I know I am in the right business. Over 25 years ago, when I was a junior programmer on Wall Street, I heard the CEO of Citibank, Walter Wriston, say during one of the company meetings that “information about a transaction was going to become more important than a transaction itself”. I pondered on his prediction of the impending information revolution and decided to get into the business. I have not felt sorry ever since.
That is until now. I saw a good portion of my savings plan evaporate, some friends loosing their jobs on Wall Street in droves, and out of control media predicting, what basically amounts to, the end of the world (well, at least economic and social structures) as we know it.
What went wrong? While I am obviously not qualified to comment on the disastrous chain of events and a failure at every single link of the entire credit value chain (yes, I am not going to mention unreasonable social programs, uneducated consumers, greedy bankers and investors, ineffective risk rating agencies, and government regulation paralysis – did I miss anyone?), I am somewhat qualified to partially blame failed Business Intelligence at some levels of the credit value chain.
Quickly: For tech, this recession will be different than 2001-2003
Content: I'm not an economist. But I've been present for a bunch of recessions and watched how technology markets survived. And I spend a lot of my time talking to management teams at large companies about economic conditions and their businesses. Here's my view of the effects of this recession on technology. If you want Forrester's formal view of the recession, check out Andy Bartels' report, What the Financial Crisis Means to the Tech Market.
Here's my take:
1) Tech will be down, but not out. 2001-2003 was a tech depression. Spending stopped, projects were canceled, excess inventory flooded the market destroying pricing. Cisco lost half a trillion dollars of market cap. Why? Tech had a long way to fall. Tech spending in 2000 in the U.S. was up 12% -- there was fluff and fat everywhere. When the bubble burst, the fall was precipitous. But tech spending was up only 6% from 2006 to 2007. Users of technology are far more disciplined and have cut out the nonsense. So yes, growth will slow, but it won't fall off a cliff.
Wow. I am overwhelmed by the response I received from my first post on this subject. Looks like I hit a nerve and inspired some great commentary. In particular, I'd like to call attention to the thoughful response from Arthur Einstein, who is the VP of Marketing at Loyalty Builders. I wanted to comment briefly on what I am hearing from all of you so far. To avoid obsolescence, readers believe B2B marketers must focus on:
It is inevitable and welcome that a revitalized Lotus has launched a hosted email and calendar service.
Inevitable because cloud-based email services are on the rise and IBM isn't going to miss out on that. It might be your entire messaging system -- email, calendar, contacts as in hosted Exchange, Gmail, and now Notes Hosted Messaging. Or it might be an ancillary service as in email filtering from Microsoft, Google Postini, or Symantec MessageLabs or Exchange management from Azaleos. But pushing email out of the data center and into the cloud has some real benefits (outlined below).
Welcome to Forrester's enterprise customers because having Microsoft as the only hosted email service in town limits customer choice. And that's never good.
Oh yeah, then there's the attractive price. While nobody can undercut Google's $50/user/year price, IBM has aggressively priced this offering for between $8 and $18 per user per month.
Today marks the beginning of my 8th year at Forrester and my 4th year researching B2B marketing.
I’d like to use this anniversary to start a blog conversation about what I see happening in B2B marketing and to think about what’s next. And, frankly, I am concerned about the future of the business marketing profession.In particular, for those of us marketing high technology products and services.
Some of you may have heard about the joint announcement from EMC, IBM, and Microsoft about the creation of Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS). The purpose of this proposed new standard? To create a vendor-agnostic way of accessing the data in content management systems from multiple vendors. In other words: Remember when SQL became a standard for accessing databases? This is the content management system equivalent.
HR Technology (not “tech” according to show chairman Bill Kutik) was again a success despite economic woes constricting travel budgets — or maybe it was highly attended because arrangements to get to the windy city were made a few months back. In any case, here are some key take aways:
11th Annual Analyst Panel: I was invited to participate in the highest attended analyst panel session (1,268 people to be exact) alongside other leading analysts and consultants. View the results. The topics varied from Web 2.0 to the impact this economy will have on product sales. Bill Kutik (moderator) asked the audience a series of questions with electronic voting. One interesting tidbit is that two-thirds of user companies did not expect their HR technology spend to get cut. We will have the exact numbers later this week — can’t wait to see the raw numbers.
I am appalled at what has been happening in the economy lately. Seems like we are moving from one crisis management to another. First it was the oil price increase crisis, now it’s the credit markets crisis, while the oil crisis seems to have disappeared. There are revolutionary approaches to solving these crises being thrown around very lightly and carelessly these days: nationalization of certain industries, redistribution of wealth and other extremist approaches. Haven’t we learned from history? Don’t we know by now that revolutions do not work? It’s been proven time and time again in Soviet Union, China, Cuba and many other nations that revolutions only lead to disasters: terror, holocausts, starvation, turning societies and social structures upside down, and people leading miserable existence. I know. I lived in one of those countries. I do not want to live in another country going through revolution.
A quick addendum to the previous post about customer advisory boards (CABs): Badly-conceived and infrequently-held CAB meetings make the customer feel like the protagonist in this clip. (Plus, it's an excuse to post one of my favorite Kids In The Hall skits.)
In the small corner of the blogosphere devoted to product management, you'll often find musings about the value of customer advisory boards (CABs), such as this post from the Cranky Product Manager. In my own experience, CABs are frustrating beasts, which is why PMs keep talking about how to handle them: