This blog, written by Forrester CEO George Colony, contains ideas, observations, and analyses to help drive the success of other CEOs. George’s goal is to assist today’s company leaders in forming unique approaches to the challenges they face. Read George’s biography.
On Thursday, Forrester announced that it bought JupiterResearch for $23 million in cash. Bringing the two companies together has been a dream of mine since the 1990s -- Jupiter always had incisive analysts, influential clients, and always seemed to be ahead of the next trend -- and it always seemed like a cultural match for Forrester (OK, I'll admit it -- they were probably much cooler than us...)
It's pretty simple why we bought Jupiter. Marketing and strategy executives are probably the most challenged by technology changes. I was with the head of marketing for a major national newspaper recently who said to me: "...given Facebook, blogs, YouTube, Craig's List, we don't know what will be in the future -- we have no idea." Forrester serves these executives -- and adding JupiterResearch's analysts, salespeople, and service people to this effort will help us help our clients even more -- and it will mean that we can grow that business faster.
Quickly: Cisco's high-definition video conferencing TelePresence system will change how large companies communicate.
Last week I avoided a trip to California by having my one-day meeting with Cisco leadership via TelePresence. This is the company's next generation video conferencing. It features high-definition video, exceptional sound, and specialized rooms with the conferenced individuals "sitting" around a table with the live participants -- the pic shows my team in Boxborough MA conversing with John Chamber's team in San Jose CA. Everyone is life-sized, and the experience is a close emulation of an in-person meeting. Cisco has deployed 240 systems worldwide and has staged 120,000 meetings -- for a claimed cost savings and productivity gain of $150 million. The company calculates that it eliminated 24 million cubic feet of carbon emissions as a result.
When a new technology was introduced in the 1980's, my then Yankee Group boss Dale Kutnick would cryptically remark, "It's happening." But most of the "happening" was incremental, without much impact on society or culture.
25 years after "The computer moved in" (fascinating retrospective reading) all of that incremental digital change has accumulated. And the many water drops of progress have created a tidal force that, in its essence, is making things go away...
Quickly: Gates's monopolistic business practices created a significant benefit for technology users -- a set of standards that greatly streamlined communications and work.
I've grown up with and lived with Bill Gates as the most influential technology leader of the era. Even though he has been slowly backing out of Microsoft for the last five years, his actual July 1, 2008 departure from the company is a milestone worth reflecting on.
What is his single most important legacy? The ability, through monopolistic business practices, to make Microsoft's products global, de facto standards for business and consumers. This created a standard ecosystem of documents, spreadsheets, printer drivers, programs, browsers, and operating systems which enabled people to communicate in a single "language" -- greatly easing the inherent limitations of computer systems.
Quickly: IT/BT executives should ensure that their goals align with the CEO's.
Forrester's IT Forum was in Las Vegas last week. Great time, with over 1,500 clients and sponsors on-site. Highlights for me were John Chambers of Cisco jumping off the stage into the audience to sell his vision and an amazingly elegant dinner for over 1,000 at the very cool Tao Club in the Venetian.
I kicked off the proceedings with a ten minute talk entitled "CEO Success Imperatives." Whenever I meet with a CEO I ask a simple question: "What do you, as the CEO, have to do to be successful?" Here are the seven themes that emerged from my CEO research:
1) Getting, keeping, building the best people. "I hire 15 people every hour. I want the best." 2) Engendering collaboration. "If HP could only harness the knowledge of HP." 3) Reaching global markets 4) Increasing profit. "HP makes $12 million per hour but spends $11 million per hour. I want to change that proportion." 5) Building a positive culture. "I want a company culture that is viewed positively from the inside and from the outside." 6) Customers, customers, customers 7) Driving innovation. "I want to figure out how to break linearity."
Quickly: The Internet will squeeze broadcasters into a slim niche.
I've often wondered whatever happened to two parts of public discourse: 1) eloquent speeches, and 2) truth-telling. I have been helping my son study American history and the other night we read two famous statements from the debates surrounding the 1850 Compromise: John C. Calhoun's defense of the South and Daniel Webster's response. Both men spoke in passionate but reasoned phrases -- one threatening secession, the other advocating union. Marvelous reading.
Quickly: It's good for Microsoft that it didn't buy Yahoo -- now it has to reform itself.
Steve Ballmer unintentionally dodged a bullet today when the Yahoo/Microsoft deal collapsed. Yahoo + Microsoft would have been a disaster -- the best and the brightest from Yahoo would have gone to Google, the culture clash would have been destructive, it would have put Microsoft back in the sights of the regulators. And Yahoo wouldn't have helped Microsoft with its biggest task at hand -- adapting to the emerging executable Internet software model.
The thesis: "...we have been turned loose in the industrial age equipped with the brain of prehistoric times." Simply stated, most human beings are terrible at managing complex systems. Dorner's students run a model of a small fictitious African village -- changing variables like cattle stocks, food stores, arable land. Invariably the students kill off the entire "population" through their miss-planning
As it turns out, good managers of complex systems showed common approaches:
At the Forrester Marketing Forum in LA, held on April 8-9, I gave a short presentation on my first two months of blogging. Many of the marketing executives in attendance are urging their CEOs to blog -- I thought my early impressions might prepare them for CEO reactions. Here goes:
Number One: "No one is reading my blog -- my out-sized ego can't take it." Prepare your CEO for a slow audience build.
Number Two: "Once a week? I'm too busy trying to run the company to do this." Yes, one post a week may only take a few hours -- but "...getting into the conversation" -- reading and commenting at other blogs -- what all experienced bloggers urge you to do, will double the time required.
Number Three: "The technology sucks." Blogging technology is shockingly crude. Get ready to give your CEO tech support -- even around the fundamentals like getting a picture into a post.
Number Four: "I'm not getting anything back." This is the corrollary to Number One. I often feel like I'm on a one-way phone conversation -- I talk, but there's no one listening. I lust for value-filled comments that will improve and drive my ideas. With time, they will come.