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A Community Relations Plan for Citrix

Written on Jun 22 2004
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11,965 views, 22 comments


by Brian Madden

I’ve been thinking about some of Citrix’s actions recently, and I’ve been thinking about some of the things people are saying about the company. I’ve decided to organize my thoughts into what I’ll call a “community relations” plan for Citrix.

First of all, this is a “community relations” plan, not a “public relations” plan. Citrix (via Greenough Communications) already has a very active PR department. But this department is like any PR department—they’re focused on Citrix’s image with investors and analysts. A CR (community relations) department would focus on Citrix’s relations with the community—the technical folks, business partners, and the people in the field and in the trenches every day.

This CR department would keep an ear to the ground in the forums, user group meetings, and seminars. The CR department would visit customers, partners, and consultants.

For example, what happens when Citrix loses a deal to a lower-cost competing product? Surely the local sales rep knows, but where does it go from there? And what happens to all the feedback from the field?

Citrix claims to keep in touch, yet it took a question from the audience for Citrix’s VP of Product Development to learn that there were substantial technical problems with a Windows Service Pack combined with Citrix software. These issues were substantial enough to light up every forum across the globe, yet high-level Citrix employees didn’t even know about it.

Citrix should hire a Director of Community Relations, or a Director of Culture. So many people love Citrix products but do not like Citrix as a company. So many Citrix employees love the Citrix products but do not like Citrix as a company. The director of community relations should act as a liaison between Citrix and the community.

Citrix should create an email address called WhatTheHell@citrix.com, so people can ask them what they were thinking. How great would it be to be able to ask a company, “What were you thinking when you dropped support for NT4 in Feature Release 2?”

I chose that example for a reason. Back in 2002, Citrix decided that the Feature Release 2 update for MetaFrame XP would only support Windows 2000 servers—leaving anyone on Windows NT4 in the dust. This caused a HUGE uproar within the technical community, and many people (myself included) felt that Citrix was really screwing people who had NT4 and who paid for Subscription Advantage.

Two years later I had some beers with the (ex-) Citrix employee who made that decision. You know what? He told me that only eight customers were affected by that decision and that Citrix contacted each of them ahead of time and worked out a special arrangement.

So here it was not a big deal at all, yet due to a lack of communication between Citrix and the community, the community was ready to riot.

Citrix should create a whitepaper about the future direction of their technology. Instead of clouding the future about Bear Paw, Citrix should say “Yes, we understand Bear Paw, and here’s what we’re going to do to differentiate ourselves.” This would inspire confidence in Citrix’s product lines instead of driving people to wacky third-party opinions from sites such as this one. Citrix has a year before Bear Paw comes out and three years before Longhorn is released. That’s a lot of time.

Citrix should re-focus their certification program. Currently, if you want to get a CCEA certification, you have to take tests on MSAM or Password Manager. The problem is that most engineers are server-based computing people. As much as Citrix would like to be a “solution,” engineers focus on specific technology areas. It’s not right to force a server-based computing guy to learn a portal product. (In response, Citrix points out that Microsoft’s MCSE program combines several different technologies. While this is true, this is like comparing apples and oranges. People pursuing Microsoft certifications can choose from dozens of electives, so it’s not really like Microsoft is forcing them in one direction.)

While they’re at it, Citrix should think long and hard before retiring exams a few months after they’re first offered. The ONLY tests available in April 2004 expired in May 2004.

Citrix should make it easier for people to get their hands on products. 90-day evaluation copies or limited-user version copies of all Citrix software should be easily available from the web. Anyone should be able to easily and freely get evaluation software.

Citrix should follow through with the commitment they made several months ago to create their own version of the Microsoft MVP program.

Creating a Director of Community Management in Citrix would go a long way. This person would need to have real power within the organization and should be able to freely talk about the direction of Citrix as a company in addition to the industry in general. This person should be able to talk to technical people and business people.

I personally think that the future of this technology is bright, and that Citrix is in a good position. By opening up as they grow, Citrix can keep that strong position for years to come.

