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Ci2i Services, Inc. announces comprehensive solutions for “People and Things”

Seattle – April 14, 2014: Ci2i Services Inc., a consulting company servicing the Pacific Northwest, announces the launch of new Services Practices designed to deliver the vision of creating real time communities of people and things.

Ci2i is announcing the formation of the Content Marketing Practice, headed by Brett Greene. The Content Marketing Practice strengthens our customers’ brands by building engaged communities and lead-generation through creative and effective content marketing and social media strategies and execution. The team is happy to announce several successful engagements with innovative companies including AmpTab, Nurego, Killer Infographics and Cupcake Royale.

Ci2i launched the M2M Practice late last year. This team is headed by Gary Schmidt and recently added Steve Berry as VP of Technology. The M2M Practice helps our customers integrate hardware, software and services to provide comprehensive solutions to our customers. Bleeding edge technology coupled with innovative business models have been a huge hit with customers and partners. Bringing the managed service mindset to the M2M business is transformative, and the team is very excited to announce their new carrier and customer partnerships over the next month.

“Ci2i has a history of providing innovative solutions for our customers” said Ajay Sikka, CEO of Ci2i Services, Inc.  “I am ecstatic with the results that we are driving for our customers. The company’s vision of creating real time communities of People and Things is on track to make a significant splash in the market. We continue to be the Business Sherpa’s standing behind our customers”.

Ci2i Services, Inc. has serviced customers for over 10 years in the Seattle area. The company has been on the fastest growing lists from Inc 500/5000 as well as Puget Sound Business Journal, and provides a broad spectrum of consulting engagements from business strategy, product marketing, licensing, analytics and building scalable transaction engines.

The Next “Big Thing”

I have been in the M2M space for over eight years. I have been a customer, worked with mobile carriers and hardware providers to deploy thousands of units. Also, the message from Wall Street over this period has been – M2M is the next big “thing” in technology. So why has M2M not seen this “mass adoption” as predicated by industry experts? Could it be the cost? Could it be the technology? Or could it be that its poorly marketed and sold? I would argue that it’s all-of-the-above.

To further support that position, it’s been so poorly marketed that they had to change the acronym from M2M to IoT or Internet of Things. Here’s the fundamental problem as I see it. You have a clear division between the hardware and network side of the business. Here’s a practical, real-world example; I’m a cell phone network (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile) and I’m trying to sell more airtime for cellphones but my customer now has to go and source/buy a cell phone to use this airtime. I now have to go to a hardware provider and decide what I want. The hardware company has all of these cool looking gadgets and I now have to select the one that meets my needs. So I ask the customer sales agent; what’s the right phone for me? So begins the process of questions:

What do you want to do?
How do you want to use it?
What are you looking to accomplish?
What kind of hardware do you want to communicate with?
What kind of automation or alerts do you want to send?
Where do you want to send them?
And on, and on, and on.

Once you have that piece sorted, now you have to choose a device that will accommodate your requirement. You decide on the hardware and you pay your $800; not bad, you’re done correct? No way! Now it’s time to get nickeled and dimed with accessories.

Do you want a power cord? That will be $20.
Do you want an antenna? That will be $50
Do you want software? That will be $300
Do you want installation? That will be $500
Do you want support? That will be $50/month

Are we a little agitated yet? I know I am and I’m only writing this. To conclude on the hardware side, you had a piece of hardware that you thought was going to cost you $800 but with accessories and install your grad total is: $1,720. Throw in your monthly data plan of $40/month and you’re officially an M2M customer.

So, back to my analogy on cell phones. If the wireless carriers were to make the purchase of cell phones and airtime as complicated as M2M, would we all have one in our pockets today? I think not. I have worked with almost all of the hardware providers in North America as a customer or distributor. They all do what I described above which complicates, at best, the entire process of M2M. This is why we started the M2M division at Ci2i to address this fundamental flaw in this industry. Have one flat payment that includes the hardware and service – turnkey. We have just launched this new practice and we’re having great results with the market approach. Now, the proof is going to be in the sales…

The Resurgence of the Corporate Brand

After two decades of marketers devoting the majority of their creative and fiscal resources to individual products, we see a rapidly growing focus on telling a story at the corporate level. Major companies, whether in B2B or B2C, are stepping up their corporate brand-building.

Procter & Gamble has been the most recent champion of crafting and telling the parent story, beginning with the 2010 Olympics campaign “Proud Sponsor of Moms.” Long content to let its corporate brand be defined by the handful of its powerhouse portfolio of brands like Tide and Pampers, P&G’s positioning of 34 of its brands under its corporate umbrella was a first for the company. It was the company’s biggest corporate campaign ever and the first to run on a global basis.

Beyond P&G, a series of CPG players such as Unilever and SC Johnson have stepped up visibility for their corporate logos, tag lines and messages. Even product-marketing leader Coke has been emphasizing its brand parent story, with a new corporate-wide website that talks about the impact of all its brands, focusing on the values and mission of the entity that binds them together.

However, the shift to messaging the parent company is bigger than consumer goods, and applies across multiple industries. ExxonMobil, Dow, Google, and IBM to name a few — have all upped the messaging on their unifying corporate story. In fact, Kantar Media data shows that corporate advertising dollars grew to 17% in 2012 versus just 3% percent for total ad spending.

The trend applies whether the corporate structure is a “parent” brand like P&G or General Motors; an “asymmetrical” structure like Johnson & Johnson or Bank of America, where the parent shares identity with one of the business units; or a “masterbrand” structure like GE or IBM. Google, an asymmetrical structure, has increased emphasis on messaging the total story as well as increasing the usage of the parent name to better unite its diverse services, for example, changing Froogle to Google Shopping. Microsoft’s new brand identity was crafted to better visually connect its distinct offerings such as Surface, Windows, Bing and others, uniting them as part of a more coherent parent. Masterbrand leaders, too, such as IBM and GE, are also continuing to invest in a single corporate-level story.

Why the new focus? People matter as much as products. In today’s radically transparent business environment, understanding a company’s integrity, values and, most importantly, intentions, matters more than ever. For customers, the purpose of the company can often be as important as the performance of its products. For employees, there is a heightened need for a corporate brand that connects.

Visible in our professional and social spheres as it has never been, what our company stands for can be as important a public signal of who we are as the car in our driveway or the watch on our wrist. For the general population, where information is always at our fingertips, divisions or brands of companies can no longer be easily siloed or shielded. Corporations need to build a reservoir of image goodwill that can serve as a buffer if a crisis arises. And to the investor community, in the age of Jim Cramer and CNBC, a powerful parent brand can send clear signals to an investor base that is increasingly diverse. Indeed, for institutional investors who now search an increasingly broad global playing field for the best investment story, a clear corporate brand direction and set of guideposts is an important signifier.

How to build the corporate brand? The message must:

1. Be owned from the top. Today’s corporate brands are best viewed as a strategic management tool, as opposed to just a corporate communications effort.

2. Be rooted not just in your brand’s unique story, but in the experience you create. A unique experience — one that can be echoed in consumer-generated media — is as important in building the corporate image as the story you convey.

3. Celebrate the parent company’s personality. A great “corporate” brand today is not an institutional brand; it needs an approachable, vital and human voice.

4. Unite your employee base across businesses in a common purpose. Today’s focus needs to be as much internal as external; corporate marketing leaders must team with their HR, communications and business partners to provide them with powerful tools and approaches to capture employee hearts and minds, to inspire them to know and deliver the total company brand story.

The imperative is clear: it’s time, again, to proactively manage your corporate brand, or run the risk of others doing it for you.

[via AdAge]