You may have noticed that I was, along with the other 1,100+ professionals at Forrester, out of the office this past week. We were all together in Boston talking about our success in 2010 (I can’t talk about that — you’ll have to wait for official results to be reported next week) and more importantly about Forrester’s Vision, Values, Strategies, and Tactics to help make our clients successful. We spent time both looking inward, thinking about how we think we can do better, and scanning the horizon by asking key clients who map themselves to each of our roles to talk about what they do every day and how they are recognized and rewarded within their own companies.
I left the meetings feeling jazzed that we were truly achieving success by putting our clients first and that we had a plan to extend and accelerate our ability to positively affect every leader and every decision. I also left the meetings with that tension all analysts get in their gut: What will this strategy look like in the future? How will our values change the market’s perception of Forrester? How will we be able to translate these intentions into actionable tactics to help each and every one of our clients? What better way to test the ideas than to ask you, dear readers, what you think; so, what do you think? Are we just drinking our own Kool-Aid? Or do we have the “five-hour energy” that every one of our clients hungers for to refine their strategies and accelerate their performance and success in the market? Please weigh in with your opinion of Forrester and our strategy — as well as your suggestions on how we can best help you to succeed — in the comments section.
Last week Verizon Wireless announced it will begin selling Apple’s iPhone 4 to customers in February 2011. The new relationship between Verizon Wireless and Apple terminates the exclusive relationship AT&T had with Apple since 2007 to distribute iPhones in the US. Verizon Wireless will be able to address pent-up demand for iPhones among existing customers, as well as from customers who switch from competitors such as Sprint and T-Mobile to gain access to these devices. The introduction of Verizon’s iPhone also impacts the competitive smartphone landscape, mobile application developers, network operators, and other participants in the mobility ecosystem. Details regarding the Verizon Wireless iPhone announcement are highlighted in the report “Verizon’s iPhone Sets The Battleground For iPhone 5,” written by my colleague Charles Golvin.
Verizon’s iPhone and AT&T’s iPhone will look and cost the same, however Verizon Wireless has not yet announced the cost of voice and data service for these devices. There are also key differences in Verizon’s iPhone, which have important implications on enterprise smartphone purchasing decisions. Verizon’s iPhone will not have a multimode chip, so these devices will only roam onto CDMA networks, which are used in Verizon’s network. CDMA network technology is not as common in other countries so firms with employees who travel internationally may find this to be a limitation. Also, the timeline for replacing corporate liable smartphone devices is often 18 months. Therefore, although Verizon Wireless will begin offering the iPhone 4 in February, enterprise smartphone contract renewal cycles may mean these devices do not make their way into the hands of employees for more than a year.
[For earlier posts in this series, click here and here.]
Imagine that you're dining at a new Italian restaurant that just opened in your neighborhood. You've heard that the chef is well known and widely respected, so you're expecting a great first experience.
You sit down, and the waiter hands you a menu. Actually, it's not a menu, but a listing of all the top-quality ingredients in the restaurant's refrigerator. Some ingredients suggest the kind of recipes that the chef might prepare: For example, the veal shank might be destined to become Osso Bucco. Since you're not an expert in Italian cuisine, it's hard to guess what kind of recipe might require some of the other ingredients (rabbit, goat, boar, etc.).
The waiter is no help. He'll dutifully return to the kitchen with the ingredients you tell him the chef should prepare, but he won't tell you if that combination will transform into a delicious meal or an indigestible lump.
In this scenario, chances are slim that you'll get the sort of dining experience you expected. If you were hoping for an experience you've never had before, the kind that a world-class chef could provide, the odds are even worse.
Sadly, this is exactly the way in which technology companies have pitched their products. Rather than explaining the experience you should have, they leave it up to you to figure out what experience might be possible, given the ingredients (features and functions) available in the product. This approach has two pernicious consequences:
Politics is a word that we use so loosely that it risks losing meaning altogether. When we talk about office politics, as some recent posts by product management bloggers, we're usually expressing scorn for odious behaviors that stand in the way of some rational course of action. Every organization is susceptible to politics, in this negative sense, including every development team. Better to assume it, or even take advantage of it when possible, than to pretend that some magic tool or methodology will do away with politics.
Can't Live With Politics. Can't Live Without Politics
In their blogs, both Jim Holland and Jennifer Doctor recounted a session about politics at a recent Product Camp in Seattle. The topic struck a nerve, as evidenced by the outpouring of complaints from the audience. We've all heard them, whether we're product managers or not: Empire builders put themselves ahead of the interests of the group; real decisions happen in a back channel, instead of in the open; teams decide in haste, and repent at leisure . . . It sounds as if this session was as therapeutic for the audience as it was informative.