Research Report: Inside Constellation's 2020 Enterprise Awards

By The Constellation Research Team

The 2020 Awards Demonstrate The Power Of Humanity Amidst A Global Pandemic And Mass Digitization

What started out as an amazing beginning to a new decade ended with one of the worst economies and global health crises in history.  Cultural, technological, and business model changes that would have taken a decade to play out became reality in less than 6 months.   Almost every brand and enterprise had to rethink their business model AND their monetization model.  Every senior executive could see their pre-pandemic business model shift to a rapid pandemic response and slowly emerge into a post pandemic reality.

Instead of attending over 300 physical events, we attended 500 virtual events including our own CCE 2020.  In addition, the Constellation Research team accelerated their digital presence with more videos, virtual keynotes, and digital experiences in 2020.   In anticipation of the planning needed to emerge from the pandemic, Constellation's analysts worked hard to bring together a post-pandemic playbook.  Along the way, Constellation's team has been busy with clients addressing the shift to remote work, contactless commerce, digital business models, accelerated cloud adoption, digital CX, beefed up cybersecurity, health and mental health priorities, and digital first mindsets. 

These collective experiences and interaction with forward thinking buy-side executives and responses from innovative vendors, guided the team's view of this year's 2020 winners.  The research team watched technology vendors shift their go to market strategies, provide some leniency to clients unable to make ends meet, and craft new strategies to help clients with the rapidly changing landscape.   Fear and a burning platform accelerated a generational adoption of key technologies in one full swoop.  New solutions were rolled out in days, not weeks or months to customers by vendors.  Solutions were adopted in hours not weeks by customers.  There had never been a greater sense of urgency for change. 

While this year has been tragic for many, the improvements and acceleration of technology adoption will play a huge role in paving the way for the autonomous and AI driven decade ahead.  Many of the technology vendors and providers who made this possible have been named to this year's Constellation Enterprise Awards.   Thanks to the hard work of our research team who put in double duty to get this out in time!

Catch the run down on Constellation TV Episode 002

20201209 ConstellationTV Episode 002 from Constellation Research on Vimeo.

This video is about 20201209 ConstellationTV Episode 002

And now, the winners for 2020...

R "Ray" Wang

Founder and Principal Analyst

BEST ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE STARTUP 

This category recognizes when an enterprise software startup achieved escape velocity in mind share and relevance.

WINNER: Celonis

Why did they win?

After years of beating the drum on process mining powering the future of enterprise software and why process mining is more advanced than their robotic process automation (RPA) bretheren, Celonis has finally gained critical mind share beyond the business and technology early adopters of Airbus, GM, and Vodafone.  After raising a whopping $290M in Series C funding in November of 2019, the mainstream messaging shift to address execution capacity inside enterprises finally makes sense amidst a pandemic as every enterprise seeks to find automation opportunities.  Celonis has shown the Global 2000 their ability to improve execution capacity by creating more capacity with existing infrastructure with its Execution Management System and almost every industry's top customers have become a client or are in the process of implementing Celonis.

RUNNERS UP

Why were they recognized?

Yellowbrick

Despite the push to the cloud, there’s still a place for a high-performance/low-cost data warehouse/mart option that can be deployed and managed on-premises or private-cloud style. There's a sweet spot for customers who have high-scale but stable (non-elastic) workloads, data-location restrictions and a need for high performance and predictable costs. It’s a market niche that was opened up 15 years ago by the likes of Greenplum and Netezza and Yellowbrick has a focused strategy and modern platform to pursue a market that hasn’t gone away. In keeping with today’s cloud expectations, Yellowbrick is subscription based and a managed query service can be tapped within a customer’s VPC running on a public cloud.

Gong.io

Serial startup rock star Amit Bendov of Sisense (CEO) and Panaya (CMO) fame created a category known as revenue intelligence with Gong.io. The company just closed a Series D round of funding this year (who knew that was a thing?!), prompting us to wonder at what point a startup stops being a startup and goes mainstream. By facilitating customer interactions, understanding deals, and shifting go to market approaches, Gong helps revenue teams improve growth. Data-driven recommendations, up-to-the-minute deal/sales pipeline visibility, team collaboration and personalized coaching are changing how sellers work. This cloud-based sales performance platform is gaining ground among the tech companies and also high growth companies.

