I'm right in the middle of researching Forrester's Interactive Marketing Forecast -- our big sizing report which forecasts spending in different interactive channels five years into the future. In addition to leveraging a quantitative study of marketers (which some of you helped with -- thanks!), I'm also conducting a series of interviews with media providers, vendors, agencies and interactive marketing experts to help me prioritize trends and build out an accurate market sizing.
Last week as part of my research I spoke to Jim Nail, ex-Forrester analyst and current CMO of TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony and Jeff Lanctot, VP of Media and Client Services for Avenue A/Razorfish. Both independently mentioned a key theme defining the future of interactive marketing which I've been noodling on since my conversations with them. I'm paraphrasing a bit, but the theme is that of immersive marketing -- that is the idea of creating marketing programs that:
Create a cohesive and all-encompassing experience across any channel where the customer is.
Here’s a question that crops up more and more frequently. Forrester B2B marketing clients want to know “What are the average conversion rates for leads to opportunities and opportunities to sales in......?” You can fill in the blank with:
Industry: high tech, financial services, healthcare etc. Tactic: email marketing, paid search placement, direct mail postcards, etc. Size: small businesses, enterprises, firms over $250M in revenue, etc. Product type: durable, consumer, high technology, software, etc. Channel: direct sales, telesales, distributors, resellers, etc.
And create a tremendous array of opportunities to research. Opportunities so vast it boggles my mind, and makes me wonder how Forrester might provide this kind of information on a reliable, relevant basis at minimum cost to ourselves and our clients.
In the spirit of exploring this dilemma further, I’d like to hear from our blog readers – B2B in particular – on these two questions:
1) What specific sources of information have you found for these types of benchmarks? (Go ahead and mention competitors, you won’t hurt my feelings…) And how detailed, or reliable, do these sources need to be?
When Forrester first published the report The Information Workplace Will Redefine The World Of Work At Last in June of 2005, we described the Information Workplace as contextual, role-based, seamless, guided, visual, and multimodal. We included some Web 2.0 technologies like blogs and wikis in our discussion about the elements of the Information Workplace. But the impact Web 2.0 will have on the way people work goes way beyond new collaboration tools. With Web 2.0:
The question of measuring ROI of social computing is hot because it's so much a part of enterprise software acquisition. As information and knowledge management professionals move to get ahead of this emerging technology curve, they find a very consistent pattern:
People are using this stuff! Blogs and wikis in particular are popping up everywhere. Why not? They are easy to access, often free, and they are dead simple to use. It's one of those permission / forgiveness things. We've all done it.
If people are using these things that IT doesn't know about, there is no way of ensuring security, privacy, availability, governance, compliance, risk mitigation and all of those good things that keep the organization running and employees out of trouble (maybe even jail!).
Most really don't want to shut it down because in many instances these are more efficient solutions than those provided by the organization. These tools are often just easier and better for generating and publishing content.
The natural inclination in this situation would be to bring in the tradtional software vendors and see if they can support these new technology directions. Not surprisingly, a number of big vendors are ready and willing to help, including BEA, IBM/Lotus, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.
Sounds great. Lots of reasons to go with one of the big vendors (see bullet 2).
How much will it cost? How much will it give back? In other words, can the acquisition be justified with a strong return on investment analysis?
I get many questions on dashboards and scorecards and the role these tools play in BI (Business Intelligence). If we use Forrester’s definition of BI — a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information — then we see that dashboards are just the tip of the BI iceberg. One cannot build “just a dashboard”, without considering, architecting and implementing many other necessary BI layers and components such as data integration (ETL, data quality, etc), analytics (OLAP), metrics management, and many supporting components such as collaboration, knowledge management, metadata and master data management, and others. So that’s the first key takeaway: do not be fooled by 2nd tier dashboard vendor claims that one can implement an enterprise wide dashboard easily and inexpensively.
