Big fat zero

Any book of netiquette should include, "If you're going to give feedback, make it useful." In most settings, there's no enforcement mechanism to make people give useful feedback--nor should there be. In the end, the target of your critique will take you as seriously as you take the critique itself.

That's my feedback to the person who rated "Product Managers Are Working On The Wrong Things" a zero, with no comments explaining the rating. You expended a few ergs entering the rating, but you should have spent a few more typing comments. If a particular piece of research is truly worthless,  please tell us why, so that we can make informed decisions about future research. Otherwise, I have no idea what to do with the rating, other than to scoop it up and drop it in the plastic bag of long-term memory.

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Friday follies: Worst captchas ever

If you've ever been frustrated entering the garbled text displayed in a "captcha" graphic, you'll enjoy this presentation.

The Mom Standard in product marketing

Product designers in the technology industry have an unofficial measure of usability: the Mom Standard. No one has ever written down a rigorous definition, since it normally amounts to someone saying, "We want to build something that's so easy to use that my Mom would understand it."

Let's pause for a moment and say a word in defense of our mothers, who apparently have become the iconic representation of the most clueless user imaginable. There are plenty of clueless users, many of whom are not moms, nor are they even female. There is nothing in the process of giving birth that increases the level of technological challenges you will face. Still, for whatever reason, people keep blurting out the Mom Standard during product design discussions.

Which brings us to a different species of the Mom Standard, in this case applied to product marketing. In doing some research on the future of CRM, I'm finding my way through this jungle of technological and business issues. Nearly everyone who has advice about what lies on the other side of the jungle--the state of CRM in 5 years--believes that the true path goes through the tropical garden of community marketing.

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Keeping your powder dry

I don't think I've ever worked for a software company that didn't aspire to be a platform. Of course, the meaning of platform isn't always the same. For some, the word means infrastructure on which you build applications. For others, it connotes a category of data that is central to your business. And, of course, there are other variants.

Being a platform, in either meaning of the word, takes a lot of smarts, sweat, and patience. You don't become a platform overnight. It's not merely a matter of positioning--as if something that's presumably as solid as a platform could somehow be positioned in the first place. (Of course, we're dealing with companies that are, by and large, headquartered in California, so perhaps the concept of a foundation that shifts to and fro isn't all that strange.)

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The Growing Security Skills Shortage

Jonathan Penn

We are regularly hearing from our security clients about their difficulties finding people with the right skills – or when they do finally find them, these people are too costly to employ because their skills are in such demand.

Indeed, the “unavailability of people with the right skills” was cited as a top challenge for security groups in both our enterprise and SMB surveys.

In comparing need for talent across 25 different IT roles, Forrester analysts came to the conclusion that information security experts are among the hottest roles in IT, sharing the top spot with information/data architects.

The skills shortage is likely to get worse before it gets better. We’re unlikely to see a significant spike in security experts’ salaries to attract those we need to hire: large changes in compensation for senior security personnel would run against the current of economic belt-tightening. Another typical approach to offsetting the shortage would be to train up: foster the career development and advancement of existing security personnel on our payroll. However, with all the outsourcing that is going on – and which will increasingly occur – there is a shrinking pool from which to find people with “the right stuff” worth championing their advancement.

We could look outside of security to others in IT, or even to co-workers in other departments or business groups. But given how poor a job IT Security does of marketing its value proposition, I don’t hold much hope for attracting non-security people.

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Agile development: creed or ethos?

In my encounters with Agile development, including the research that I'm doing now, I've seen two perspectives on the Agile methodology (pick whichever one you prefer):

  • Agile as a creed. One type of Agile enthusiast treats the methodology of choice as a set of firm guidelines, to be followed or ignored (at your peril). The closer you get to orthodoxy, as the Pharisees communicate by voice or in print, the better the results.
  • Agile as an ethos. The other species of Agile enthusiast sees the methodology as a guide to action. Perfect adherence to its principles are impossible in an imperfect world, so the goal is to add a healthy dose of Agile to the blend of different techniques and imperatives.

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A specter is haunting product management

You really, really should read Adam Bullied's recent post about the fundamentals of product management. I also give a big thumbs up to the idea of incorporating product management into undergrad and grad school curricula.

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Calling all PMs: Software as a service

We're also looking for PMs who have worked on software as a service (SaaS) products. If you've worked for a company that started with a SaaS product, or one that tried to move an on-premise application to SaaS, we want to talk with you.

Please drop me a line if you're interested. The interview should take about 30 minutes. (Unless you really need to talk.)

Calling all PMs: Agile

We're looking for product managers who have played a role in Agile development efforts. Specifically, we want to talk to both (1) PMs who have been in development groups that started with an Agile approach, and (2) PMs who were part of a transition to Agile within a larger organization.

If either description applies to you, in your current job or an earlier one, please drop me a line. The interview will last about 30 minutes.

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The research Inbox and Outbox

Recently published: "Beyond Innovation: Adding Adoption To Your Business Objectives."
This document started as a survey of technology industry professionals, asking them what they thought set this part of the economy apart from other verticals. The title of the piece reflects the conclusion, from taking a close look at the survey results. The punchline is, focusing on adoption can provide a powerful competitive advantage.

Coming soon: "Inquiry Insights: CRM Customers Focus On Business Processes, Not Technologies."
This document will be my inaugural piece about CRM. What does it have to do with product management? Quite a lot, both in how CRM does and does not factor into the sources of information for PMs. In this case, we looked at the questions we receive from customers implementing CRM systems. Obviously, these questions say a lot about the real needs of CRM customers.

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