BEST ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE VENDOR 

This category recognizes the enterprise software vendor who improved their customer relevance, market share, customer satisfaction, and brand standing.

WINNER: Smartsheet

Why did they win?

Though many tech companies scrambled to get out ahead of the pandemic, few did so with as much verve and aplomb as work coordination vendor, Smartsheet. Not only is their COVID-19 resource center one of the best in the business,  their product category is arguably one of the most useful there is for organizing a mass response to a global pandemic. But it didn't end there, Smartsheet's standout achievement in 2020 was helping the Department of Commerce survive the onslaught of millions of U.S. firms suddenly trying to clarify their status as essential businesses, where they helped replace the DoC's home page with a Smartsheet quick response form after the agency's email servers went down and stayed down. This helped countless U.S. organizations to obtain critically needed information and helped many of them to stay in business

RUNNERS UP

Why were they recognized?

Microsoft

Microsoft has made some pretty big shifts and investments in 2020, but what stood out most were the intentional investments across the key systems that quickly and safely turned work into customer engagements. Take Microsoft's security portfolio that offers customers a unified and impressively comprehensive end-to-end security posture from network to end points and even future forward headless points at the edge. With streamlined and simplified solutions, Microsoft is intentionally bringing together a portfolio that doesn't add to the chaos and complexity taking over security operations. They are very focused on how security and IT teams are working...and Microsoft is striving to deliver tools to make all that work more transparent, collaborative and easy.

In addition, Microsoft is making very similar moves across the Dynamics 365 Marketing portfolio where they have been smart to walk away from some suites (social media as an example) to really focus on the job of marketing and allowing an open marketplace to plug in specialized tools into their engagement platform. This isn't the Microsoft of old where users needed to adapt to succeed. Today, citizen developers are embraced while open source code is celebrated...but more than ever tools are aligning to how people work and how teams want to drive growth and success.

BEST ENTERPRISE SERVICES VENDOR

This category recognizes the enterprise services vendor that transforms delivery models and crafts new client-centric market approaches.

WINNER: Infosys

Why did they win?

Despite the critics who have predicted Infosys' downfall in recent years, 2020 has emerged as a year of rebirth for the venerable bellwether IT services company.  With two years into his CEO tenure as of January 2020, Salil Parekh has brought his sales skills to the table and rekindled relationships, partnerships, and attracted an enviable pool of talent while Nandan (one of the legendary co-founders) has been in the background guiding technology innovation.  The offering launch of Live Enterprise and Wingspan have been game changers in the market for bringing productized IP that address a wide range of business needs from the remote workforce to artificial intelligence. 

A strategic focus on winning large deals, precisely cutting costs, acquiring new practices, and refreshing talent have led to big wins and renewals include a $1.3B Daimler deal, Rolls Royce partnership, the acquisition of GuideVision for ServiceNow skills, and pay increases for January 2021.  As with other leading IT services firms, Infosys has also succeeded in addressing compressed digital transformation by staffing up for  accelerated cloud adoption, digital commerce, cyber security, automation and AI.  The result - faster profit growth, higher quality revenue, improving position among IT services vendor, and a stock price that's come back with a roar!

RUNNERS UP

Why were they recognized?

Accenture

Last year's winner for best Enterprise Services Vendor remains the benchmark competitor to beat across the IT Services landscape.  Impressive large account wins, quarterly earnings beats throughout the pandemic, and a flurry of acquisitions and partnerships had competitors in reactive mode.  The global reorganization to a regional model has some competitors playing "me too", while others are doubling down on industries instead. 

Despite many high profile managing director departures, thought leadership remains high and clients have not left.  Accenture is a formidable competitor and may have gotten stronger during the pandemic. Accenture is also at the forefront at establishing best practices on how to implement enterprise software during a pandemic, establishing them internally first, as show with the recent go live with Workday HCM on a global level and 800k+ FTE. 