 
 




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Comments

Guest wrote Citrix Sales Push
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Mike on June 23, 2004
Hi,

I think this article raises some great points. I work in the tech side of the VAR channel and Citrix is one product that we provide to our customers. One thing that concerns me about the latest Citrix marketing push is the emphasis on 1000+ seat deployments, as if they are the only ones worth pursuing.

Citrix products can be a great benefit to companies with far less people than this (the nature of IT departments in smaller companies makes the system a blessing for IT Managers) and I think they should recognise this. Citrix are missing the point (and the massive market opprtunity) with regard to SME's and the way they reward VARs for dealing with them. I think this shows that they are out of touch.
Guest wrote Did You Double Up "So many people love Citrix products but do not like Citrix as a company."
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by an anonymous visitor on June 23, 2004
Citrix should hire a Director of Community Relations, or a Director of Culture. So many people love Citrix products but do not like Citrix as a company. So many Citrix employees love the Citrix products but do not like Citrix as a company. The director of community relations should act as a liaison between Citrix and the community.
Guest wrote No Double Up
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Brian Madden on June 23, 2004
Hi. The first sentence is "so many people..." and the second is "so many employees..." I was trying to show that this perception exists inside and outside the company.
Guest wrote I remember when
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Ron O on June 23, 2004
I remember when I used to know a number of people at Citrix. Back when the training staff watned to know your name and wanted your feedback and was abotu creating good courseware and not jsut a lot of BS. It was funny, they built a relationship with you, they knew you, e-mailed you when something cool was going and you were able to e-mail them and ask them the WTF type questions. Anyway you felt like a "Citrite". and they treated you like one. Anyway its just funny, this wasnt 1996/1997. this was 2000-2001 time frame. Again. Kinda like a Citrix MVP program they need, they need to start communicating with the tech people in the community and not just 20 or so customers with large uers bases.
Guest wrote Future Direction
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Mark S. on June 23, 2004
With all of our other vendors we have regular roadmaps that give us information about future products and insight into the direction of the company. However with Citrix we don't even know what the new direction is until the product is released.
Guest wrote I Also Remember When
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Mike B. on June 23, 2004
Like Ron, I remember those days just a few years ago when there was continuity between Citrix and the VAR/tech channels. They were interested in feedback on new features and what direction the product should go. It seems since the aquisition of Sequoia and the advent of MSAM (formally NFuse Elite), the company seems to have turned away from the community on forged ahead. I would swear that somewhere along the line there was a major shift in management at Citrix that preceded this. I would love to see Citrix return to this sort of thing and embrace what the community has to say, good, bad or indifferent.
Guest wrote I to Trmember When
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Aaron S. on June 23, 2004
I remember when there was better communication with Training and the other departments. I worked for a Citrix Gold Partner and now work for a Citrix customer. I have attended several Solutions Summits and iForums and have found if you meet the right people in person they are willing to help and provide an email address. I really think with Citrix's new push they are betting on the 1000+ seat customers to be their best source of recurring revenue and are forgetting that smaller customers become bigger customers and people tell their friends. As far as Certification I agree with Brian, who decides that your Certification will retire before the renewal tests are available?

For the email address how about WTH@citrix.com and for the really stupid problems WTF@citrix.com?
Guest wrote No Double Up
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by an anonymous visitor on June 23, 2004
Opps...It was a spot the difference game. : ) My mistake..
Guest wrote Guess there were more than 8 customers.... ; )
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Jim Kenzig http: Well I for one was one of the ones who really lit into Citrix about the NT 4 support and I still am steamed about it. They never asked us how we felt and we had JUST paid over $13k to renew our SA one month before they announced it.

I agree they have made some poor choices over the years and really are trying to reinvent themselves and are now once again trying to listen to the customer.
I think it is because the HAVE to if they want to stay in business. It may be too little too late though. Only time will tell.
It seems that they have lost all concern for the "little guy" and just want the big fish however their purchase of the GOTOMYPC line (now called Citrix Online) puts them back into the business of selling to the "little guy" or the one guy I guess. I'm not sure what this really means for the future of the company in the "business world" as the GOTOMYPC line is really a one off product.
At any rate I agree with every suggestion you have made as to how they can do things better and hope they read this.

