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Social Media Portal interview with Paul Bolt about A Bigger Bang!

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 09 November 2012

Social Media Portal interview with Paul Bolt about A Bigger Bang!

Social Media Portal profiled interview with Paul Bolt, director of marketing and channel at Rackspace

Rackspace logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What do you do there at Rackspace?

Paul Bolt (PB)
: Paul Bolt, I'm director of marketing and channel

SMP: Briefly, tell us about Rackspace - what is it and what does the organisation do?

PB: We are the service leader in cloud computing and hosting plus the co-founder of OpenStack

SMP: When was the company founded and who are your target audience and why?

PB: We were founded in 1998 and have solely focussed on the B2B market where people consume large quantities of IT infrastructure.

SMP: How did you initially attract users to your site and services, and how do you do it now?

PB: Over time the mix of offline to online has moved hugely – ultimately we measure hard and optimise the mix based on return.

SMP: You’re on a panel at Cognifide’s A Bigger Bang! Digital Marketing: "How to do more with less?" event in association  with Rackspace and in partnership Sitecore, what are you most looking forward to about the event?

PB: Mixing with peers, customers and prospects, but most of all learning.

SMP: More than anything, what would you like attendees to walk away with from the half-day event?

PB: Some fresh perspectives and smidgen of inspiration.

SMP: How important is it for agencies and brands to be using the right hosting solution for the campaign platforms they use?

PB: Hugely, brand experiences, good and bad, are impacted by the infrastructure layer in terms of performance and uptime – great content that does not work is worthless.

SMP: What are some of the top things that agencies and brands need to consider when choosing hosting for their campaigns?

PB replies with:

  • Uptime / availability – pretty self explanatory!
  • Service – a huge differentiator, with ‘hosted’ offering you are buying service not a server, understand criticality and get the right service
  • Bursting – the ability to scale on demand using cloud if you get spikey, unpredictable responses
  • Reputation – remember, 10 servers in garage is a hosting company! Get references and experience in hosting platforms, campaigns, mobile apps etc that fit your project and delivery method

SMP: How well do you think brands are using technology to manage activity / campaigns and where can / are they go wrong?

PB: It’s a real mixed bag – you see some outstanding examples – but often in pockets and not always tied back to what people set out to achieve. Good marketing is not about SEO, Social, Campaigns – anyone with a budget can do this. Good marketing is focussing on what you are trying to achieve to drive defined business outcomes.

SMP: How can they improve to make the activity and/or campaigns be managed more effectively (whether its budget, time, technology)?

PB: These are marketing 101 elements – if people do not understand these and are not actively learning, failing, succeeding et al and feeding these back into next steps they are probably in the wrong career.

SMP: What are the low moments of what you have been doing so far?

PB: Every time we get a detractor it gives us an opportunity to learn and improve the fanatical support promise. I’m not sure we view these as ‘low’ certainly Edison (he didn’t invent the light bulb and this may be urban myth – still valid though!) had a similar view:  "I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."

Soliciting and digesting honest feedback is vital.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

PB answers with:

  • The launch of Openstack cloud
  • Rackspace recognition from Gartner, Times top 100, National business awards etc
  • Net Promoter Scores highlighting the power of Fanatical Support

SMP: What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for agencies and brands in the current digital / technology age we’re experiencing (and what role does hosting have in this)?

PB: Educating people by cutting through hype and flash so that they deliver true value to their customers and customers’ customers will always be where great agencies thrive.

Aside from that, technology is in the midst of a generational shift, which means the way in which IT is provisioned and consumed will provide amazing opportunities for technologists and marketers, Businesses and Consumers will combine.

Photograph of Paul Bolt, Director of Marketing and Channel at RackspaceSMP: What’s going to be the most interesting aspect regarding social media and technology throughout the rest of 2012 and into 2013?

PB: This remains scary to big businesses but the tide is turning – big companies and social media a starting to become friends.

It is almost a throw back to the days of a local store where the shop keeper knew you and your tastes. This challenges what, for me, has been an era of ‘SEO, product price and availability’ online marketing.

Now, what your social group think and have experienced is more important, and a £1m ad campaign does not address this. Add to that the increased mobility of IT driving real time, geo-led interactions and the whole world is changing – now that’s interesting.

SMP: What are your top predictions for social media throughout 2012 and into 2013?

PB replies with:

  • The continued humanisation of business – a very real movement
  • Social search/social graphs – evolving search engines that tailor content based on your social circles
  • Social TV/Gaming – a potentially huge B2C route – again ‘closed’ social communities with shared interests
  • Giving up your privacy, a generation of people who realise that putting more in means you get more out and are happy to do so.

SMP: Cloud hosting is becoming increasingly popular, why is this and what does it have to offer that a dedicated or shared server can’t / doesn’t?

PB replies with:

•    Pay as you go
•    Scalability (hybrid dedicated / cloud also scales)
•    ‘The’ Short lived and the spikey are a great fit

SMP: How important are cloud services for agencies and brands that may be managing campaign websites or microsites?

PB: The right cloud service can drive fantastic performance, global reach with low latency and be cost effective and so drive profitability

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that you’d like to share?

PB answers with:
•    Cloud, today, is fragmented and disparate market
•    IMPORTANT, Its pick a platform not a cloud time – you will be in the cloud so picking the right one is vital

SMP: Best way to contact you?

PB replies with: @pbolt

Twitter @rackspaceuk

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

PB: Flatwhite from Starbucks

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

PB: I try to always be understanding and do good things!

SMP: How many hours do you work a week?

PB: I don’t track it – one thing for sure, the personal professional cross over continues to grow

SMP:  If you weren’t working at Rackspace what would you be doing?

PB: Living a quiet life

SMP: What’s the best campaign site that you’ve seen over the last six-months and why?

PB: Lexus did a very clever campaign where they used an iPad inserted behind a printed advert to animate the page – check it out, very clever.

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

PB: April – Cornwall

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

PB: Morning Rackers

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

PB: Eternal Life

About the A Bigger Bang! event

The Cognifide and Sitecore A Bigger Bang! event hosted and chaired by Miro Walker, CEO at marketing technology agency Cognifide is in association with Rackspace and in partnership with Sitecore, is half-day a free to attend event on Monday, 12th November 2012 from 12:00 to 15:00.

Screening Room & The Crimson Bar
The Soho Hotel
4 Richmond Mews

Register now to book your place at

Keep up-to-date with the A Bigger Bang event via @cogcaas and hash tag #CaasBB for the latest and the A Bigger Bang! competition. Follow all things Cognifide on Twitter@cognifide.

Read other A Bigger Bang! interviews from:

If you're interested in doing a Social Media Portal (SMP) interview, get in touch.

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