BEST TECH ACQUISITION 

This category recognizes the enterprise tech acquisition that has the most impact for customers, market landscape, and the overall industry direction.

WINNER: ServiceNow + AI Targets

Why did they win?

ServiceNow buys into an AI-first future.  ServiceNow wants to simplify work for everyone, and it knows that AI will be the key to automating workflows touching customers, employees and IT. To build out world-class AI capabilities, ServiceNow has pushed through four AI acquisitions in 2020: Element AI, Loom Systems, Passage AI, and Sweagle. In the process it has not only picked up cutting-edge AI tech, it's tapping the minds of world-class AI talent, including Element AI Co‑founder and Lead Fellow, Dr. Yoshua Bengio, a winner of the 2018 ACM A.M. Turing Award, who will serve as a technical advisor. ServiceNow is also establishing an AI Innovation Hub in Canada to tap that country's rich trove of AI expertise. In short, ServiceNow is preparing to serve up the next generation of enterprise work tech powered by AI.

RUNNERS UP

Why were they recognized?

Nvidia acquires ARM for $40B

The transformation from the graphic card to AI to multiple CPU architecture player is bold and in progress.  Rarely high tech vendor manage to add additional revenue streams and get the proverbial additional legs - Nvidia has managed to do that - not only taking advantage of the graphic card to vector based ML implicit innovation move, but is now making a bold move to all other CPU architectures beyond the GPU with the ARM acquisition. 2020 has also shown how the strength of the Nvidia AI platform and brand, coupled with the desire of enterprises not to get locked in for their AI projects, leading to all  major public cloud vendors (AWS, Azure and Google Cloud) offering Nvidia chip architectures in their respective clouds. 

Adobe acquires Workfront for $1.5B 

 

As acquisitions go, this might not be big and splashy, but Adobe's acquisition of Workfront is an important pickup as Adobe continues down the path of connecting the workflows that connect creativity with customers. No longer happy to just be the creative or marketing cloud, Adobe's recent sites have been on developing an engagement system that applies data and intelligence to enhance every segment of the value chain. This move starts to address the internal silo walls that disrupt marketing operations and helps bridge the gap in planning, understanding and optimizing the entire lifecycle of digital experience from inception to optimization. There is no question that marketing and creative need to move fast to stay ahead of their customer's expectations of engagement...and the right tools can help tackle the stagnation of decision making and banish the lag between ideation and iteration. With this acquisition, Adobe is betting that this brings them closer to being that right tool that quickly drives growth. (Liz)

Microsoft acquires CyberX for Security

Microsoft's acquisition of CyberX wasn't just a pick up of a pretty solid IoT security solution. It filled a noted gap in Microsoft's Azure IoT security offering by adding discoverability across new and existing headless device deployments. While the Azure Defender IoT solution had some good monitoring and updating capacity, it failed to provide a more comprehensive visibility across deployments and often failed in discovery of devices. Updates still required recall, which for most Industrial IoT settings is a non-starter in solutions. More than anything, this pick up falls in line with what has been a year of plugging holes and filling in gaps across Microsoft's security portfolio. From infrastructure to headless endpoints and all of the hybrid combinations and expanding human vulnerabilities in between, Microsoft is building a platform to be reckoned with.

Twilio acquires Segment for $3.2B

It's not all that big, it's not all that splashy, but the really big implications of this acquisition are that we'll see a significant alternative to "traditional" CRM systems to manage customer data and customer interactions. Between Twilio and Segment, the joint company has both the ability to dynamically resolve customer identities AND use that information to feed a wide range of customer interactions across channels and contexts. In terms of the core tech stack required to deliver on the customer-centric vision, this has the potential for huge ripple effects throughout the industry. As companies ask some fundamental questions about what operation capabilities they really need, and what level investment they need in tools to support them, this alternative approach is likely to gain a big following.