JK


Guest wrote It's the NoWell way of business
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Dr.Conti on June 24, 2004
The explanation is probably very easy. They hired some Novell marketing & management staff. I think we can predict their future, if it will continue this way.
Those of you who once was very enthusiastic about Novell products can probably remember that the bigenning of the end was very the same. They didn't want to listen to the community anymore, they though they are the greatest and that this will last forever. On the other hand what ever will happen ***Microsoft Metaframe (Presentation) Server*** server sounds cool also... ;-)
And yeah the Re-De-Certification thing ... what a shame.
Guest wrote The "Biggest Little Company" in the World
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by JDUB on June 24, 2004
I, as most people replying here, agree with the points made in the article. Citrix acts as if it were a Microsoft equal, in both size and power, when it comes to listening/acting on customer issues. For example, the change from 1.8 RMS to the absolutely horrible XP RM. How could they think going from a full featured product that could use historical data to glean a picture of the overall farm to one that only held 48 hours worth of data and had to query every server in the farm individually, was a good idea? Was that a benefit for the customer? Even with the change in FR2, it is still not as good as the five year old RMS that shipped with 1.8. I must also say that their support is horrible. Most of the people answering the calls don't know the product and do not care to help you fix your issues, even if they are causing production outages. They give the standard MS answers of "first we need a dump file", so we have to intentionally blue screen a server to give them something that does not help the situation at all. This statement does not extend to everyone there, mind you, there have been a few SEs that will bend over backwards to help. Do you ever wonder why the user community is so great for Citrix? Because it has to be. The company itself has lackluster support and actively hoards fixes. Let's not forget licensing. Even the revamped licensing model is an absolute pain. Do you remember the last time a company touted it's "less difficult" licensing model as a product feature? I think Citrix should make more effort to court the user community that has kept its products running for all these years. I, for one, check thethin or the user forums before I attempt to look for a fix from the Citrix web site. I believe that speaks volumes.
Guest wrote Citrix Support
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Just Me on June 24, 2004
Great article, hit the nail on the head...just a quick side comment about the Citrix supports forums. Citrix should be kissing the a$$ of people who keep those forums alive. If the forums ever go, so does Citrix in my environment! To all forum supporters....Great Job!!!!
Guest wrote Sometimes they listen ...
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Dr.Conti (http: Well, have to correct myself. Citrix do listen sometimes. We once got a Citrix SE @ PubForum - for what I would like to say a THANK YOU SIMON FROST from Citrix UK! :-) But I believe it was his own idea. He personally contacted me because he was interested to hear about what we think about Citrix and to know how they can do products better. Unfortunately it is more an exception then a rule.
Guest wrote Beat this!
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Nelly on June 24, 2004
Since we are getting off the topic a bit (concerning bad tech support), here's my tale:

We dropped their "premier Support" because as many people have eluded too, it is downright horrible. So when we are in dire need, we drop the $400 beans and give them a call. The last time we did this, they charged my credit card twice! When I called them on it, the refused to pull the second charge and said I had to take it up with my CC company. If thats not bad enough, the support person I dealt with was unable to fix the problem (the the IMA service would not start) so I had to rebuild the server! Citrix has a no refund policy! So we got screwed out of $800 and they were not able to fix the problem. Citrix ranks dead last in my personal list of companies (then comes Veritas!) that I enjoy dealing with. And that aint no joke.
Guest wrote Welcome in the Club
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Dr.Conti (http://www.pubforum.net) on June 25, 2004
Well Nelly you better visit (http://support.citrix.com) next time, instead of paying a single cent for such "Premier Support". You will get a professional answer FASTER then you would get some SE on the phone listening about your probs. We will no leave you till the prob is solved - and the Best of it - IT IS ABSOLUTELY FREE, well you have to put points for us ;-) A good resource for ANSWERS on common problems (believe it or not - 95% ARE common) is http://www.citrix4ge.de site. It have answers to the most of the Q you may have in Citrix or TS, plus it is Updated each week! Not to mention that you will save your company a lot by not going for "Premier Support" from Citrix.
Guest wrote Certification
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Tony Edwards on June 25, 2004
What was behind Citrix's dropping of certain exams recently? These products are still in use (remember Citrix's Lower TCO 5 year model) yet the exams have beed de-certified. Now we have to take up to 6 exams including bizzarely, MSAM or password manager. Sounds like the marketing Dept have infiltrated this. Another example of which is the CSG2 documentation, nothing more than page after page giving priority to MSAM rather than what most people do with NFuse.

