Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote a four-part blog posting a few weeks ago describing Sun's overall business model and how it makes money from open source. The basic idea is to go from adoption to innovation and then commercialization. It's a pretty high-level description, and some readers might have been left wondering exactly how those steps are linked.
That's what I've been working on for the last several months as I took on a new role inside of Sun to run a group called Lifecycle Marketing. The name Lifecycle Marketing is uncommon, but it refers to accelerating each stage of the customer purchase process. In other words, take the notion of going from software downloads toward commercialization with actions and automation that make each step more efficient.
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My goal is to take best practices from MySQL, Sun, and elsewhere in the industry and fill the sales pipeline for all of Sun's products. There's a large class of products that can benefit from the high-volume/low-touch lead generation, nurturing, and scoring approach that we built at MySQL. One of the goals I set for the team was to increase the "top of funnel" inquiry or raw lead volume for sales. While Sun has lots of Web traffic and tens of thousands of downloads per day, we aren't necessarily giving prospects the opportunity to put up their hand and say "I'm interested, tell me more." This is an important linkage between adoption and commercialization. Our open source users represent a hidden installed base to whom we can offer software subscriptions, servers, storage, training, or consulting. The key is in identifying people's interests through marketing and analytics. We don't expect to monetize every user, but that's OK. In many cases, we're receiving tremendous value through their contributions, ideas, bug fixes, or word-of-mouth promotion.