Koch buying Infor 

When was the last time a non software company invested in a Top 5 category player?  In an unprecedented move, Koch took complete ownership of Infor. What looked like an investment protection move, to own a piece of the ERP vendor that Koch was implementing, has now come a full-on investment by the conglomerate vendor. And there is nothing from with this, give that the returns of enterprise software are attractive to most industries. In the past lateral investments have not produced the expected results (close to now Infor owned Baan went through this experiment with manufacturing power house Invensys). But Koch is staying out of the software business and limiting itself to financial supervision. Will 2021 see more enterprises looking for better returns of investment with acquisition of enterprise software players?

Accenture went on a security buying spree in 2020

Accenture didn't just acquire one security solution in 2020...they picked up three in a buying spree that brought new managed security services, critical infrastructure consulting, testing and simulation services, and specialized consulting services for the financial services market. Perhaps most notable of the acquisitions was the January pickup of Symantec Cyber Security Services from Broadcom, which brought Symantec's global threat monitoring and analysis, real-time adversary and industry-specific threat intelligence and incident response services along with six global security operations centers. When combined with the $1.2 billion across 33 acquisitions made in 2019, Accenture is positioned to be one of the most formidable managed security service providers around.

Kronos and Ultimate Software merge

Owned by the same PE firm, two long standing HCM vendors were told to merge into what is now UKG, a larger and more competitive vendor in the US and with deeper pockets to grow abroad. Kronos' given leadership within workforce management coupled with Ultimate's HR and payroll expertise are a powerful combination that needs to get amalgamated carefully, but can deliver a challenge to the larger established vendors in the next year.  

WORST TECH ACQUISITION

This category recognizes the enterprise tech acquisition that had the least impact for customers, market landscape, and the overall industry direction.

WINNER: TikTok still not acquired

TikTok

Also known as (A.K.A.)  "The Acquisition that Wasn't. These folks managed to drum up a lot of noise for quite a few companies but ultimately faded into the background. No doubt Oracle and Walmart will make whatever hay they can, but we're not expecting this one to amount to much. 

RUNNERS UP

Why were they recognized?

Verizon acquires BlueJeans for $500M

 

So, when Verizon said they were buying BlueJeans for half a billion to solve a hole in short term video conferencing for Covid-19, many tech watchers groaned.  When they tried to spin the 5G story around how Verizon Business could cross sell the solution for telemedicine and online learning almost all the technology watchers barfed.  Despite BlueJeans bringing in 15,000 enterprise customers and raising $175M since 2009, the solution has been antiquated, technologically inferior, and easily replaced by a highly subsidized Microsoft Teams and a worth-paying-for Zoom.  Are teleco's this badly managed that they don't know how to rebadge a leading video conferencing solution or build on an open source solution like 8x8 Jitsi or Twillio?  This acquisition fails the sniff test on a technical, commercial, or acqui-hire level. 

Salesforce acquires Slack for $27.7B

Another acquisition with no likely chance to ever get a payback. Timing was also not at the best as with Slack having lost a of potential and market share vs Microsoft Team - the prices for Slack could reasonably be expected to be lower in 2021 and 2022 than in 2020. And while there is a chance to redefine CRM processes and employee processes with IM, the possibility of Salesforce competitors to imitate that with the more popular Microsoft Teams has a very low barrier of realization. So - cui bono? Salesforce certainly will be able to add platform revenue in 2021 from Slack, and platform has become the #1 revenue segment for Salesforce. There is also ample cross-sell for Salesforce to sell Slack into the install base. 2021 will tell how not so bad acquisition this will have been.

However, when the acquisition is evaluated in terms of building a business graph, Slack makes a lot of sense, despite the high price tag. The future of enterprise software is AI driven and AI driven software needs a business graph.  Slack gives Salesforce the ability to create digital feedback loops and context among business processes, objects, users, and data.  Why is this important?  The next battle in enterprise software will be the creation of business graphs.  Like social graphs which use social networks to provide signal intelligence and digital feedback loops to accumulate massive amounts of data that is mined by AI, business graphs will accomplish the same for enterprises. In the case of the enterprise, the relationships among users, documents, business processes, and contextual data will power the signal intelligence and digital feedback loops.  As the majority of data is collected by digital feedback loops via automated and ambient collection, these systems can improve their precision decision capabilities. Automation and AI are the tools that bring scale to creating decision velocity.

