EBCs Trends

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EBCs Trends

Key Takeaways

  • Companies are restricting their EBC events to only their largest, most profitable clients.
  • EBC events are becoming an integral part of the sales process, particularly for long sales cycle solutions offered by companies in, for example, the technology, aeronautical, and energy industries.
  • Executive briefings are being used to build trust more than simply showcase your products.
  • EBC events are increasingly offered as a virtual event using advanced communication technology.
  • Suppliers are increasingly including client case studies as the highlight of their EBC events.

Introduction

This report provides 5 trends surrounding executive briefing centers (EBCs). The trends include a mix of new developments focused on three areas — high-level business strategy, spatial design, and content strategy.

The report names each trend, explains why it is a trend, and provides at least one example of a company leading each trend.

Trend 1 — Focus on the Largest, Most Profitable Clients

  • Companies are increasingly using their EBCs to focus only on their most valuable clients. They use the centers to host their biggest customers and encourage them to share their most pressing business challenges and goals. In return, the suppliers bring in their key decision makers and expert teams to offer solutions. The goal is, of course, to win the sizable business that these large clients generate.
  • It is a trend because, when EBCs first became a fixture in the business landscape earlier this century, they were used to host both large and small customers, including some that are today considered too small to justify hosting at an EBC event. The potential invitation list has narrowed significantly. Suppliers have learned that their EBC events, including the personnel that contribute to them, are a valuable resource. For this reason, suppliers access to that resource exclusively to their most prized customers.
Mechdyne Corporation
  • Mechdyne Corporation, a leading audio visual and virtual realty technology supplier, believes:" ... our chances of winning the business increases significantly when we ... (use our) ... executive briefing centers ... (in) ... the sales process ... to create customized, personalized experiences for customers."
  • Mechdyne was founded in 1996 by Iowa State University (ISU) graduates after working at ISU’s Virtual Reality Applications Center. Mechdyne’s first project was to create a VR firefighting simulator for the US Navy. The company has expanded its capabilities into non-VR areas and today has 7 business units — AV & VR Solutions, AV Services, IT Services, Software Services, Engineered Display Structures and Custom Manufacturing, and Network Infrastructure. It partners with a global client base, including some of the world’s most recognized organizations. It remains privately owned and of small size, in stark contrast to the behemoth that is Microsoft.
Microsoft Inc.
  • Microsoft views its EBCs as "a valuable resource that we make available exclusively to our most important enterprise customers. We ensure that your briefing is personalized to your unique challenges, enabling us to explore together how technology can be used to enhance your organization’s performance."
  • Akamai describes its Executive Briefing Centers (EBC) as providing it and clients "a unique opportunity for customers to consult our executives on key trends transforming business today."

Trend 2 — Integral Part of the Sales Process

  • Companies are increasingly using their EBCs as an integral step in the sales process because they have found the briefings shorten the sales cycle.
  • This has become a trend over the years as the success of executive briefings in establishing trust and deepening client relationships has become better understood.
  • Mechdyne believes:" ... our chances of winning the business increases significantly when we ... (use our) ... executive briefing centers ... (in) ... the sales process ... to create customized, personalized experiences for customers."
  • Mechdyne stresses that customers who participate in an EBC event "are more likely to buy from you. Not only that ... they buy sooner and they buy more." The privacy of an executive briefing allows a supplier to have meaningful conversations with a client and to discuss confidential matters that a client would feel uncomfortable raising in a more open forum.

Trend 3 — Use EBC Events to Build Trust, More than Showcase Your Products

  • EBC events began mainly as a way for suppliers to provide product demos. Over the years this has expanded to allow them to establish a trust relationship with clients their customers.
Mechdyne
  • Mechdyne explains the trust factor very well: "If your company sells products or services that are worth big dollars, you have to sell your customers on your organization just as much as your product or service. The larger the sales contract is, the more important trust becomes. Without it, the hundreds of thousands—or even millions—of dollars’ worth of investment has too much risk. A custom, tailored experience hosted at your organization is the perfect way to preview what your collaborative relationship will look like. Not only that, but you can showcase your products or services to the customer, allowing them to interact with it in their own customized demo" (emphasis added).
Microsoft
  • For Microsoft, its EBC is a setting where its largest clients "can ask questions, explore IT strategy and build relationships with Microsoft executives and business experts ... Through the executive briefing process, a shared understanding of how Microsoft software and services can contribute to your enterprise’s success is established" (emphasis added).
  • Naturally, EBCs are located at sites where it is convenient for both company and client personnel to attend. Nevertheless, that being said, and in keeping with the idea that EBC events bring clients together with high level company executives and experts, most companies locate their EBCs at major company campuses.
  • This facilitates the attendance of relevant company personnel, recognizing that the number of company personnel attending at least some portion of an EBC event is likely to be many times the number of invited client personnel.
Microsoft
  • Microsoft has 50+ EBCs around the world, 40+ of which are situated within company campuses, or what it calls Microsoft Technology Centers. It also offers some briefings at its Experience Centers and learning Centers.
  • In the US, its main EBC is at its global headquarters at Redmond WA, outside of Seattle, WA — the Redmond Executive Briefing Center. But if convenience dictates, it can also deliver briefings at its Industry Experience Center in downtown Seattle, WA.
  • In the UK, the main Microsoft EBC is at its Thames Valley Campus in Reading, 36 miles (59 kilometers) from London. But it can also deliver briefings at its Customer Centre in Cardinal Place, London.
  • It is interesting to note the fast growth of Microsoft EBCs. In 2007, the company had only 8 EBCs around the world — 2 in the US, 4 in Europe, one in China, and one in India. Today, as mentioned above, it has 50+.
Mechdyne
  • Mechdyne has established its EBC at its global headquarters at Marshalltown, IA, and even though its has sales and service locations in 18 other North American cities, plus 2 UK locations and one in Malaysia, all its executive briefings are conducted at Marshalltown.
Akamai
  • Akamai has 5 EBCs around the world — Cambridge MA, Fort Lauderdale FL, Santa Clara CA, London UK and Bengaluru, India — and invites clients to attend the one that is most convenient. It also offers them "customized executive center briefings from any anywhere in the world", provided the necessary communication technology is available.

