HP's Acquisition Of Palm: InfoWorld Should Read Its Own Articles

Within 24 hours, InfoWorld published two seemingly unrelated articles. One covered HP's announcement of its intent to acquire Palm, which led people to speculate aloud, "What the heck were they thinking?" The first part of the article spent a couple of paragraphs musing about how this move might or might not help HP's interest in the slate computer market. The path from acquiring Palm to becoming an iPad competitor isn't very clear, however, so maybe the real point has nothing to do with slate computers. We can't get enough of talking about slate computers, but what if Palm's products have some potential connection to HP's existing portfolio? Crazy idea, I know.

The next day, InfoWorld published another article with the acidic headline, "Smartphone management becoming a nightmare":

Smartphones and mobile devices are becoming a nightmare for IT shops to manage, with users carrying multiple types of phones with different operating systems and expecting access to email, video-conferencing, and various types of corporate applications.

In other words, IT departments struggling with these standardization efforts might want to talk to a company that can help. Say, someone with a lot of products and services for solution areas like cloud computing, application transformation, portfolio and asset management. It'd be great if said vendor had mobile technology that factored into these larger IT infrastructure concerns.

Oh, yeah...

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HP's Acquisition Of Palm: InfoWorld Should Read Its Own Articles

Within 24 hours, InfoWorld published two seemingly unrelated articles. One covered HP's announcement of its intent to acquire Palm, which led people to speculate aloud, "What the heck were they thinking?" The first part of the article spent a couple of paragraphs musing about how this move might or might not help HP's interest in the slate computer market. The path from acquiring Palm to becoming an iPad competitor isn't very clear, however, so maybe the real point has nothing to do with slate computers. We can't get enough of talking about slate computers, but what if Palm's products have some potential connection to HP's existing portfolio? Crazy idea, I know.

The next day, InfoWorld published another article with the acidic headline, "Smartphone management becoming a nightmare":

Smartphones and mobile devices are becoming a nightmare for IT shops to manage, with users carrying multiple types of phones with different operating systems and expecting access to email, video-conferencing, and various types of corporate applications.

In other words, IT departments struggling with these standardization efforts might want to talk to a company that can help. Say, someone with a lot of products and services for solution areas like cloud computing, application transformation, portfolio and asset management. It'd be great if said vendor had mobile technology that factored into these larger IT infrastructure concerns.

Oh, yeah...

Conference Call Next Week: Metrics By PM, About PM, With Me And Saeed Khan

Next Wednesday, May 5th, fellow product management/product marketing blogger and Informatica PM Saeed Khan and I will be having a conversation, live via teleconference, about the two sides of PM metrics:

  • Metrics by PM. What are the important metrics about a tech vendor's business and technology that should PM maintain? This question strikes at the heart of PM's core responsibilities, making sure that a tech vendor's products and services help its business, and vice versa.
  • Metrics about PM. Want to start a lively conversation? Ask product managers and product marketers about the metrics used to measure their performance and contribution. These metrics do more than just point PMs in the direction of quarterly goals. They also communicate within the company the value of what PM does.

Saeed always has sharp insights on these sorts of topics (which is why you should be a regular reader of the On Product Management blog, by the way). This call is a real conversation, not a one-way blabfest, so we're definitely looking for your questions and comments during the call. Expect a mix of observations about the state of PM in the tech industry, as well as best practices developed through hard experience.

The call is scheduled for next Wednesday, May 5th, from 8:30 to 9:30 PDT / 11:30 to 12:30 EDT. If you're interested in attending, send an e-mail to Steve Davidson (sdavidson@forrester.com), who runs the Technology Product Management & Marketing Council here at Forrester. Look forward to talking with you next week.

HP’s Acquisition Of Palm Is Not A Match Made In Heaven

HP acquired Palm for $1.2 billion in cash, ending recent speculation over who would purchase the struggling handheld device manufacturer. On the surface, this acquisition appears to bolster HP’s mobility strategy with Palm’s webOS mobile operating system, carrier relationships, experienced mobility personnel, and intellectual property.  

However, if you look under the hood, this acquisition has a key flaw. HP currently offers iPAQ PDAs and handsets that use Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system, but these devices have had limited success among enterprise users. Will acquiring Palm put HP in a strong position against other competitive mobile operating systems vendors? Not necessarily. In Forrester’s survey of over 1,000 IT decision makers in North American and European enterprises, only 12% of firms officially support or manage Palm devices. In comparison, 70% of enterprises support BlackBerry smartphones, and 29% support Apple iPhones. Android devices, the newest entrants in the mobile OS wars, have strong momentum and are officially supported by 13% of firms.

HP did gain some important assets as part of the acquisition. Palm's carrier relationships are a plus, and HP can leverage its strong international distribution channel to expand the reach of these mobile devices on an international level. Palm’s highly skilled employees, mobile operating system R&D expertise, and intellectual property are also a benefit. In the short term, HP’s acquisition gave Palm a new lease on life, but given the intensely competitive mobile device landscape, HP’s $1.2 billion investment may not pay off in the long term.