Pitching this acquisition to the street as a work from home, remote work winner makes no financial sense. As a key part of the future of Salesforce's platform, this acquisition makes a ton of sense.  Constellation just doesn't see a near-term financial payback despite the high price of Salesforce stock and thus, one of the worst tech acquisitions of 2020.

BEST PARTNERSHIP

This category recognizes the enterprise partnership that delivered the most impact for customers and the market.

WINNER: Modern Computing Alliance

Why did they win?

As AWS and Azure threatened to take the lion's share of the cloud business in a growing winner-takes-all sweep in 2020, the MCA has brought together top cloud platforms and solution vendors in a Google-led industry-leading alliance that will allow them to be stronger together than any individual vendor could be against the current leaders. The goal: to better connect with today's IT audience, to listen and be more responsive to their needs, to address top concerns about performance, security, identity, remote work, and interestingly, the healthcare vertical, in order to build a cloud buyer community long-term that will enable the alliance to keep IT stakeholders closer to them. The MCA can help them sustain themselves against the top two cloud behemoths to create a richer and more appealing set of offerings than any single cloud vendor ever could.

RUNNERS UP

Why were they recognized?

Salesforce and Okta Partner for Work.com

We are never "really" surprised when former Salesforce execs partner with current Salesforce execs, but in this case, it was a partnership worth forging. Still in early days (the partnership was announced in October), the combined effort is intended to add to the Work.com portfolio of tools, template and solutions to get businesses of any size or industry back to work safely and securely. The partnership with Okta adds Identity access and the capacity for employees to sign-in to Work.com with a single click by leveraging their existing identity providers or corporate directories such as Active Directory. The move also helps organizations with contact tracing in a post-pandemic workplace securely and responsibly connecting key employee data with contact tracing that help organizations navigate COVID-19 realities and requirements. The partnership has clear wins for Okta with easy integrations into work.com and Salesforce in a time when more firms are looking to easily onboard multi-factor authentication and identity management solutions. For Salesforce, it adds to the messaging around trust...while also leveling up their game against rival ServiceNow. 

It's been a bad year for innovative partnerships in general.

As vendor continue to battle for market share, implementation resources, and customer success, most of the partnerships announced this year were transactional and lacked a strategic vision.  With Covid-19 hampering in-person business development at events, few new partnership announcements showed a vision as with the IBM-Maersk - TradeLens blockchain partnerships last year.  For that reason, the team decided not to name any additional runner ups.  Sorry, BD teams, you need to do better!

BEST CEO 

This category recognizes the best enterprise CEO. Enough said.

WINNER: Sridhar Vembu - Zoho

Why did he win?

There has been an awful lot of talk among many technology companies about how they're helping customers and employees through the pandemic, but Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu has shown genuine leadership and a well-considered approach. He's stuck to his values in several key areas including privacy, people over profits and rural/under-served talent empowerment. All of this was kitschy and "admirable" in a pre-pandemic conversation, but now seems down-right visionary.

When the pandemic hit, Zoho was really early out the gate with resources for remote work, programs for subscription relief and forgiveness focused on hard-hit small businesses and investments to help small businesses get thru the worst of the economic hit of the pandemic. His commitment to rural work forces decoupled from a large "wealth-centered HQ" was ahead of the curve, shifting their corporate HQ to Austin before it was the cool thing to do in response to a "Bay Area exodus". That's in addition to the corporate mandate that a college degree is not required to work at Zoho since talent should not be tethered to privilege.

All of the things people are so quick to celebrate from the likes of Benioff, Cook, Musk, et al., Vembu has been doing for a while...and then he doubled down in a pandemic. 

RUNNERS UP

Why were they recognized?

Frank Slootman - Snowflake

Frank Slootman spearheaded the biggest and most buzz-generating enterprise tech IPO of 2020 by sharing a much bigger vision than delivering yet another database service. As articulated by Slootman, the Snowflake Data Cloud is about about mobilizing data, sharing it within a broader network to drive new business opportunities, and "driving operations instead of just informing people." Well done! 