Let’s start with definitions, since I see the terms dashboards and scorecards used interchangeably:
Dashboards are just one style of interactive user interface, designed to deliver historical, current, and predictive information typically represented by key performance indicators (KPIs) using visual cues to focus user attention on important conditions, trends and exceptions.
Scorecards are a type of a dashboard which link KPIs to goals, objectives and strategies. Many scorecards follow a certain methodology, such as Balanced Scorecard, Six Sigma, Capability Maturity Models, etc.
Other types of dashboards include Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) dashboards and visualizations of data / text mining operations.
In today's LinuxWorld session by Simon Crosby, CTO of XenSource, and shepherd of the Xen open source project made the contention that the open source community is holding itself back by not ensuring compatibility between Xen, KVM and the other open source virtualization efforts. He's right to a degree in that standards for foundation functions would allow the greater community to enhance virtualization for all, but should we honestly hold out hope of this happening? As is always the case in the open source world, the crowd goes where the excitement is and popularity wins. It would be a waste of the community's efforts to try and drive standardization where it isn't wanted and to try and ensure compatibility between competing implementations when everyone expects a winner to emerge.
Enterprise customers want things they can count on, especially if they are pitched for use in production. The fickleness of the open source community runs counter to this desire which keeps open source technologies in the fringe until a commercial entity hardens them and wraps them in professional support offerings. This commercialization collects the interest of the community that wants to make a profit and, voila, the winner emerges. It's not the community that holds back open source projects its failure to bridge the desires of the commercial customers and ISVs and the community enthusiasts - the key to this is collective advancement of the chosen project.
I've had a number of recent client inquiries about search engine optimization (SEO), so I thought it would be worth sharing some of the best practices I've assembled.
First off, just a little color on the role SEO is currently playing in the search marketing landscape. I always recommend investing in SEO before paid search because it: 1) http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/0,7211,39441,00.html one-time investment (although you'll have some cost for ongoing maintenance of your site once you get it optimized) that continues to pay off for years and 2) It takes a few months to get your site optimized and start seeing results. So get your SEO started, buy some paid search ads to drive immediate traffic and test keywords, and in 6 months or so, you should have enough data and experience to have some pretty good integrated SEO/SEM programs running together.
There’s tug of war going on in the world of BI. On the one hand we have IT whose mission it is to manage and protect enterprise information assets, and on the other side there are end users who just want the data when they want it, and in the shape and form that they want it, without any limitations.
Traditional, mainstream BI vendors have catered primarily to IT target audience. These vendors will disagree, but take one look at their complex architectures, multiple layers and components, integration and support requirements, and you can’t help but agree that these are IT tools that can be used to create end user applications.
On the other hand I am seeing am emergence of smaller BI vendors that cater directly to the end users. They pitch simplicity, flexibility and little or no reliance on IT. True, these vendors do not have large enterprise functions like metadata, semantic layers, robust security and scalability, so I do not see them as enterprise-level, but rather departmental, focused solutions. Yet, the appeal to end users is undeniable.
Finding a compromise – satisfying all typical IT requirements, while empowering the end users - remains an elusive goal, and hence an opportunity for all BI vendors.
While I was looking through current offerings in Entitlement Management (EM), I was struck with the questions that will likely be the next logical thoughts in the CIO’s mind after they are sold on the obvious ROI of an EM solution.
Ever think about how much time, energy and money we expend on managing line of business data? Just drive past the Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores and you'll see a glimmering green city of glass all built on revenue from managing business data. OK, they make some money in other areas these days, but the emerald city was build on database revenue. Managing structured information is key to the success of any organization. The number in the bottom line needs to be accurate or very bad things happen.
On the other side of the coin lives unstructured information. While some unstructured information has been afforded the respect given to structured business data (engineering drawings, legal documents, pharmaceutical documentation, insurance claims documents to name few) the vast majority has languished virtually unmanaged in file servers and on PC hard drives. Even companies with the right resources and motivation, like Oracle which has the ability to manage structured and unstructured data in its database as well applications to take advantage of both, have made only minimal progress at bridging these disparate worlds.