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Insights From A Panel Of B2B Marketing Powerhouses That Convened Last Week At Forrester’s Marketing Forum

Last week at Forrester’s Marketing Forum, I had the pleasure of sitting three rows back from a panel discussion comprised of a who’s who of B2B marketing executives: Chris Bradshaw, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Autodesk; James K. Cornell, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Prudential Retirement; Deborah Nelson, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Enterprise Business, Hewlett-Packard; Marjorie Tenzer, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, IBM Americas, IBM.  The panel was moderated by Forrester’s own Peter Burris, Principal Analyst and Research Director. 

Here’s 45 minutes of discussion distilled into four key takeaways:

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VMware And salesforce.com Join Forces To Push PaaS To Mainstream Adoption With vmforce

VMware And salesforce.com Join Forces To Push PaaS To Mainstream Adoption With vmforce

salesforce.com and VMware announced today the development of a joint product and service offering named vmforce. Forrester had a chance to talk to executives at both companies prior to the announcement, and I am quite impressed by the bold move of the two players. Most developers in corporate environments and ISVs perceive the two stacks as two totally different alternatives when selecting a software platform. While the VMware stack, with its Tomcat-based Spring framework, reached mainstream popularity among Java developers with its more lightweight standard Java approach, salesforce.com’s Force.com stack was mostly attractive to developers who liked to extend CRM packaged apps with individual business logic or to ISVs that created new applications from scratch. In some cases, the Java standard and the more proprietary APEX language at Force.com even appeared as competitive options.

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Agile Adoption Says Good Things About Businesses In Tough Times

As we've discussed before, Agile adoption swelled in the last one or two years, diving into the mainstream of how businesses build and deliver value to customers. (You can definitely say that Agile is mainstream if there's more than a one-third chance that, in your next job in a development team, you'll be following Agile practices.) At a time when the public perception of companies has taken a brutal beating, that outcome is a genuine compliment to many businesses.

When the economic storm clouds gathered, companies might have battened down the hatches, sticking to the most tried-and-true ways of doing business. The recession might have been the strongest argument against disruptive changes, once the economic margin of error became a lot smaller. A business process as critical as product development might have been the last thing anyone wanted to tinker with.

Therefore, Agile presented just the kind of disruptive change that organizations might have avoided. It doesn't work unless organizations embrace new values and procedures. These changes ripple throughout the organization, especially in the technology industry, where the technology is the business, not just a business accelerator. Every team must figure out how to chart its own Agile course, usually leading to an idiosyncratic mix of Agile and non-Agile methods. None of these changes will be easy.

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Agile Poses the Boss-Level PM Challenge

While there might not be a single correct formula for fitting product management into an Agile setting, there's one inescapable rule: Prepare to have your PM skills put to the test.

Recently, I was speaking with Barry Paquet of Quantum Whisper, a small firm that has a tool designed to help PMs with these Agile-related challenges. To the right, you'll see one of the slides from Barry's presentation. The message is pretty self-evident: if your company is going to take the "voice of the customer" part of Agile seriously, PM must keep a lot of plates spinning. Feedback loops in Agile development don't run themselves—someone has to be on top of the collection, analysis, validation, communication, and review. With Agile, these activities are happening nearly constantly.

While any PM who has a passion for building good products should welcome this change, it also can be a little scary. In my own research and advisory work on Agile adoption in tech industry companies, I've heard some PMs express no small anxiety about this new model. In part, they're worried that the company might not support or even understand this process fully. However, they also experience some dark nights of the soul about whether the have the skills and experiences needed to play that sort of role. Here are a few common concerns:

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The Decade of Management Consulting Innovation

Gary Hamel states in his famous book "The Future of Management" that management  has become a maturing technology that has evolved rapidly in the first half of the 20th century and now reached a local peak. I found this intriguing and since I started my research into the consulting services market it has been the maxim of my work.

My journey began in 2008 with doing extensive research on the evolution of management over the past 100 years. We identified the key management paradigms and models and defined what a paradigm and model in management basically is. This analysis led to the first report "Innovating Strategic Management Paradigms And Models To Thrive Amid Global Change". At this time however, we focused primarily on industry and academia-driven paradigms and models.

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Razorfish shows clients how Agile services work

A disproportionate amount of the discussion about Agile in the technology industry centers on product development. However, services are an inevitable part of the Agile story. Here are a few examples:

  • Consulting teams have to adapt to rapid iterations of new core technology. In other words, the professional services arm has to keep pace with the product development team.
  • Services are a source of value that gets folded into the product. For this process of productization to work at all, the consulting and development teams need to speak the same language, share common expectations about development processes and deliverables, and work at a similar pace.
  • Agile consulting teams have to work with customers who aren't conversant with Agile. You might be excited about working at an Agile pace, but your client may have no idea what you're talking about.

That last scenario is a common source of frustration for clients. In place of dense project plans, clients often get a sketchier picture of how the project will proceed. Of course, both client and customer know that, the more complex and detailed the project plan is, the less likely it is to accurately predict what's going to happen. As mythical as the project plans can be, there's something reassuring to clients about having them. At the very least, they provide leverage when the consultants don't deliver.

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