Eric Yuan - Zoom

When a company's name has gone from noun to verb, they have arrived.  Eric Yuan had spend years building a low cost, high quality, easy to use video platform.  Corporate giants Google, Microsoft, Cisco, and Apple all had existing solutions, yet Zoom prevailed going from 10 million monthly active users to 300 million active users with barely a hiccup in three months. 

As his success rose, he faced security flaws, a social phenomenon of Zoom burnout, and an accusation of widening the digital divide.  Yuan persevered by addressing the security concerns with transparency and the creation of a rock star security team starting with help from Alex Stamos and the addition of Jason Lee as CISO.  What makes Eric a top CEO in 2020? He was flexible, intuitive, passionate, and humble in the midst of rapid growth and a pandemic.  He showed grit and perseverance in building Zoom and going public as a profitable and debt free company.  And to top it off, the stock is up more than 510% year over year

BEST NEW ENTERPRISE CATEGORY 

This category recognizes the best new enterprise category that made an impact to the market.

WINNER: Enterprise Low Code

Why did they win?

This became a real and vital category in 2020 as CIOs needed to suddenly field new solutions to urgent disruptions to their business. While low code is an increasingly large and generic grab bag marketing term for almost any solution that can be used to create a working solution through some sort of configuration, a number of vendors at the top end are focusing specifically at the enterprise space.

These solutions include off-the-shelf integrations for popular enterprise application suites, manageability features for the large number of resulting apps, as well as security, version, and lifecycle controls. These solutions provide an entire stack that provides features to enable IT to provide their stakeholders greater choice, enable more self-service, tap more widely into corporate innovation, and unleash decentralized development, all without shooting themselves in the foot with skyrocketing maintenance baggage and security headaches.

RUNNERS UP

Intelligent Orchestration

Vendors in multiple categories - Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS), ML/AI, robotic process automation (RPA), workflow and more - recognize that a convergence is ahead among categories that will help organizations integrate, optimize and automate processes for efficiency and breakthrough customer experience. Constellation Research is championing "Intelligent Orchestration" as a future tech category that span old silos of integration, automation and data-driven action. 

"Customer Service Gig Platforms": There's one leader in this game so far, Simplr, a subsidiary of insurance company Asurion. They've pioneered a text-based, pay-per-resolution approach to customer service that allows businesses to flex resources as needed and highly educated "experts" to act as agents for multiple companies even in the same work session. It's early days, but we expect to see much more of this approach in the near future.

The Post Pandemic World Best Practice Package

As enterprises struggle with the post pandemic world., vendors have moved fast to help enterprises with managing the 'new normal'. It is no surprise that low code / no code vendors where the first out of the gate, showing the developer velocity of their platforms - no only for customers but also for themselves.

The 'Covid19' package is also a chance of the segment to establish itself beyond the PaaS category with some SaaS Forays. Needless to say, HCM vendors were most active next, providing payroll and workforce management capabilities for safe operation and re-openings. Tracking applications saw also high demand, with lateral vendors like Salesforce offering this through its new work.com offering or even SAP being asked to provide the Covid tracking app in Germany. 

BEST NEW IPO

WINNER: Snowflake

Why did they win?

The most noteworthy enterprise tech IPO of 2020, hands down, was Snowflake. Who knew the valuation of this data warehousing service would surpass that of IBM and AMD? Snowflake achieved this milestone when its market value reached $120 billion in December, less than three months after its IPO. That's a heady valuation given that Snowflake is forecasting $538 to $543 million in revenue for its fiscal year ending January 31, 2021.

Snowflake execs would counter that the company is not just a database-as-a-service provider. They stress the ability to "mobilize your data" using the Snowflake Data Cloud to share and deliver data and insights using services-oriented approaches. That helps customers "drive operations instead of just informing people," according to Snowflake. That's an evolution in the use of data and analytics that Constellation has long espoused, going from data to decisions rather than stopping and insights. Snowflake is also a good reminder, that taken proven concepts (here the data warehouse) to the public cloud has enormous growth and success potential. 

