Consumer Market Research Techniques: A Primer For IT Professionals

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

Employees are people, too.They just don't look like you. At least most of them don't. To understand what your workforce needs from technology and from you, you have to walk a mile in their shoes.

That's hard to do -- not to mention darn uncomfortable at times! But it is possible to get to know your workforce by grouping them by who they are and what they need from you. There are three techniques that consumer market researchers have developed over the last 40 years to do just that:

  1. Surveys to analyze and segment the workforce. This is step one and something that we'll drill into more detail on over the next few blog posts. Asking good questions, making sure everybody's represented, doing analysis that helps you answer your key questions, this is where the best analysis begins. You'll come up with segments like "technology enthusiasts" and "road warriors."

  2. Focus groups to bring the segments to life. Once the segments are identified, you can invite 5 or 6 people to come in and talk about what they do and what they need from technology. This gives you the "why" and the "how" to go along with the "what" that the survey and segmentation provide. With focus groups, a road warrior starts to look like a real person.

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Survey Your Workforce To Understand Their Technology Needs

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

Go to a baseball game and look around. Do the fans all look like you? Do they want what you want or think how you think or feel the way you feel about stuff? Nope. Baseball fans are diverse, unique, different, special. They have only one thing in common: They like baseball.

It's the same at work. Your workforce is just as diverse, unique, different, special. They have only one thing in common: They work for the same organization.

It's a simple but profound observation: Most people aren't like you. You can't apply your own thinking or feeling to them. For example, they don't necessarily like technology. They might avoid technology because it scares or mystifies them. They could stick with what they know until someone forces them to switch.

Need proof? Half of all information workers are pessimistic about technology. Only 1 in 4 uses instant messaging. 62% aren't fully satisfied with their word processor.

On the other hand, the other half of information workers are optimistic about technology. And some employees are wildly enthusiastic about technology. They bring their own smartphones to work -- and use them to work from every location. They use social network sites for work. They spends hours each day in love with their work devices and tools.

But which employees are enthusiastic and which are reluctant users of technology? After all, they aren't all in one job function or business group. The list of questions goes on:

  • How can you be sure your software licenses aren't money wasted?

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Office 2010 Backstage: Content + Context = Collaboration

 Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

Microsoft announced more details on Office 2010 today. It's a healthy release from my perspective: more, simpler, better, faster, cleaner. But there's an interesting new thing that Microsoft has introduced with this release. They call it "Backstage," but it might be easier to think of it as the context of the document -- everything you need know about it and everything that you can do with it.

At the highest level, Backstage is all the stuff you do once the document has been created: save it, print it, email it, etc. It's also all of the metadata associated with the document: permissions, version history, etc. This makes it much easier for teams to collaborate on documents and for documents to be part of a workflow or business process.

It looks like this:

Backstage

So why does this matter? Three reasons:

  1. The "context" of the document as visible as the contents of the document. It's as if the book just got a cover, a card catalog label, and an availability tracker. Wow. Metadata that matters to anyone who's looking for the document.

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Calculating The Fully Loaded Costs Of Corporate Email: It's Bigger Than You Think

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

Since colleague Chris Voce and I published a pair of reports on corporate email in the cloud (one on the infrastructure and operations and one on the cost of running email on-premises or in the cloud), we have had dozens of discussions with our clients accompanied by detailed cost analyses of the true cost of running email on-premises versus running it in the cloud.

While the cloud-based cost of email is pretty transparent (many providers, including Microsoft and Google, publish their per-user per-month costs), the cost of running email on-premises is often a big mystery to everyone, including most CIOs. The big challenge is that the costs are spread throughout the budget: some in the hardware budget, some in the software budget, some in the storage budget, some in the cost of capital budget, some in the staffing budgets, and so on.

After dozens of these discussions and after a survey of 53 information & knowledge management professionals to ask about the cost of email, it is abundantly clear that few firms know their true cost of running email on-premises. And this matters if you're considering a move to cloud-based email.

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Sun Learning Exchange: Indeed, What If Work Meant Community?

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

In early June, Sun Microsystems announced the Sun Learning Exchange. This is a commercial offering that borrows directly from Sun's own experiments, experience, and expositions on learning. We've written about this in a Forrester report: Tap The Potential Of "YouTube For The Enterprise," and now it's available to others.

Sun's CTO of Learning, Charles Beckham, has tapped his experience as a Java entrepreneur (he was part of the team that built one of the first J2EE application servers, NetDynamics) and bent it to the challenges of on-the-job learning. In an interview with Charles last fall, we came away convinced that his just-enough, wisdom of the crowds, power of video approach to learning was important.

