I just received preliminary results back from my 2009 strategy professional survey, which is an annual survey of senior level technology marketers, strategists (people with “strategy” in their title) and C-level executives. This year, I decided to focus a good portion of the survey on the effects of the recession…My sense is that after the tech industry underwent a period of shock at the beginning of the year, conditions have stabilized, and tech companies have incorporated the marco-economic conditions into their strategy.We have 112 responses so far, but this may increase if we keep it in the field.
Following my papers on the future of software and the most recent one on the acquisition of SUN by Oracle, I continue to see signs that point in the direction of reducing the costs of application deployment. The first company that I talked to recently is Phurnace Software. Phurnace is specialized in the deployment of Java EE applications. The solution includes a discovery of the target environment, including the typical configuration settings. Then it does a validity check of all the settings, provide a "what if" sandbox to see the impact of setting changes, deploys automatically the application and finally provide a complete report on what was done. This is already very close to the complete "life cycle automation" concept that I think is the future of software applications. Then I talked to rPath: This is a very similar solution, but the end result is a run-time version of the application that can be deployed as an image on different platforms, from bare metal to virtual environments. rPath has already a number of followers in the ISV world, and is now looking at the enterprise one. Finally I also had a briefing with XebiaLabs in Holland, which appears as a direct competitor to Phurnace.
You just got out of the meeting with potential customers, and they're not big fans of your Big Idea. You were sure it was brilliant, but they just don't get it. Or they applaud the effort, but they think you're going approaching it from the wrong angle.
Here's the moment of truth when many projects go bad, and sometimes drag companies down with them. The crisis isn't unique to the technology industry--there's the cautionary tale of New Coke, after all, from a well-established industry that should have known better--but given the immaturity of the technology industry, and the plasticity of the work product, it happens quite often.
At this moment of truth, development teams choose from among the following responses:
Here's just the sort of diagram that you might find in a book about product management. Or maybe it could be something that the VP of Product Management presents to other groups in the company, to explain the PM team's strategy for understanding customer requirements.
OK, I lied. It's not a diagram from a product management or product marketing presentation. Here's the real version of the diagram, which comes from an article in the Small Wars Journal, the magazine for people in the business of fighting guerrillas and terrorists. The article's title is a bit of a mouthful: Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Collection Management in the Brigade Combat Team during COIN: Three Assumptions and Ten "A-Ha!" Moments on the Path to Battlefield Awareness.
I have just completed a benchmarking excercise where we invited various IT vendors to tell us about their Channel Incentive Operations as a basis for a research report we will publish in the summer. Many of the vendors we contacted were suprised that we do this type of research at all, but Forrester clients are getting used to this as we expand our library of reports for vendor strategists. Those vendors who did talk to us get, in return for their providing us highly-sensitive operating cost and headcount data, illuminating benchmark feedback so that they have an idea of how they operate compared to their peers. The feedback phase starts next week and we have 10 vendors in the benchmark so a good comparison can be made. The funniest interview was with a very high ranking executive of one vendor (so clearly, they thought it was important to talk to Forrester) who then had to tell me every five minutes, "I am sorry, we cannot give you that information" -- a total waste of his and my time.
In our prospecting for interviews, several vendors told us that they did not wish to participate in this excercise, which is reasonable, but nobody told us never to come back with another idea.
Later today, I'm doing a teleconference on how product teams can use social media to make smarter product decisions. The presentation is based on a three-part series I'll soon be publishing on this topic. Click here for details.
I remember being at Novell in the late 90's and feeling absolute hate emanating towards Microsoft. This was despite us all using many of their products internally - including Windows - Microsoft has some extremely good products (Excel is a case in point). Novell's hatred of Microsoft caused them to go on an irrational buying binge to assemble products (Wordperfect, DR DOS et al) and compete head-on with Microsoft. As we know, this didn't work - nobody can beat a bigger adversary by attacking them head on. Hatred created a flawed strategy that led to failure.
Of course you have to observe your competitors carefully. Frequently, you'll need to react to what they're doing. However, that's not the same thing as shadowing their every move.