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.
With an economic crisis looming, marketers must find new means to cut costs and deliver returns. Many interactive marketing tools can actually provide cost-effective ways for firms to increase sales and deepen customer relationships.
I hope you will join me for a complimentary Webinar where we discuss how interactive marketing can help you battle budget cuts or slagging sales due to the slowing economy. In this Webinar, I'm planning to define how interactive marketing should be a mandate for all marketers to stay relevant to their end consumers. I'm also going to tackle why interactive marketing matters, how your firm should approach it and how Forrester can help you craft meaningful interactive marketing strategies.
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.
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.
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.