If Only We Had Done X (Lessons In Project Management)

How many of you have managed consulting projects that didn’t turn out as planned and left you saying, “If only we had done . . .” ? Have you ever wondered how many steps and criteria are involved in successful consulting projects? And do you know how to avoid project failures?

In an upcoming research report, “Five Stages To Optimize The Research Process,” Forrester will lay out the five key stages, 30-plus key steps, and 130-plus key criteria identified in successful consulting projects. Not all criteria are equal and required for every project, but miss some key criteria and project steps and you could have a project crisis (or expensive failure) on your hands.

Some highlights for each of the key project stages:

  • Preparing. We identified 33 key criteria that help MI professionals avoid rushing into the project design without having a clear idea of potential gains and risks, timelines, and threats and how they will prove value-add.
  • Designing. Forrester found 36 key criteria to help build successful project designs. Some of the most overlooked were identifying all the stakeholders, their expectations, capabilities, and timing so that deliverables were designed from the start to be stakeholder-aligned.
  • Implementing.From finalizing scope to RFPs, final project plans, and kick-offs, Forrester found 27 criteria involved in making sure your project gets off on the right foot. Like creating a deliverable template that matches the goal and making sure that everyone is on the same page with what they need to do by when so that you don’t crash your timelines.
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Did Social Media Predict The Super Bowl? No.

Although most of my Cambridge-based colleagues don't want to bring it up, last night's Super Bowl was exactly the spectacle we've come to expect from the nation's most-watched event. We saw hundreds of new commercials (some good and many bad), a crazy half-time show (with a random tightrope walker), and one other thing . . . what was that? Oh, yeah, a football game.

In the weeks leading up to the game, I noticed a trend around the game itself. Dozens of blog posts and news articles claiming they could predict the Super Bowl winner using social media. Although most of these were fluff pieces to fill a slow news week and capitalize on the nation's renewed interest in the NFL, my research skepticism kicked into overdrive with some of them. Not to call anyone out directly, but with all of the PR teams sending me press releases about "predicting" the outcome, I just can't let this slide. So, can social media predict the outcome of the Super Bowl? No.

Each of these predictions came from collecting and analyzing social data. Some predictions came from simple metrics like the volume of mentions around one team against the other. A few of the predictions used the sentiment of mentions — such as a positive mention for the Patriots versus a negative mention for the Giants. And some predictions even used influence calculations to understand how different market segments discussed their favorite teams. In the end, this means that some of the predictions were right and some were wrong. But hey, it was a 50/50 shot anyway. Even with coin-flip odds, it seems that more than half were wrong . . . but that actually distracts from my argument, because even if they guessed right, they were wrong to do so.

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Facebook Or Google: Who Will Win the Customer Engagement Battle?

Plenty’s been written already about Facebook’s IPO filing yesterday. I won’t rehash the many excellent analyses that you’ve surely already seen.

Instead, I want to take this blog post into thought-experiment territory. I want to think about a world in which Google and Facebook are primary competitors in a mano-a-mano battle—not just for our eyeballs, but for our data, too. For the right, as it were, to be our “digital identity.”


Over the holidays, my mother—67 year old tech-accepter, Kindle-owner, smartphone-avoider—called me into the office to show me her Facebook newsfeed. “How,” she asked, “do they know that I’m interested in Persian classical music and that I live in Los Angeles?” As I was explaining behavioral targeting and computational advertising, I glanced over at the computer, only to see her click through and order tickets from that Facebook ad.

So I asked, “Do you trust Facebook?” To which she replied, “Of course not!” as she entered her credit card number, home address, and email address for a very spendy concert ticket.

“Do you trust Google?” I asked. “More than Facebook, I suppose,” she answered. “But Facebook shows me stuff I like more often than Google does.” 


That experience, plus a brainstorm with my colleagues on the Customer Intelligence team here at Forrester got me thinking: What if, as a consumer, you had to choose between Facebook and Google? Which service is more valuable to you? Which will BE more valuable in the future? I decided to compare the competitors (and let there be no mistake—Facebook’s S-1 filing very clearly identifies Google as Enemy No. 1) across the dimensions of Forrester’s customer engagement cycle:


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