Mass marketing web 2.0 through an unusual source: the channel

There was something about last month's announcement about Suite Two the power-combo of RSS, blogs, Wikis and search wrapped in a holiday bundle that caught my attention.  Intel Capital, the group who brought together the all-star team,  has investments in a couple of the players (SpikeSource and SixApart) so it made sense they'd be happy to promote Enterprise 2.

There was something about last month's announcement about Suite Two the power-combo of RSS, blogs, Wikis and search wrapped in a holiday bundle that caught my attention.  Intel Capital, the group who brought together the all-star team,  has investments in a couple of the players (SpikeSource and SixApart) so it made sense they'd be happy to promote Enterprise 2.0 solutions.  

But what really intrigued me was using the reseller channel to deliver the goods on web 2.0.   I spoke yesterday to Rob Rueckert, Investment Manager for Intel Capital, who is overseeing the Suite Two initiative for Intel.  The Suite Two solution is being marketed through the software and solutions group within Intel's Channel Marketplace.  What I found out was interesting.  For starters, initially Intel was targeting the SMB market, but Rueckert said, "We were totally surprised with the demand on the enterprise side."  The inquiries have been coming in in droves.  Planning an alpha release in January, beta in February, and full release in March or April, the Suite Two partners (Moveable Type, Socialtext, Newsgator, SimpleFeed and SpikeSource) will have their hands full.  

Rueckert explained that as margins are getting squeezed, especially internationally, Intel is trying to help its OEMs, distributors, and resellers differentiate in the marketplace.  Giving thousands of channel partners the ability to sell to best-of-breed enterprise 2.0 applications is good for Intel and good for enterprise 2.0 evangelism.  Intel will be investing heavily in "crisp and clear messaging" and marketing materials that will include a variety of multimedia and print formats: brochures, web casts, flash demos, and trial logins.  Even though Rueckert says the inquiries are coming in to Intel off a single press release, he expects the demand to increase once the program is underway.

Intel's channel was already pre-sold on web 2.0 solutions.  The partners wanted to know how they could leverage the new software movement and saw the demand in their downline, according to Rueckert.  Among the large, F500 companies who are interested in the suite, it's a mix of IT and business user groups looking to implement web 2.0 solutions.  The demand is not only from high tech companies, but from large companies who you wouldn't ordinarily think of as progressive.  Oil and Gas companies, Manufacturing, even Medical companies are eager to learn about web 2.0 for their business, according to Reuckert.

With Intel's strong brand and role as trusted advisor, we'll see if selling web 2.0 through its thousands of channel partners will spike up user adoption in the enterprise and SMB market.   Of course, Intel's partners ultimately sell to value-added resellers and systems integrators.  It will be really interesting to see how VARs and SIs personalize these web 2.0 solutions for their vertical market customers.