Yesterday, two of my research interests, Agile and CRM, intersected during a briefing. The demo, which I'll describe in a moment, was a great illustration of one of my pet theories: integration will be the killer feature for software in general for the next several years. CRM in particular needs these benefits of integration.
Rally Software has a nice integration between their tools, designed to support Agile development teams, and the Salesforce CRM system. Salesforce users can record enhancement requests and product feedback that are fed automatically into the requirements component of Rally's suite of tools. Product managers then can refine this information (has anyone asked for this feature before? how does it fit into a user story? how important is it?) and add it to the backlog. The product roadmap, which now includes requests that start in the CRM system, can also have some visibility within Salesforce.
Very slick, particularly in how this example shows the value of integrating CRM with other things. As of today, CRM has a lot of untapped potential. As we discovered in the "product management tools" study earlier this year, the CRM system ranks at the bottom of requirements sources.
Symantec today announced its acquisition of MessageLabs, a 520-person UK-based email filtering and security vendor. Given the cost and hassles that information & knowledge management professionls (IKM Pros) have keeping email spam down to a dull roar and keeping viruses outside the firewall, this is a great move for Symantec. And now IKM pros with deep Symantec relationships have a simple choice: Keep email filtering on-premise (and pay up front and on-going) or outsource that annoying task to Symantec MessageLabs (and pay by the month).
My colleague Chris Voce and I have been doing research into the costs and challenges of on-premise email versus cloud-based email. (We'll publish a report in the next month or so with the details, but Forrester clients can contact us if they want to talk now about email in the cloud or the cost of email.)
A few things have popped out of the research:
Firms don't know what their email costs. It's easy enough to calculate the server and mail client costs, but the other costs -- administration, server and software maintenance, email filtering administration, storage, data center operations -- are usually swept under the carpet. When firms calculate a fully loaded cost per user, they will be shocked.
"Inquiry Insights: Agile Development." Interestingly, a lot of questions we get from clients focus more on the type of product and organization implementing Agile methods than the methods themselves.
Also, I have a short piece in Computing magazine about the best practices foremost on the minds of development teams. As always, your observations, applause, or expressions of mild outrage are welcome.
Most modern large enterprise Business Intelligence (BI) tools are very robust and feature rich these days. Up until a few years ago BI users could blame vendors for most of their BI ills. This is getting harder and harder to do. Many of the BI tools, especially the ones reviewed in our latest BI Wave, are very function rich, robust, stable and scalable. However, while the tools have really improved for the better over the last 5, typical BI issues and challenges remain the same as when I first tackled them as a BI programmer over 25 years ago: silo’d implementations, incomplete data sets, dirty data, poor management and governance, heavy reliance on IT, and many more.
We are right now in the middle of running a BI survey, exploring these and other BI issues. While the results are still pouring in, the preliminary findings are 100% supportive of the evidence we’ve collected qualitatively and anecdotally over the past few years:
Not all data is available in BI applications
Data is less than 100% trustworthy
BI applications are somewhat difficult to learn, use and navigate
Most of the reports and dashboards are developed by IT, not end users
Quickly: automation is outstripping human common sense.
Content: Two cases are relevant. 1) Google's dissemination of old United Airlines news resulting in a precipitous UAL stock slide, and 2) exotic, computer-generated financial instruments leading Wall Street into fatal waters.
What happened? In the first case, a system unchecked by human beings made a mistake resulting in massive damage to an already fragile public company. But that's nothing compared to the wreckage caused by the inscrutable mortgage securities.
My father was a part-time banker who loved to extol the virtues of what he called "small town banking." It was all pretty simple: his bank took deposits and loaned that money to people whom the bank officer had gone to high school with. This was important, because bankers are not the highest IQ animals on the savanna -- they needed good doses of trust and information to sleep at night.
