Blog and podcast update

Unfortunately, they're both delayed. I'll have a blog post later today, and the weekly podcast in a couple of days.

The latest podcast: Tim Harmon on SMBs and partnerships

The weekly podcast for product managers and product marketers is here. This week, senior analyst Tim Harmon explains how SMBs will be critical during the recovery, and provide tips for tech vendors for working with their partners. Plus, tech industry trivia! For the link to the podcast, go here.

How the Oracle/Sun deal makes sense

Ever since the IBM offer to acquire Sun fell through, we've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Apparently, we didn't have to wait very long.

Honestly, I'm surprised at the strongly negative tone to many of the responses I've read or heard today. You expect to hear a lot of snarky sniping on Slashdot, but come on, Infoworld, do we really know that Oracle is going to lay off 10,000 Sun employees? (Which is a highly misleading headline, since in the last sentence of that article, you'll discover that Sun was already planning to lay off 6,000 people.)

Every deal has its pros and cons. Since other observerss have been focused on the potential downsides for Oracle, Sun, or their customers, let's leave those aside for the moment. Instead, let's talk about the waysin which this deal make sense.

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Giving in lean times

Whenever the economy gets into trouble, charitable contributions take an even greater beating. This recession has struck particularly hard at many of the organizations that are major sources of institutional donations. No amount of tax incentives seem to change this picture significantly.

Therefore, every little bit counts. Companies still have some self-interest in charity, but that doesn't change the importance of the outcome.

Case in point is Atlassian, who is donating a portion of their core business, Confluence and JIRA, to raise money for Room To Read. The one-year, 5 users at $5 per user deal (click here for details) is hardly a cost-free donation for Atlassian. Confluence has a lot of traction in the Wiki market on its own. The Confluence/Jira duo appear frequently in technical teams who want a mix of tools that fit their work, but are flexible enough to be twisted into whatever collaborative shape they want. Heavily discounting these licenses, therefore, is nothing to sniff at.

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The extended family of Agile

While the actual document about Agile usage in the technology industry slowly but majestically navigates through the final editing and production process, I thought I'd share an important bit of data that didn't make it into the report. Shown in the diagram below is the percentage of survey participants who said that they used particular Agile methodologies. We also asked the respondents about other methodologies that often come up in discussions of Agile, either as complementary approaches (for example, Lean), or as points of comparison (Waterfall being the most obvious one).



How many at each table in the Agile seating chart?
As you can tell, there's no clear winner here, other than Scrum, which overshadows every other Agile methodology in adoption. There's another way to look at the same picture: whenever there's a family photo of Agile methodologies, the participants almost always make sure to invite their poor cousins to attend. There are both good and bad sides to that earnestly ecumenical approach.

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Latest podcast: emerging markets

In the third podcast, I interview Jennifer Belissent, a senior analyst here in Forrester's Foster City office, about emerging markets, going international, and what all that means to product managers and product marketers. Here's the link to the official location for the podcast, which is also available through iTunes.

Marketing didn't start in the Fifties

Saeed Khan's recent series of posts about social media started with a video that purports to explain the new rules of marketing in which social media play a critical role. This video repeats a familiar argument: old-style marketing went one direction, from the vendor to the customer. The consumer, presented with a smaller number of choices than they have today, based their purchase decisions on a variety of motives, both tangible ("Costs less!") and intangible ("Be more attractive to the opposite sex!"). Vendors created their own messages and transmitted them through normal advertising and marketing channels, in the hope that they would deflect consumers in their direction ("We cost less, and we'll make you look even better!").

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The Heretech podcast, episode 2

Now available over here. (Or, here's the feed for The Heretech blog, if you prefer.)

In this episode, principal analyst Peter Burris discusses community marketing, the real meaning of innovation, and the economy's effect on the technology industry. Plus, a surprise guest appearance by Lionel Richie!

Traditional requirements stink on ice, and then some


I, The Customer
I've already talked at length about how the assumption of the unified, rational actor called "customer" is a myth. That notion is just as chimerical and comical in product requirements as it is in economics and political science. Customers, like firms and governments, are neither unified nor rational.


Any point that important is worth making again, particularly as part of my recent litany of problems with requirements, as traditionally conceived. Rather than repeat what I already said, I present you with a pungent example, ripped from the pages of Two-Fisted Tales Of Product Management.


This PM For HIre

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Podcasting: from the literate to the pre-literate

Now that the end-of-the-quarter madness is out of the way, I've had time to finish my inaugural podcast, under the guise of The Heretech. (That's the name of the blog where I cross-post, in case you didn't know.) The heresy motif helps explain some of the attempts at humor, if they seem a bit opaque.

Here's the Heretech post that links to the first podcast, and here's the link to the Heretech blog's feed (in case you want to subscribe via iTunes or some similar tool).

This first episode features an interview with my colleague Oliver Young, who has lots of interesting things to say about social media and how B2B buyers are using them to inform their decisions. Oliver has been instrumental in collecting and analyzing survey data about this topic. As an added bonus for listeners, we discover why Oliver will never be welcome on the East Coast ever again.

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