Posted by Chris Townsend on December 4, 2008
For those who don't know me, I work on the "Vendor Strategy" team at Forrester -- the research group that owns this blog. For my first post, I wanted to outline a major reason why I'm excited about posting on this blog.
The basic story is that now I can actually tell people what my work is all about. At Forrester, my research coverage focuses on topics such as Innovation Management and Business Services -- research which is then filtered and targeted for an audience of Vendor Strategists. To most people -- even Forrester clients -- this sounds like pure gibberish (and I don't blame them for thinking so). Finally, with this blog, I can actually explain what all of this nonsense-sounding jargon actually means to me. The possibilities are almost infinite -- and infinitely exciting.
It's good timing too, because communication challenges these days are significant and getting worse. The world is changing so fast that the cognitive gulf between different people seems wider by the day.
Even within Forrester, we have different teams that speak different languages. A major reason is that we focus on different constituencies (i.e., "roles") within the hi-tech marketplace. For instance, one of our research groups offers research for the "buy side" of tech-industry markets -- i.e., technology practitioners and enterprise buyers -- while another division (mine) offers research and advice for tech vendors, tech providers, and consultants (the "sell side"). As Forresterites, the pace of our research is so fast and fluid that clear dialogue across these groups can be dicey. In the toughest cases, it's a tricky triangulation problem just to ensure we've got shared background assumptions and terminology definitions. And then -- poof! -- we retreat back into our own buyer- and vendor-focused worlds.
Yet this challenge pales in comparison to communication with the outside world. On research interviews and briefings calls, I habitually spend more than 5 minutes just to explain my research interests clearly. More often than not, the interlocutor's assumptions are badly mistaken. Moreover, even when someone understands my motivations and interests, other snags come up -- for example, nearly irreconcilable definitions for "innovation." Although innovation is so broad as to be inherently hard to define, much of the problem stems merely from the deep chasms of understanding between people's viewpoints and perspectives. The more the Internet connects us all globally, the harder it makes it for us to connect meaningfully, deeply, or personally.
At least, that was my belief -- until I considered what I might write on this Vendor Strategy blog. Until now, my professional writing has been restricted to the crisp formality and analytical rigor of peer-reviewed Forrester research reports. As a result, I had no suitable outlet for less-than-rigorous thoughts about the marketplaces I cover. Yet I desperately need this channel -- not as a substitute for my research reports, but rather as a companion to them. All too often, I suffer for lack of a mechanism to explain the context and backstory behind the analysis in my reports. Now, FINALLY, I have this channel, and I'm excited for the possibilities it opens. I imagine a future that promises closer dialogue, closer knowledge sharing, and closer professional relationships. It's a wonderful opportunity, and one that I have every intention to use fully.
But I need help. The communication channel only works if the Forrester audience follows us in embracing it. Thus, for those of you who already follow my research closely -- on topics such as innovation management, crowdsourcing, on-demand services, platform-as-a-service, and business services -- here's your big chance. If you tune in to my posts by offering your thoughts and adding your comments, I'll reciprocate right back. I'll use your input to tailor the topics in my posts. In the process, I'll try to make sure you get useful context to better process what you read in my officially published work.
I'm hoping you'll be as excited by this opportunity as I am.