RUNNERS UP

C3.AI

The odyssey of C3.AI came to a public offerings, after starting out in utility billing, transforming to IoT and then to PaaS / AI. Its the 2nd IPO for legendary CRM figure Tom Siebel, how shows that he can grow and take a company public in the PaaS space. C3.AI has a unique pattern based architecture that starts from the analytics and builds back to the transactional applications. This allows for unique opportunities with customers pursuing digital transformation. 

BEST NEW ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE MARKETING OF THE YEAR 

This category showcases the best marketing campaign, ad, or perception transformation in the enterprise.

WINNER: ServiceNow 

Why did they win?

"Chief Holiday Officer, Let's Workflow It"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqQRokPX654

Without question, ServiceNow has been knocking it out of the advertising park, most recently with the Christmas themed "Let's Workflow It" campaign featuring the "Chief Holiday Officer" of the North Pole leveraging workflows to exceed performance expectations..and even get in a little swipe at 2020. Check out the inspired ad campaign here: "Chief Holiday Officer, Let's Workflow It" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqQRokPX654 This isn't the first brand salvo ServiceNow has launched in the year, kicking off 2020 with a brand campaign around hard-working Derek and a confetti cannon. Derek and the team have been thru a lot this year and ServiceNow's advertising has kept us up to speed from working from home to gearing up to go back to the office safely.

But ServiceNow didn't win this category for their advertising...the "Better Way to Workflow" campaign and the most recent "Let's Workflow It" campaign represents a far more layered and comprehensive marketing approach. They have picked up their content game...a recent Forbes piece on work-flowing your way to a stress free Thanksgiving is a nice example. They are ramping up their social buzz and content marketing. Their content syndication and demand generation is also on point, teasing back to the big brand plays, but backing that up with business use cases and technical specifications the IT set knows and demands. While their work with BBDO has been creative, engaging and hysterical,  thankfully, ServiceNow isn't just relying on the big brand advertising route. They are leaning into their new brand voice and vision and turning new heads, which can likely be seen in their 2020 performance numbers.

 

RUNNERS UP

Why were they recognized?

Google Cloud

"Take Me Out To The Ball Game"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DjfF7Amr80

Part of the allure to the public cloud wars is the message battles among Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.   While these ads don't often influence direct buying decisions in the B2B world, they do help raise brand awareness to some extent, especially when third in a three-horse public cloud race.  To celebrate Google Cloud's win with Major League Baseball (MLB) over a rival, Google Cloud and the MLB put out an ad that not only highlighted summer and America's past time, but also reminded buyers that MLB chose Google Cloud over their competitors for Anthos, innovation, and personalized experiences.

IBM Cloud

"The World Loves A Hybrid"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pOaOnP9Ns0

To make the point of the hybrid loud, the IBM team took to the airwaves and broke down the enterprise trend into simple consumer examples from a labradoodle and cronut to a skort.  Somehow they figured out how to tie this to hybrid cloud infrastructure and Watson A.I. to talk about getting to cloud modernization having to rebuild from scratch.  How they delivered was pretty deft.

BEST LIVE-EVENT TO VIRTUAL-EVENT PIVOT

This category showcases the team that adapted and succeeded in their high-touch in-person event to a full on virtual event experience

WINNER: Domo's Domapalooza 2020

Why did they win?

With little more than three week’s notice, as lock downs emerged in March 2020, Domo switched from an in-person event to the virtual Domopalooza. What emerged retained a live-event feel, with a mix of real-time hosting and panel interaction and prerecorded content. This hybrid approach set the pattern for the most engaging virtual tech events of 2020. They knocked it out of the park before all the bigger spenders on virtual events even knew where the park was.  What was more interesting, they had an earthquake 20 minutes before the event began and one slightly after and the presenters didn't even bat an eye.  Domo and their team set the bar for live virtual events for the entire year and Josh James is really rad on skis!

RUNNERS UP

Why were they recognized?