A while ago, I published a piece titled "Beyond Innovation: Adding Adoption To Your Business Objectives," which started with the observation that we're damn lucky in the technology business. Innovation, particularly on the software side, moves faster than in other industries because of fewer physical constraints. Oh, sure, a few hard realities apply, such as the speed of light, or the amount of heat your overclocked gaming PC generates. Those constraints are trivial, compared to the limits of physics and chemistry that innovaters in other industries face.
As good as rapid, unconstrained innovation can be, it's not without its problems. Technology companies want to give the human source of these innovations, whom we'll call The Smartest Person In The Room, enough latitude to put their talent and creativity to work. And heck, since they're smart, why not put them in charge of things needed to bring their innovative ideas to market, such as the development team? Unfortunately, there is such a thing as giving highly intelligent people too much latitude.
Chang makes the point that social media need a more robust system of identity and reputation to support online interaction -- so that communities have ways to freeze out irresponsible and hateful individuals.
I think this is a particularly serious issue in countries like Korea and Japan. In these countries, where "real life" society is quite buttoned up, people turn to online forums to let off steam anonymously. For example, Japan's social networks (such as Mixi) tend to be anonymous and the most famous bulletin board, 2-channel is full of posts under the identity "No Name". Many Japanese people feel that this anonymity protects their privacy and liberates them to say what they really think.
I remember a conversation that I had a few months ago with a Japanese technology blogger who hides his "real life" identity. His technology blogging struck me as inoffensive (and brilliant), so I couldn't understand why he asks people to refrain from taking his photograph and why he dons a disguise before making a speech in public. (It sounds like a comedy about the mafia... right?) He told me that he feels a need to stay anonymous, even for his politically neutral blog.
I wonder if it will always be this way? I hope that more people in Japan will see the value of social media where online identities are associated with offline identities. That seems to be the surest way to ensure that people behave responsibly.
[On an unrelated note - I have heard that the email subscription software on this blog has been sending out multiple emails with the same information. I'm trying to get that fixed as soon as possible].
Why? The truth is, I learn by doing and by speaking with others who do. So I dabble with Twitter, Plurk, Pownce, Spoink, Rakawa, Tumblr, Utterli, Yammer, FriendFeed, 12seconds, and probably a few others that I signed up for and forgot to use. I have found a nice collection of people that I like to follow, and some people follow me too. So microblogging appeals to the extrovert in me, and I'm strangely fascinated reading what other people are doing (or what they say they are doing). Narcissism and voyeurism are at play.
Reebok and its agency Carat shared the details of their "Run Easy" campaign -- a multichannel effort to create a movement in running.
The situation: Reebok has strong brand recognition, but a much smaller share of sales than competitors. Reebok wanted to create a perception that running was for everyone, not just for the elite, a very different message than competitive positioning. Reebok also believed that to do this well, they needed to create a *movement* around running. It wouldn't work to try to motivate people around running just with a few outbound campaigns.
The approach: Creating a movement is different than creating a campaign. In fact, Reebok used an approach somewhat contrary to how traditional media efforts are developed. They seeded their market with the "run easy" idea in advance of a large media blitz. Then they used media to further interest in the idea and enroll people in the movement. And last they spread the message through in-person events and viral elements in order to drive participation and encourage the community to spread the word on Reebok's behalf.
From my perspective the primary lessons to take away from Reebok's effort, are:
Nick Johnson the VP of Multimedia Sales for NBC Universal shared some great data and lessons learned from NBC's "ownership" of the Beijing Olympics.
He called the Olympics a cultural phenomenon -- and for more reasons than their presence in China and all of the political hullaballoo that brought about. From a media perspective, the games brought about significant behavior change among American consumers:
76% stayed up late to watch events 48% changed their routine in order to watch events when they were on 36% delayed doing things in order to watch events
On top of the high volume of television watchers: 56 million unique users came to NBC's site to watch events, get content, see replays NBC saw 12.3 million video downloads, AND it saw 16.4 million unique mobile users
Johnson's conclusions from the research NBC conducted following the Olympics:
1) Television can still be king. The Olympics were hugely successful at driving a mass audience for NBC