It has been interesting watching the social-media frenzy over the past few days since rumor broke over the weekend that Forrester was changing its policy with regard to analyst blogs. Reactions have gone from one extreme to the other which I suppose is a good thing – people care passionately about being able to keep getting content from Forrester analysts through blogs.
Since I was one of the analysts consulted by Forrester on the new social media policy I've been asked to weigh-in on this topic – although I think my colleagues Augie Ray and Groundswell author Josh Bernoff put it very well in their blogs over the weekend. And Cliff Condon gave the official version of what's happening in his recent post.
Contrary to rumor, Forrester is not asking analysts to stop blogging. Quite the opposite. Forrester is asking more analysts to blog. What Forrester is asking us to do is to not blog under our own brand – if we have a private blog that has content related to our role as an analyst, we are being asked to move that content under the Forrester brand, but still as a personal blog.
Since I've been creating content online since 2000 either as a personal website (pre-blogging) or as blog content, I can tell you that my initial reaction to this idea was: whoa, you can't do that – free speech, liberty and all that. I may even have become quite animated. However, after an appropriate period of digestion, I came to realize that this makes perfect sense and, if Forrester were as a client I had to advise on a blogging policy, this is exactly what I would recommend.
My colleague on our Customer Experience team, Vice President Moira Dorsey, has written a major piece of research that I think consumer product strategists should read.
The report, "The Future of Online Customer Experience," has huge ramifications for how not just customer experiences will work, but indeed predicts the future of most consumer computing experiences. I urge clients to read the report itself. Moira has blogged about her report here.
Product strategists should take away (at minimum) the core of her model, called CARS: Online (and computing experiences in general) will be Customized, Aggregated, Relevant, and Social. Let Moira know what you think!
Many of the case studies you've seen me write about are B2C. But in the report on ROI of Social Media, I gathered data on B2B companies too. Here's a list of B2B communities.
Many people know Intel by their catch tune, "Inside Intel." And what's inside are the most amazing microprocessors that allow us to do great things back 25 years ago people could only imagine. Key to having been an innovator is always innovating. Intel- when they first came out with a new chip-- think back to the 286 processor and then transition to the 386. They met with some resistance in getting computer manufactuers to be interested in the chip. Why would you need more computing power?
So instead of staying stuck or ditching the product, Intel brought together a multidisciplinary team of individuals to tackle the problem. The net-net is that the team realized that its the end-user who is really their customer! when they went into computer shops and talked to the customers, they asked, "Would you like to be able to have many files open at once? Would you like to be able to run graphics programs, plays games, etc...." The customers responded positively with, "Of course we would!" That drove the computer store operators to tell the computer manufacturers to get those intel chips in their computers. Ah... I love that "voice of the customer" story.
But what I love more is that Intel innovated, why? Because they listened. That's a skill most companies don't have. And with social media, Intel has put their listening on dual processor tubro charged power. They know that their ability to innovate and lead the market is based on harnessing the power, knowledge and collaboration among customers, resellers, etc.. and Intel.
Wow. There are a lot of comments flying around about Forrester's yet-to-be released blog platform and associated policy - some accurate, some not. The blog posts from Forrester analysts like Josh Bernoff and Augie Ray have had the most accurate information to date.
SAP changes its board structure to focus again on product and technology
2009 was a tough year for the whole IT industry but SAP’s performance (-8% in total revenue and -28% in software revenue) was somewhat below the results of many other leading IT companies. The product launch of Business ByDesign is years delayed and clients are still unhappy about the way the new Enterprise Support was introduced. No question, SAP is currently in a difficult situation. At this point SAP announced yesterday that CEO Léo Apotheker’s contract will not be renewed and his resignation is effective immediately. In his place, the company appointed the two board members Jim Hagemann Snabe, responsible for product development and Bill McDermott, in charge of field operations, as co-CEOs.
After 20 years of service with SAP it would not be fair to blame Apotheker, who was certainly instrumental for SAP’s tremendous growth in the past, for the challenges SAP is currently facing. Over several years the company shifted from its traditional strengths, such as products, technology, quality and reliability to a strongly sales driven entity. In fact the whole board of SAP was slowly replaced by a team of pure sales professionals. Product innovation and quality, or customer satisfaction was no longer in the center of corporate strategy, but replaced by sales performance and quotas. In a press and analyst call today Hasso Plattner, Co-Founder of SAP and Chairman of the Supervisory Board, acknowledged that mistakes e.g. with Enterprise Support, were made, but the whole SAP board was involved and it was not Apotheker’s fault.
Forrester had heard rumors of restructuring at SAP before the announcement on February 7th that SAP’s CEO Leo Apotheker has resigned with immediate effect.
The return to joint CEOs with Jim Haggemann-Snabe running product and Bill McDermott running sales is likely to help in focusing on improvements in the field to restore SAP's sales fortunes in a tough market.
On Super Bowl Sunday, February 7, 2010, SAP announced that CEO Leo Apotheker’s contract will not be renewed and his resignation is effective immediately. In his place, the company appointed co-CEOs Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott. Both executives are already members of the SAP Executive Board, with Snabe in charge of product development and McDermott in charge of field operations prior to their appointment as Co-CEOs. More importantly, perhaps, Supervisory Board Chairman and cofounder Hasso Plattner has stepped up to take a more active role in overseeing the company’s direction. Apotheker’s departure was not a surprise for most industry followers. His contract was up for renewal things were not going so well for SAP of late. Just a week and a half prior to today’s announcement, SAP reported its 2009 financial results, in which total revenue declined 9% for the year (to €10,671) and software revenues declined by 28%. During his watch, customers become disenchanted over the mandatory migration and price increase related to Enterprise Support, as well as overly aggressive sales of featured products, including analytics. Mr. Apotheker couldn’t have been expected to perform miracles in a down economy, and can’t be blamed for the false starts with Business ByDesign that he inherited. In fact, Business ByDesign has seen significant progress during his tenure and is now ready for market. In addition, Apotheker was instrumental in launching SAP’s strong commitment to sustainability during the past year. With the appointment of co-CEOs Snabe and McDermott, SAP continues a long-standing tradition of promoting CEOs from within. Co-CEOs, in fact, have been used before, most recently with Apotheker serving as co-CEO with his predecessor, Henning Kagermann, during the transition period leading up to Kagermann’s retirement.
The Attorney General of New York is investigating a large group of online retailers to see if they have been sharing your credit card data with third parties without your knowledge or permission. In a press release, the AG's Office details the scheme, including the fact that you may unknowingly be giving someone other than the retailer you are shopping with your credit card number:
"Information about joining the membership program and its ramifications, including the fact that the consumer is agreeing to transfer his or her credit or debit card account information, is buried in fine print and cluttered text."
My gut tells me that this violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the PCI Data Security Standard. According to the PCI DSS:
"Additionally, merchants and service providers must manage and monitor the PCI DSS compliance of all associated third parties with access to cardholder data."
It is probably safe to assume that the business agreement around the data sharing identified by the New York AG's office did not include language surrounding PCI compliance.
An MSNBC story on the investigation puts it this way: