My View: Web 2.0 And The CEO

August 6, 2007
My View: Web 2.0 And The CEO
by George F. Colony

Quickly: Six things about marketing in the world of Web 2.0 that the CEO should know.

I often get to sit down with large company CEOs to talk about new technology. These days, the topic of conversation frequently turns to Web 2.0 — how to sell insurance, or aircraft parts, or cars when the 30-second TV spot and the one-page newspaper ad are dying. Here's what I tell them:

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The Decline of Serial Media

In the future, no major media will be serial. When I say "serial" I refer to media that starts at A and runs to B, with limited control from the user. It's content that forces a listener/reader/watcher to sit and, for the most part, passively follow. Examples of serial media include: podcasts, satellite radio, terrestrial radio, movies, broadcast television, paper newspapers (sort of).

Why will serial media fade? Because consumers are changing from listeners to adept conversers. The Web has acclimated them to ultimate control (I'll go when and where I want to) and to participation. Ever wonder why TV watchers flip so much? Because they are looking for what they want, not what CBS wants to show them. Their attention span is short, and their appetite for choice is too high to bear passivity.

This trend will put increasing pressure on the serialists like XM/Sirius, NBC, Fox, Clear Channel, The New York Times, and Time Warner to accelerate their transformation. 


For years I have written notes to Forrester clients about technology, business, and the future -- this blog will now carry many of those thoughts. Why "Counterintuitive?" My earliest mentor, Howard Anderson, founder of the Yankee Group, taught me that the most valuable analysis looks at the world in new ways -- questioning prevailing sentiment. I've got three "counters" in mind for this blog: 1) The lunch counter. I want to stimulate a commonsensical conversation about complex ideas -- in the simple language of the diner. 2) Counting. I will be surfacing lots of Forrester data that challenges common beliefs. 3) the conventional intuition.

Thanks to one of my favorite diners in the world, the Peterborough Diner in Peterborough, New Hampshire

I will seek to serve four roles: CEOs, Chief Information Officers, Chief Marketing Officers, and Strategy Professionals.

This is a test. I aspire to originate valuable analysis and conversations at this blog. If not, I'll find a different medium.


My View: The Digitizer

My View: The Digitizer
From: George F. Colony, CEO, Forrester Research
Date: May 7, 2004

Quickly: Steve Jobs is still important.

Content: Damn, I hate to be wrong! And it’s time to come clean . . . .

The story of the technology industry and the parables of two men, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, have been inextricably entwined during the past 25 years. They started out as dreamers who had visions of how personal computers would change the world – and they dedicated their careers to making it happen.

Their paths diverged in the late 1980s. Gates was well on his way to building one of the most lucrative and tightly controlled monopolies in the history of modern capitalism. Jobs was being ignominiously tossed out of the company he had founded. Jobs’ eccentricities (from his control-freak tendencies to his erratic management style) had converged to make him professionally unpalatable. The ill-fated NeXT, with its revenge-driven strategy, further confirmed that Jobs was a nonfactor -- a has-been from the bygone years of homebrew whimsicality, stuck in an era of corporate, enterprise-focused technology.

My thought at the time: “Good riddance.” Forrester’s focus on how $1 billion-plus companies use technology enabled me to write off NeXT and Apple as diversions, insignificant to the enterprise business that we analyzed every day.

It was the mid-1990s. Apple was disappearing. Steve Jobs was irrelevant. And few noncult members wept.

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