things needed up front to consider to make it the most effective. I also knew how hard it was going to be to make the change internally, to get our product management team and everyone else to think differently and do things differently. But my “aha” moment was really once we had the Launch Plan-on-a-Page and the documents done, we had all of the regions present back to us. They leveraged the materials we had provided and were able to communicate their localized plans on the basis of the collaboration with product and sales teams. I was looking at all the material and thinking “wow, this is so much better than our last launch.” I now realized how important that upfront work is, as well as having a way to drive standards and consistency across the organization to get the results you want.

Cindy: My “aha” moment was seeing it all come together at launch and after. Watching the regional teams “catch” the assets that we created, implement them based on their launch plan, and adapt and leverage each for various regional tools based on their go-to-market strategy showed me that the new process was a success. The regional teams worked closely with us along the way so there were no surprises at launch. Receiving accolades and “thank you” notes in writing from the regional teams provided a sense of accomplishment knowing that this new process worked!

What’s next for the launch process at Kodak Alaris?

Kara: We are still building things out — we took some great first steps, especially with communications with our product management and sales teams. We are still working to get closer to them and make sure that we are getting the goals solidified. We are in the middle of a new launch and we are using the tools that we have, including the Launch Plan-on-a-Page, and ensuring we have agreement on goals and objectives. What we really want to focus on with this next launch is to get better at the measurements. We had some basic goals in the first launch effort, but we want to find ways to prove to our leadership that this is a great solution and how well we are launching these products. We are always looking for new tools to help enhance the process. For example, we took the goals and objectives document that we used in the beginning of the launch and we did a post-launch retrospective meeting. Everyone went back to that document and filled out “post-launch” results showing how we did, what we did well, and what we did not do well and could improve upon. These learnings are so critical as we evolve and build out the process further.

Kara and Cindy started with a vision of developing a new launch process, not only to support an agile development process, but also to introduce standards and ensure launch adoption across all regions. Congratulations to Kara, Cindy, and the entire Kodak Alaris team for being selected as a 2020 Portfolio Marketing Program of the Year Winner!

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