Constellation's Connected Enterprise 2020

Bringing together a high touch, senior executive networking event is not easy in the physical events business, let alone the virtual event paradigm.  So, we nominated ourselves here.  The Constellation team attempted to bring back immersive experiences and networking to virtual events without the boredom of one-way push video keynotes and panels.  From morning coffee and tea tastings to evening chocolate and wine tastings, the event included a variety of shared physical experiences and active networking via the Cosmic Experience platform.  Attendees received the Cosmic Experience Kit, which included executive chotzkis from 22 vendors and the USB powered Constellation travel coffee grinder, brewer, and cup kit along with fuzzy hotel slippers. 

BIGGEST TECH FLOP OF THE YEAR 

This category simultaneously recognizes the highest potential and largest failure in enterprise tech

WINNER: Stagnant, Pre-Recorded Virtual Events

Why did they win?

Do you want fresh fruits and vegetables or the canned alternative? Of course you want fresh, and the same preferences apply to tech events, even if they have to be virtual. We know it's hard to reproduce the buzz and spontaneity that can be catalyzed when gathering thousands of people in a single place, but too many 2020 events had all the appeal of canned peaches in a syrupy sauce of "unprecedented times" excuses. Virtual will continue into 2021, so find a way to mix in live interaction, serendipity and a touch of the unexpected

RUNNERS UP

Why were they recognized?

Community Misfires

Launching a "community" only to realize you launched a LinkedIn Group was an all too frequent flop. There was a real misunderstanding as organizations navigated thru the pandemic on how to leverage social, often misunderstanding the difference between social as a communications tool and social as a community platform. The bigger flops included starting a "community" only to have all engagement and conversation be based around push announcements (product offerings, virtual event notifications, customer success stories) and no opportunity for like minded people to share, have conversations and work out loud with peers.  So now, we've got a lot of branded message boards that include the word community and few actual communities working on tough problems together.

The Bottom Line: Compressed Digital Transformation Dominates 2020 and 2021

At the dawn of 2021, all across the world, compressed digital transformation is accelerating cloud adoption, digital commerce, cyber security, automation and AI. These are key technologies for 2021 and the team will be keeping a close eye on the leaders in these spaces. See you in 12 months, when the Constellation Research Team will be back recapping who the winners and some losers will be for 2021!

Your POV

How has 2020 treated you? Did we miss a top vendor for this year's awards? Anything you'd suggest for 2021?

Add your comments to the blog or reach me via email: R (at) ConstellationR (dot) com or R (at) SoftwareInsider (dot) org. Please let us know if you need help with your AI and Digital Business transformation efforts. Here’s how we can assist:

  • Developing your digital business strategy
  • Connecting with other pioneers
  • Sharing best practices
  • Vendor selection
  • Implementation partner selection
  • Providing contract negotiations and software licensing support
  • Demystifying software licensing

Reprints can be purchased through Constellation Research, Inc. To request official reprints in PDF format, please contact Sales.

Disclosures

Although we work closely with many mega software vendors, we want you to trust us. For the full disclosure policy,stay tuned for the full client list on the Constellation Research website. * Not responsible for any factual errors or omissions.  However, happy to correct any errors upon email receipt.

Constellation Research recommends that readers consult a stock professional for their investment guidance. Investors should understand the potential conflicts of interest analysts might face. Constellation does not underwrite or own the securities of the companies the analysts cover. Analysts themselves sometimes own stocks in the companies they cover—either directly or indirectly, such as through employee stock-purchase pools in which they and their colleagues participate. As a general matter, investors should not rely solely on an analyst’s recommendation when deciding whether to buy, hold, or sell a stock. Instead, they should also do their own research—such as reading the prospectus for new companies or for public companies, the quarterly and annual reports filed with the SEC—to confirm whether a particular investment is appropriate for them in light of their individual financial circumstances.

Copyright © 2001 – 2020 R Wang and Insider Associates, LLC All rights reserved.

Contact the Sales team to purchase this report on a a la carte basis or join the Constellation Executive Network

Previous PostNews Analysis: Celonis Launches Execution Management System
Next PostEvent Report: The #CES2021 Preview - What's Hot And Useful In The Enterprise