Trend 4 — Offer Virtual Briefings

  • Not surprisingly, given the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies now offer virtual executive briefings.
Microsoft
  • The company highlights that its offers a set of standardized executive briefings on the following topics:
Strategy Briefings — a facilitated strategic business and technical discussion to gain understanding of customer goals and challenges, and to discuss Microsoft capabilities and solutions. Facilities Offered: Experience Centers, Microsoft Technology Centers. Virtual Option: Yes
Executive Briefings — A strategic discussion on a set of business and technology topics that drives well-defined business outcomes and technical direction. Facilities Offered: Executive Briefing Center, Experience Centers. Virtual Option: Yes
Architecture Design Sessions — synthesize the business and technical requirements for a solution, including an initial scope and a high-level architecture to drive next steps. Facilities Offered: Experience Centers, Microsoft Technology Centers. Virtual Option: Yes
Hackathon — hands-on, intensely collaborative and inclusive sprints to determine the applicability of specific technologies against a set of business use cases. Facilities Offered: Experience Centers, Microsoft Technology Centers. Virtual Option: Yes
Hands-On Lab — a hands-on, immersive education experience to provide skills with a technology to enable solutions development and adoption. Facilities Offered: Experience Centers, Microsoft Technology Centers.
Virtual Option: Yes
Rapid Prototypes — an engagement to deliver a working prototype based on a predefined scope and success criteria. The purpose is to demonstrate key technical capabilities and application integration. Facilities Offered: Experience Centers, Microsoft Technology Centers. Virtual Option: Yes
  • The above list also highlights that Microsoft adopts a highly structured approach to its executive briefings.
  • The Microsoft briefing begins with an invitation from the Microsoft account team issuing an invitation to the client a minimum of 6 weeks prior to the briefing event. During that 6 week period Microsoft specialist consultants work with the client, the Microsoft account team and other partners to developing an agenda that meets the needs of all parties.
  • On arrival at the EBC, all guests are met and welcomed in the lounge area, offered refreshments, and given a brief introduction before commencing with the main agenda. The Microsoft specialist consultants identify the most appropriate Microsoft attendees in advance, so that the right knowledge and input is provided on every briefing agenda topic.
Akamai

Trend 5 — Present Client Case Studies

  • EBC presentations nowadays almost always involve case studies where the supplier has previously dealt with a similar problem for a client and successfully provided a solution. Showcasing products, services and solution in-situ at client sites is a major part of executive briefings.
  • This has become a trend as experience with executive briefings has grown and the powerful way in which case studies resonate with customers has become better understood.
Mechdyne
  • For example, the Mechdyne EBC is situated at its global headquarters in Marshalltown, at the Iowa State University, to which the company has supplied several technology solutions. But for some executive briefings, the company will meet clients at the Genesis System Group headquarters in Houston, TX, to which Mechdyne has supplied a major technology solution.
Akamai

Research Strategy

For this report, we leveraged the most reputable sources of information available in the public domain, including company websites for Microsoft, Akamai, and Mechdyne.

We noted a lack of coverage of EBCs in the general media and industry or trade sources.

All sources used in the report are listed below.









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Quotes
  • "EBCs are increasingly being used as an integral step in the sales cycle for major clients. Suppliers encourage clients to share their business goals and challenges and bting in their expert teams to offer solutions. It’s no surprise that our chances of winning the business increases significantly when we do. Using Executive Briefing Centers to create customized, personalized experiences for customers truly impacts your sales cycle. It's a great way to make your customers feel special."
Quotes
  • "Welcome to the Microsoft Executive Briefing Centre – a superb business setting where you can ask questions, explore IT strategy and build relationships with Microsoft executives and business experts. The centre is used to deliver a wide variety of briefings, subject to our customers’ precise needs. These executive briefings are designed to help you create an IT roadmap for the future – and to ensure that you achieve maximum potential from your Microsoft technology investments. Microsoft UK’s Executive Briefing Centre is at our Thames Valley Campus, and is one of eight such centres of excellence located around the globe. Executive briefings can also be delivered at Microsoft’s Customer Centre in Cardinal Place, London."