Why are sales and marketing professionals working harder and longer than ever before? Why are they seemingly in a constant firefighting mode, moving from one fire drill to the next, one meeting to another?
Following on to Rob's great analyses of Cisco's Jabber and PostPath acquisitions, here are some additional things that Information & Knowledge Management Professionals should tune into regarding Cisco as the new collaboration kid on the block:
First, Cisco is building a meeting-centric workspace product with WebEx Connect. Think about the key documents, chats, connections, calendar, contact lists, business and collaboration widgets, and video links hosted in a workspace with persistence, invitation- and approval-based access, and all the piece parts of a real workspace. That means you should be putting Cisco on your vendor list when looking at new team collaboration scenarios.
Second, Jabber will be bundled into WebEx Connect as the core presence engine. In other words, this acquisition is, as Rob pointed out, a great way for Cisco to get a global-scale presence engine. But it's also presence designed around a B2B or distributed team environment. And that signals where you should look at Cisco: It's in B2B teams. Or teams that sit on the edge of the enterprise -- sales, product development, supply chain, partner management -- should look at this new option.
I'm just back from the Fourth Annual Cross Media Forum put on by BIMA, the Boston Interactive Media Association, a MITX organization. I thought the depth of content from the event was exceptional. It included:
"Embrace chaos; deliver results." Really? Unleash social networks, employee-generated video, and wikis loose in my company? That sounds hard for any normal company. Yet that's the theme of our event here in Orlando.
At the end of day one, after listening to a varied and experienced line-up of presenters, I came away with the feeling that not only is it possible to embrace chaos and deliver results, it's also an imperative.
Here are some loosely worded and paraphrased quotes from speakers that anchor my feeling:
When Ken Washington, chief privacy officer of Lockheed Martin, was asked how he convinced the CEO to allow blogs and social networks at Lockheed Martin, he said that in the war for talent these tools will help us "attract and retain talent."
It makes a ton of sense if you think about it. We know from our Technographics studies that the Internet-native Gen Y generation behaves completely differently than their Gen X siblings. They use IM, social networks, and blogs to communicate and get their work done. And the Millenials that follow them are even more estranged from old-school tools like email. These new employees expect the power that a Facebook brings.
If customers don't trust your company, it's bound to be bad for business. The FEER blog points to a noodle shop in Hong Kong, which is seeking to reassure customers by printing expiry dates on the noodles themselves.
But how does one deal with a collapse of trust in an entire country? Whenever a new scare threatens Chinese exports, we hear about new legislation, increased inspections, and draconian punishments. But it seems that the underlying problems are endemic and can't be easily rooted out.
I hosted a dinner last night at Forrester's Business and Technology Leadership Forum here in Orlando. Great discussion with 12 CIOs, several CMOs, and a vendor CEO. When we weren't passionately debating politics, we spent time compiling recession strategies -- the best ways of riding out a potential economic slowdown.
Today, Cisco announced their intention to acquire Jabber, a major player in enterprise instant messaging. On the heals of Cisco's acquisition of PostPath for email, it's becoming clear that Cisco is really serious about collaboration. Not only are they serious, but they are begining to execute on a very compelling strategy. Some of the more interesting aspects of this move:
Jabber continues to fill out Cisco's collaboration portfolio by adding secure instant messaging and persistent chat. Now, they have their established position in unified communications, voice conferencing, telepresence and WebEx web conferencing and email, instant messaging and persistent chat coming on line. If Cisco can drive deep integration across all of these components and do it at a reasonable price point, there will be real value in the bundle.
Jabber is well positioned for cloud deployment. Their core differentiator has long been massive scalability with a design goal of serving millions, rather than thousands of users. If you want to take on market leaders Microsoft and IBM, you need to identify and exploit a market disruption. Cloud-based collaboration could be just the disruption Cisco needs. Massive scalability helps a lot.
Quickly: Forrester predicts a technology slowdown lasting three to four quarters, driven by an expected mild recession.
Forrester uses its extensive primary research with consumers, large companies, and vendors to continually forecast tech spending and the health of the overall economy. Here's what we're seeing.
The financial services sector (investment banks, regional banks, local banks, mutual fund companies, hedge funds, securities firms, credit card issuers, etc.) represents about 18% of the US IT market. The Wall Street portion (Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America,Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, et al.) is approximately a third of that, or about 6% of total U.S. IT spending. The troubled firms (Lehman, Merrill, Bear Stearns, AIG, Fannie, Freddie) represent only 2% of IT spending -- this is the portion most in danger of being cut.
One of the unfortunate legacies of management software is the still-too-universal force of exoneration as a purchase rationale. When the “blame game” kicks in, we turn to our management tools in an attempt to gather evidence that will exonerate us from blame. This is a dangerous, yet pervasive element of IT culture that must be exterminated. Perpetuation of these insidious forces will threaten the very viability of the entire organization.
IT has long been the scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in the company, and quite frankly, we deserve much of this unsavory scrutiny. The way we’ve run IT is more characteristic of sloppiness than disciplined execution. Such an atmosphere is destructive to the entire organization and this destruction is obvious to many business leaders. They will take action to remedy the situation, action that will prove disastrous for those who fail to demonstrate progress toward discipline.