After the past few months of immersing myself in vendor briefings, demos, customer interviews, scoring methodologies, and writing, I am pleased to announce that the long-awaited Forrester Wave™: Social Depth Platforms, Q3 2013 has been published! We included nine vendors in this Wave and evaluated them across 57 criteria to help marketers select the right technology partner to manage their social activities on their own branded website, microsite, or online community.
Social media has transformed the way that buyers discover, explore, and engage with a brand. As a result, many marketers have invested in establishing a presence on popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter yet are struggling with how to convert interactions on these social networks to a purchase. This is where social depth marketing comes in — by driving people to your own web properties, you can provide credible and current details on your products and services. And social features such as your own blog, ratings and reviews, discussion boards, online communities, and other types of user-generated content can inform and influence a purchase decision. We call these technologies and platforms "social depth platforms":
Social depth platforms are technologies that add social content and experiences to marketing sites.
Forrester research compares frequently capabilities of software vendors and cloud platforms in our Forrester Waves™. John Rymer and James Staten recently published the comparison of Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms. I am currently researching such a Forrester Wave™ around Hybrid² Integration capabilities. This is the integration between cloud and on-premise and across different traditional integration tools.
However, all these Forrester Waves™ have one significant gap. They all start with a product or service offering by a vendor or (cloud) service provider. Analysts at Forrester Research investigate for sure if the vendor statements are real, watch demos and we try out products on our own before we write about it. One part of the Forrester Wave™ process is also customer interviews, which validate that product features work in reality. All criteria, scores and notes are published to our clients, not only a final PDF.
So where's the gap in such a thorough process? Well, the starting point is always the capabilities that product vendors and service providers claim – never the actual challenge withing the enterprises! I was not aware of any assessment or competition, which really starts here – with a real client challenge and project! Maybe one enterprise ends up using a unique combination of different products and cloud services.
IBM didn't just pick up a hosting company with their acquisition of SoftLayer this week, they picked up a sophisticated data center operations team -- one that could teach IBM Global Technical Services (GTS) a thing or two about efficiency when it comes to next-generation cloud data centers. Here's hoping IBM will listen.
Last month, I published an update to my 2011 Forrester Wave™ on talent management because the human resource management (HRM) market has experienced tremendous consolidation and many top-rated vendors have become part of other very large organizations. I defined “talent management” as encompassing performance, learning, succession planning, and career development. When I published my current Wave in March 2013, I continued to call it the “Talent Management Wave.” This has caused confusion, because in the past two years, the word “talent management” has morphed to include recruiting, which also has seen incredible growth and change. As the Wave is a deep dive into more than criteria and focuses on 10 vendors, I could not include recruiting within the parameters of the Wave. Recruiting is also very different, with many integrations with small boutique vendors that provide important services. But the questions kept coming: “Where is recruiting?”
I decided that the title, not the content, was the problem. Therefore, this Wave has a new, more representative, title: “The Forrester Wave: Learning And Talent Development, Q1 2013.” This title better describes my effort to showcase the suite vendors that own both performance (often including succession and career development) and learning applications and have devoted tremendous energy and resources to unify the two applications (with various degrees of success). Ideally, this means that a manager can identify an employee knowledge gap and, right from the performance app, select the best learning opportunity that will address the gap, and the activity or course appears on the employee’s individual learning plan. These applications look and feel like one application.
In 2011, my colleague James Staten and I published two light-weight vendor assessments on the private cloud and public cloud market. These solutions sit at the extremes of the IaaS market. To kick off 2013, I published a full vendor evaluation of a market that sits in between these two IaaS deployment types — hosted private cloud. Forrester's Forrsights Hardware Survey, Q3 2012 showed that 46% of enterprises are prioritizing investments in private clouds in 2013. While slightly more than half plan to build a private cloud in their own data center, more than 25% said they prefer to rent one. Hosted private cloud opens the door to a variety of benefits: 1) You reach cloud from day one. 2) Compute is dedicated from other clients. 3) It can enable future hybrid scenarios. 4) Easier-to-meet licensing and compliancy requirements. 5) Outsourcing the setup of the cloud and management of the infrastructure to focus on support and utilization.
Overall this report revealed no leaders, but it did show some strengths and weaknesses across the market and provide framework and sample criteria to assess vendors within this space. This research process also revealed some unexpected nuances within this space:
Hosted private cloud and virtual private cloud are often used interchangeably within the market — despite being distinct deployment types.
Level and method of dedication varies greatly by solution.
Layers managed differ greatly by solution.
Although agility is a benefit, few enable self-service access to resources to its end users. Ticket-based request systems are common.
Many enterprises are using hosted private cloud for some unexpected advantages:
Over 40% of business technology decision-makers indicate that support forums, discussion forums, and professional social networks influence them throughout their online journey. Yet many marketers overlook the impact of the conversations that occur within these networks.
Chances are your company has an online community that requires your attention. Whether you have a support forum on your corporate website, a company page on LinkedIn, or a brand page on Facebook, somewhere there is a community of customers, partners, and influencers that is talking about your brand.
It is up to you to take advantage of this opportunity to interact with your community members, but it requires a new marketing mindset. It requires a shift from traditional media creation to social capital creation. It requires an ability to engage and motivate influencers. It also requires time, energy, and commitment from you and the stakeholders within your organization.
It is difficult to ignore the impact that community interactions have on decision-makers. But why do online communities often fail? We speak to many clients who struggle with establishing their communities and found five common mistakes:
1. Choosing the wrong approach. Communities are not a “one size fits all” strategy for customer engagement. Companies must understand how and where their customers and prospects prefer to engage online and the types of activities that will drive member participation.