Cool Solutions

Interview with Kari Woolf, Novell Product Marketing Manager for GroupWise, Data Synchronizer and Messenger


December 5, 2011 4:20 am





I had an interview with Kari Woolf, Novell Product Marketing Manager for GroupWise, Data Synchronizer and Messenger.

Gert: Hi Kari, welcome and great to have you for this interview. What makes Kari Woolf to become a product marketing manager, can you picture us the road to this?
Kari: I’ve been working for (or with) Novell for 20 years. I came to the company through the WordPerfect acquisition back in the mid-90’s, did a 7-year stint at an ad agency (where I did a lot of client work for Novell), and then returned to Novell in 2001.

I served in a variety of product marketing and communications roles before assuming the GroupWise Product Marketing Manager position last May. I love the GroupWise product, the GroupWise team, and the GroupWise community. So this is a great place for me to be.

Gert: What is Novell’s message for NEW customers and how do YOU project this into your everyday’s work? Can you state this with a few keywords.
Kari: We’re actually talking to EXISTING customers first—and earning the right to pursue new business once we’ve re-established success and satisfaction there.

But once that commitment has been met, I’d say to NEW customers, “Come on over to GroupWise. We offer a lower TCO than the enterprise solutions you’re using today—and far greater security, scalability and data governance than the ‘free-mail’ solutions you may be feeling pressure to consider.”

Gert: Is your job like solving a jigsaw puzzle – piece by piece, is it a flowchart – structured, or is it 90+ percent intuition?
Kari: A lot of marketing is simple project management. It’s creating solid strategies, breaking those down into executable tactics, and then dividing those into manageable steps that lead you to your desired goal.

But at a more fundamental level, you can’t separate marketing from intuition. An effective marketer has to know the product, the market and the customers well enough to make decisions—in the moment, every day—that serve their best interests.

Gert: What is Novell’s message for EXISTING customers and has this changed since Novell is part of the Attachmate Group ? Can you state this with a few keywords ?
Kari: Our message to EXISTING customers is simple, powerful, and radically different from the Novell messages of the past. It’s this: “We’re YOUR Novell again.

We’re heading back to the basics—back to the great software, strong relationships and excellence in engineering at that are at our core. You made a smart, strategic decision when you invested in Novell technology. And we’ll make sure that decision brings rewards far into the future.”

Gert: Now short questions with short answers.
Coffee or tea or water ?
Kari: Diet Coke. I’m from Utah, after all!

Gert: Reading person or a doing person?
Kari: Definitely a doer. Theory is great, but I like digging in and getting things done.

Gert: The boss is everything or I like to criticize other management?
Kari: Respect for leadership is important, and I have a lot of confidence in Novell’s leadership right now. But they have also empowered their teams to make decisions quickly, execute nimbly, and do right by our customers in all of the simple ways that present themselves every day.

The bureaucratic layers are being stripped away. Novell today is a much more agile, responsive and customer-focused organization. And I think we’ll continue to make even greater strides in that direction.

Gert: Music, buddhizm, or politics?
Kari: I sing in my church choir, love yoga, and have a degree in Political Science. So how about all three?

Gert: Businesscard, handshake or phonecall?
Kari: Handshake whenever possible. There’s nothing like face-to-face relationship-building.

Gert: GroupWise, Data Synchronizer or Messenger?
Kari: I do marketing for all three products, and I rely on all three for my work and everyday functioning.

Back to the QnA.

Gert: What makes your work differ from that by Dean Lythgoe, product management ? On what areas are you working together ?
Kari: Dean, Tracy Smith and I work very closely on many aspects of the product. We collectively oversee the Collaboration Product Leadership Team at Novell, and we consult with one another on much of the work for which we’re individually responsible.

But fundamentally, Product Management is responsible for product direction, day-to-day coordination with engineering and support, and outbound representation with customers and sales, while Product Marketing manages messaging, campaigns, content, events, and other product promotion opportunities.

Gert: You’ve been to GWAVACon in Munich, Germany, EMEA. What was your experience and what would you do different next time ?
Kari: I loved having the chance to attend GWAVACon EMEA and meet such a dedicated and vibrant GroupWise community. I heard a lot of good feedback that continues to inform my decisions and work today. I also got the chance—along with the entire Novell team—to share the renewed commitment and enthusiasm that Novell has for GroupWise.

What would I do differently next time? Plan to spend a few more days seeing that beautiful area of the world!

Gert: You recently joined the NGW List. Why, what do you like about it and what do you add to the stuff people / mostly admins / talk about ?
Kari: I want to learn from the perspectives of the GroupWise community—to have a finger on the pulse, so to speak. Novell is keenly interested in being more present, more involved and having more voice in these day-to-day product conversations.

I plan to use the list to ask questions and get feedback when I need an external (but knowledgeable and invested) perspective. I’ll also use it to communicate product milestones, news and successes. The members of the NGW List care deeply about GroupWise, and I’m looking forward to being a part of their groundswell.

Gert: What do Web 2.0 and 3.0 tools mean to the communication with customers, end users, power users, admin, etc. I mean PDA’s, phones, tablets, Twitter and Facebook accounts, ….
Kari: I’ll address this question in two parts: First, what we’re offering on this front, and second, how we’re getting the word out about it.

First the “what.” Seamless mobile access to e-mail, calendar items, tasks, contacts, and enterprise applications and data is nothing short of a business imperative. That’s why mobility (most notably in the form of new web-based iPad support and a wholly revamped WebAccess interface) is a central theme of the GroupWise 2012 release. It’s an area that touches end users and administrators alike, and we’ve got a lot of good messages to communicate there.

Next the “how.” Social media is becoming more and more central to marketing and communication activities. Novell has a strong history on this front with Cool Solutions. You can expect us to continue to make inroads in this area, with Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels figuring prominently into our communication plans.

Gert: Are you as a product marketing manager aware of the solutions by partners? If so, how do you manage these contacts ? Are you the one that does the most talking to them?
Kari: I’m getting to know several of the ISV partners who add tremendous value to GroupWise. While much of the day-to-day coordination with these partners happens through my colleagues in Product Management, I’m involved when a joint marketing opportunity arises.

An example is our “Community Chat” webcast series. We’ve already featured a few GroupWise ISV partners in these webcasts, and we’d love to have more. Please contact me at if you’re an ISV partner who is interested in this opportunity.

Gert: What are the next steps for GroupWise ,Data Synchronizer and Messenger that people should know about ?
Kari: We have public roadmaps for all three products, and you’ll be happy to see the frequency with which we plan new releases moving forward.

The best way to keep tabs on what’s coming and when is to check out our new dynamic roadmap application, coming soon to the GroupWise home page (

It includes a 10-year timeline (with early product milestones also available for nostalgia’s sake) that lets customers …

a) see where they are in relation to currently shipping product,
b) understand where Novell can take them in the future, and
c) stay up-to-date as Novell makes tweaks to our plans based on the customer input we’re continually collecting.

It’s the first tool of its kind at Novell, and I think it will meet a pressing need.

Gert: Tnx Kari! Keep up the good work.
Kari: Thanks for the opportunity to “meet” the GWCheck family!

© december 2011

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Categories: Expert Views, GroupWise, Messenger


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