Not everyone gets their fees paid by their employer and these certs cost a lot to get. What a way to treat the techies, often the very people supporting, explaining and pushing Citrix products out there. Techies are an unpaid sales force. I e-mailed Citrix in March complaining about the exams policy and they never even bothered to reply.
Guest wrote As a former employee of the company
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Constantine on June 30, 2004
It is quite evident that Citrix doesn't care about the employees and (the lack of) sales management. Citirx Management clearly needs to address the issues they have created such as 1. Declining of margins in products. I have visited 3 resellers in different geographic territories who maintain there relationship for Subscription Advantage revenue only, they are not concentrating on new business 2. Channel conflict and Consulting. If you look at who runs sales, Al Monseratt in North America he came from a consulting background as did the recent SE manager of the South region. Citrix management pushes HARD for CCS revenue at the expense of the channel. Anyone who thinks this is a successful recipe should see a one-time great company named Novell - CTP a consulting company. I can see the future all over again and for the channel and Citrix, I personally think it doesn't bode well. The future with current management in place is scary look at all the people that have left recently in the East due to management. I can count 7 employees in the east alone that have left this past quarter. How can the company hit their expectations?
Guest wrote Citrix Sales Push
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Constantine on June 30, 2004
As a former employee -you are right on the mark. Management is ONLY interested in seeing OPEN license agreement (OLP/CLP) and Flex Licensing Programs. The decline of shrink wrap products continue. There are a few Citrites that are trying to re-invigorate the channel to no avail do the lack of margins.
Guest wrote Arrogance
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:29 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by an anonymous visitor on July 2, 2004
is at the heart of the problem, it seems a case of do it our way or buy something else! It will hurst them hard in the future when their best people are tired and move on?
Guest wrote Strategic Culture Leadership
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:30 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Mike again on July 14, 2004
Citrix needs to have a fully aligned leadership team (they are not), confront critical issues (they have not), create a vision for their technology that is based in today's market reality (it is not) and reflect their strategic intent within their business culture. They need a Chief People Officer who understands both internal business culture and can marry that with customer branding and a realistic and new customer proposition.
Guest wrote understood!
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:30 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by an anonymous visitor on July 16, 2004
Citrix does only care about revenue from open/flex programs. As a current employees I hear these gripes everyday from all of our customers. We are not given the tools to help provide assistance. We are given processes that not other departments know or understand and the customers end up getting transferred back and forth from one department to the next because ther are no clear cut, across the board processes known by everyone. Getting an eval should be easy and accessible. I don't understand the their process to call customer care, only to be sent to sales, only to be sent back to customer care for a case number so they can contact sales with that case number in order to get an eval! There are still sales people, upper slaes people, handing out CSN change forms in order for a client to be listed as a their Solution Advisor fka reseller! These forms are obsolete and now that option is available through the mycitrix web page....and do you know what happens to those forms? They are not given any attention, they are thrown away. They are thrown away because Citrix management thinks that one department is not doing their job in adivising the customers how to properly change their solution advisor...and who suffers? The CUSTOMER! Citrix most definately needs a vision! Thei vision could be acheived by first listening to the people who are here NOW, within, and really listen to what we are saying, not dismiss our front end experience with the customer
Guest wrote Appreciation Factor
on Sun, Dec 12 2004 1:49 PM Link To This Comment
This message was originally posted by Boomboom on September 7, 2004
Citrix is very disconnected not only with thier channel partners but the end users as well. My experience working Inside Sales for a gold partner was that
there seemed to be a this thought that a reseller should feel priveledged to be chosen to join the channel program. Never did it seem that Citrix was appreciative of the sales that were closed or support that was given to end users.

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