We've just published our latest Vendor Positioning Review (VPR) benchmark of the IT management software market. This vendor-oriented report discusses how vendors market their solutions to you in collateral and on their Web sites. We focus on how well they talk Business Technology (BT) over IT — how well do they speak YOUR language. And we recognize how important B2B digital media has become in communicating with you — our most recent data shows that the percent of technology buyers that are most advanced in using social media, what we call the Creators and Critics, is nearly double that of the US consumer population in general.
The VPR report highlights a best practice (or two) in each of the categories that we evaluate.
In terms of providing you with social media facilities, the vendors are a mixture of active, indifferent and inactive. The good ones offer you a community Web page from their Home Page to access forums, join communities (even if only a support community) and see their blogs: kudos to BMC, CA, ManageEngine, newScale, Spiceworks and Splunk. EMC, HP Software, IBM Tivoli, Microsoft, Nimsoft, Quest and Symantec have the facilities as well but you need to be good to find them (who would think of looking under “About Symantec”?). ASG and Compuware aren’t there yet.
Building off of Tom Grant's post about Google Buzz earlier today, Google Buzz is an interesting case study about how winning market share is not just about having the first or the best product. It is often about having a product (including marketing and sales) that does the best job at getting users to use it and getting developers to create quality content.
Google knows this better than anyone, and which is why they just released a product that they hope will be easier to adopt than Twitter or Facebook. Google Buzz is not fully baked and its privacy settings are badly broken; however its intended audience already uses Gmail and just had this new tool literally dropped into their inboxes. Google is probably hoping to replicate its successful introduction of GChat, an instant messaging client that was substantially worse than any other when it was introduced in late 2005 but today enjoys widespread adoption because it is on by default for anyone logged into Gmail and was gradually improved.
Non-social products can survive with gradually declining market share for a number of years, and then potentially come back if users become convinced that their offering is superior. However a social media product without users is a ghost town, a phenomena that MySpace knows well as their CEO leaves today.
This is not a battle over who has the neatest features; it's a battle over who will be the most successful at capturing user time, an increasingly limited resource.
Therefore: Do you think the technical problems with Google Buzz, both privacy and other, are enough to stop it from gaining broad adoption, at least among existing Gmail users?
Many of the case studies you've seen me write about are B2C. But in the report on ROI of Social Media, I gathered data on B2B companies too. Here's a list of B2B communities.
Many people know Intel by their catch tune, "Inside Intel." And what's inside are the most amazing microprocessors that allow us to do great things back 25 years ago people could only imagine. Key to having been an innovator is always innovating. Intel- when they first came out with a new chip-- think back to the 286 processor and then transition to the 386. They met with some resistance in getting computer manufactuers to be interested in the chip. Why would you need more computing power?
So instead of staying stuck or ditching the product, Intel brought together a multidisciplinary team of individuals to tackle the problem. The net-net is that the team realized that its the end-user who is really their customer! when they went into computer shops and talked to the customers, they asked, "Would you like to be able to have many files open at once? Would you like to be able to run graphics programs, plays games, etc...." The customers responded positively with, "Of course we would!" That drove the computer store operators to tell the computer manufacturers to get those intel chips in their computers. Ah... I love that "voice of the customer" story.
But what I love more is that Intel innovated, why? Because they listened. That's a skill most companies don't have. And with social media, Intel has put their listening on dual processor tubro charged power. They know that their ability to innovate and lead the market is based on harnessing the power, knowledge and collaboration among customers, resellers, etc.. and Intel.
When we embarked on this project I wasn't sure if it would be a complete failure or a roaring success. Still, the optimist in me suggested it might work. The timing of launching the survey, just before the Christmas Holiday period was risky. However I'm pleased to say the results so far have been better than expected.
I've had the opportunity over the past year to work with a lot of banks and credit unions, insurance providers, and investment management firms. Marketers at financial services companies face a number of challenges other marketers don't -- most importantly, confusing and often ill-defined government regulations -- but yet I've been impressed with the social media efforts I've seen from many companies in this category.
I've decided to research and write a report on how financial services marketers can most effectively use social media. We'll be including lots of our data on how different types of financial customers engage with social media, of course -- but I'd also like to collect more insight from the marketers' perspective.
If you're a financial services marketer, and you're willing to walk us through examples of how you've used social media, talk to us about how you manage risk and work with your legal and compliance departments, and share with us some of the lessons you've learned in social media marketing, then we'd love to talk to you. You can contact me directly at: nelliott at forrester dot com. Thanks!
A hot topic of debate among customer management and business process thought leaders right now is ascertaining the business value of "social CRM." Social technologies are proliferating rapidly and three-quarters of US online adults now use social technologies in some form. Cutting through all the hype, my clients are challenged to make hard decisions about the level of investment they should make in Social Computing technologies like blogs, wikis, forums, customer feedback tools, social networking sites, and customer community platforms. And they want to know how these new capabilities should be, and can be, integrated with their transactional CRM systems.
We have just published a summary of our research and define the seven steps to success for strategizing, selecting, and deploying social CRM solutions:
Initiate social CRM experiments immediately. Define a near-term opportunity to apply social CRM ideas to a customer-facing challenge at your company. Build some practical experience that will break out of your of old mindsets. Refine your strategies later as new insights emerge. For example, 10 years ago, Electronic Arts recognized that could not cope with the anticipated tenfold increase in customer support inquiries as the result of launching large-scale online multiplayer games. No commercial solutions were available to help at the time, so Electronic Arts began experimenting and developing its own solutions. Trying new ideas and discarding the old, EA actively worked to gain hands-on experience by actively participating in the virtual worlds of its social game players.
Canadians with online access are active users of social technologies like blogs, forums, social networks, and user-generated content: According to our North American Technographics® Q3 2009 survey, 79% of online Canadians engage with social media at least once each month.