BusinessCloud9 is coming up for its first anniversary around now. At Sift Media, we produce a series of community-centric online publications that address various markets, such as CRM/Customer Management with MyCustomer.com; Accountancy with AccountingWeb; finance directors with FinanceWeek; HR people with HRZone and so on. It's a vast readership base that isn't always recognised but which has massive cross-sell potential for the PR community.
It became very apparent - particularly on MyCustomer.com - that Cloud Computing was becoming a major transformational force, a paradigm shift if you will in the way that organisations tap into and pay for their computing resources. It was also notable that the early adopters of Cloud business applications came from CRM, HR and finance/accounting communities - exactly our demographic. We were sitting on top of something potentially very big.
So BusinessCloud9 starts from the premise of mapping onto our existing communities and providing a dedicated community of its own to Cloud Computing. That was an initial differentiator - we already had the main end user constituencies for Cloud applications reading our existing communities, a ready made audience that wanted to and needed to know more about the Cloud. From that base, we then reach out other aspects of the market, such as infrastructure, networks, consulting, security, systems integration and so on.
We aim to be the gathering point for all things Cloud and to provide a dialogue between C-level execs from the CEO and CFO through to the COO and CIO with line of business people coming along for the ride. There's a hell of a lot of hype and flim flam around about Cloud Computing which can make it very confusing. But it's also an item that has to be on the corporate and the IT agenda at all organisations. Even if you're not ready for the move to Cloud Computing yet, you need to be evaluating its potential.
I edit the site and drive its overall directions. We have freelance contributions from experienced IT industry journalists such as Martin Banks and Chris Middleton as well as tapping into our in-house editorial team at Sift Media across the various communities. We also accept contributed opinion pieces from readers and from vendors.
The response from readers and the Cloud industry has been fantastically supportive to date. On 2nd December, we're running a one day Cloud Computing conference in London - Business Cloud Summit 09 (www.businesscloud9.com/summit) - which has a line up of speakers, both end users and industry thought leaders, that I could only imagine when we started work on the event. The idea that one year on from the inception of the site that we'd be playing host to a line up of the leading Cloud Computing thinkers and doers seemed like a pipe dream this time 12 months ago - but it's all come together and we're delighted by the response we've had. More to come on that front in 2010.
I'm very keen to have a solid business relationship with PR and marketing people, one that operates as a two way street. We want to engage with the Cloud industry and we're very open to pitches for contributed material/opinion pieces. That said, we do need you to pitch the idea rather than send me a finished article without running the topic by us first. We also reserve the right not to run anything that is just a heavy handed sales pitch. This is an evolving market and we have fantastic relationships with the high profile thought leaders in it, but we're always looking to help foster some more original thinkers.
Equally we're seeing a whole new breed of Cloud companies coming along and we want to be covering the leaders of tomorrow, so you need to tell us about them today. The best way of getting attention is a short, concise email BRIEFLY outlining the Cloud pitch to us with as much supporting collateral (white papers, case studies, whatever) attached as you have. Please don't chase me up too often after that. It's a big industry out there and we do need to prioritise. But I promise that we do read such pitches and give them consideration. One of the things I want to do is to spot the next Google or Salesforce.com and make sure that BusinessCloud9 is on top of our field.
For opinion pieces, make the sharp and sassy, don't be afraid to be controversial and pursue a simple line of clear thought. We're an online publication. Don't try to get 10 great ideas into one piece; pitch me a series of ten. Two things to avoid if you are pitching an opinion piece at us.. Firstly, don't tell me that 2010 will be the year of the Cloud. Been there, done that in 2008 and 2009. Secondly, please don't call your client's opinion piece "Head in the Clouds" - no, really really don't.
Do you Twitter? Why, why not?
I do twitter via the businesscloud9 feed. I'm not a personal twitterer or a blogger outside of work. People don't need to know when I'm popping down the shops or sitting on a bus or whatever. I limit myself to Facebook postings to a closed group of friends.
What interests you most about your job?
This past year has been very busy with the new site and with the conference. I've also done more press trips around Cloud Computing than I have for a long time, recession or no recession. So I'd say that the site has demanded my interest and got it. Next year the main interest will be…ah well, wait and see!
It's also good being in at the start of an interesting new phase of computing. When I started as a journalist, it was the beginning of the wars between the relational database vendors which was good fun to track. Then I spent a long time watching the CRM battles take place. That's morphed into the Cloud Computing game. I've had (and have) fantastic access to some fascinating people over the years and some genuinely interesting influencers and thought leaders, from Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy through Tom Siebel and Ray Lane to the likes of Marc Benioff, Zach Nelson and Lars Dalgaard today - people who are never knowingly uninteresting!
I'd like to have a go at…
If I'd like to have a go at something, I tend to do it. So no real unfulfilled ambitions I think of there.
If you could time travel what time would you go to?
I wouldn't care - I just want a trip in the Tardis! I'm a mighty Dr Who fan - one of those who kept the faith during the dark years when it was off the air and felt vindicated when the UK public fell back in love with it in recent years. It's great that in 2009 you can be out and proud as a Dr Who fan. I'm too late for a trip with David Tennant, but if Matt Smith fancies parking the blue box outside my house, I'm up for it.
About you and freelance journalists:
I tend to use freelancers who I've previously worked with and who I know I can trust to deliver the goods and who know their onions. That said, anyone who wants to submit ideas, pitches etc is very welcome to do so.