 

Three things anchor the Sun Learning Exchange:

  1. The power of all employee-generated media, including video, audio, and blogs.
  2. A learning platform that is minimally invasive and maximally open to social contribution.
  3. A metric on social contributions to drive participation.
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Google Wave: Surfing The Future Of Collaboration

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

Google is a remarkable company. Need proof? Just consider how reliant we are on Google Maps to find our way around the world. That didn't happen by accident. It happened because Google empowered a couple of brothers, Lars and Jens Rasmussen, to open up the developer APIs to the mapping engine.

These same two brothers announced yesterday at Google I/O developer conference a new technology for communication and collaboration. This new collaboration engine unites email, instant messaging, blogs, wikis into a single hosted conversation. Check out the demo here and the announcement here.

These conversations or "Waves" take place inside Safari, Firefox, or Chrome and look like email on steroids. (Lars said that they took the 40-year old model of email and redesigned it for today's Web-based world.) But it's way more than that. With Google Wave, Google has:

  • Opened a new path to reinvent how we collaborate. You have to see it to understand, but why would you need four products when one Wave will do? It's a new conversational metaphor that will also easily support document-based collaboration.

  • Put the code base into open source to attract investment. Google will attract the best and brightest developers and development with this move.

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Exchange 2010: Tier Your Workforce, Split Your Domain, Save Money

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

Microsoft today announced the public beta of Exchange 2010. This product is a natural extension and improvement over Exchange 2007 (and anybody on Exchange 2003 should really be looking at it), but it also introduces at least one important new capability: email archiving.

But I'll let my colleagues explain that in more detail. I want to focus today on one aspect of Exchange 2010 that should matter to information and knowledge management professionals at large firms: saving money by moving occasional users to the cloud.

Microsoft's Software + Service strategy has rapidly matured and is native to Exchange 2010. This architecture of a single environment that spans on-premise and cloud-based gives large firms an opportunity to leave some mailboxes on-premise and host others in the cloud to save money without incurring admin hassles.

Exchange 2010 is the first product that Microsoft has engineered to run as well in the cloud as on-premise. That means it will be easier to split your domain and run a single managed environment (meaning one admin console, one archiving management tool set, one legal hold implementation, one message filtering solution) across an on-premise and cloud-based implementation.

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Hello People, BlackBerry Is The Killer Enterprise Device Today

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

Sigh. I guess it was to be expected, but the Apple opinionsphere has been overstating the case for iPhone. Based on the careful research that we did, we do think that iPhone is ready for the enterprise to consider. But that doesn't mean other mobile devices aren't more enterprise-worthy.

And if you you think iPhone case studies are falling out of the trees like acorns in autumn, trust me -- they'renot. It was hard to find three companies willing to talk opening about their iPhone experiences. In fact, it took me almost six months to find those brave souls.

So, let's be clear:

BlackBerry is the dominant mobile device for the enterprise in the US and will be for the foreseeable future. In fact, I wrote about BlackBerry's mobile collaboration platformlast fall. BlackBerry is a great platform for mobile collaboration because of its security, network, manageability, form factor choice, global carrier support, ISV experience, and superior messaging capabilities.

We hear from many Forrester clients that they would have to pry BlackBerrys out of the "cold dead fingers" of their employees. That says something about how important that device is to productivity.

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Making iPhone Work In The Enterprise

by Ted Schadler

If you had asked me three years ago whether the mobile industry would become a free-for-all of innovation and opportunity, I would have been forced to sigh and say, "can't see how -- the carriers don't seem interested in unlocking that potential."

I would certainly have been wrong as Apple has so impressively shown with its iPhone strategy (with first AT&T's and now 100s of carrier's support).

After 21 months in market, it's quite clear that Apple is redefining its third industry: first the computer industry, next the music industry, and now the mobile industry. With 25,000 applications (yes, mostly consumer applications today) available on Apple's private store and a reported 800,000,000 downloads, the iPhone has become a new platform for innovation.

At least one major enterprise vendor -- Cisco -- now treats the iPhone ahead of BlackBerry devices as a tier one device, at least as demonstrated by its WebEx and Cisco Call Manager applications.

But enterprises have been slow to adopt the product because of legitimate security and manageability concerns. Perhaps no longer. We found three enterprises willing to talk about their support of iPhone:

  1. Kraft Foods uses iPhone support to signal new suipport for employee culture change. Adding 400 more iPhones a month, on track for 4,000 iPhones by year end.

  2. Oracle Corporation responds to employee demand for iPhones. 4,000 iPhones globally and counting.

  3. An IT senior director at a California-based pharmaceutical company makes iPhone a priority. January 2009 launch, adding 100+ iPhones a month.

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Cisco's Flip Kick Into Video Authoring: It's The Bits, Folks

Ted-Schadlerby Ted Schadler

It wasn't a surprise to see networking expansionist Cisco buying Flip, the popular video camcorder (though the price tag was steep especially given Cisco's recent stock decline). The logic is simple:

  • Cisco sells networking gear.

  • It needs customers to want to buy more gear.

  • Video generates 10 or 1,000 times the bandwidth needs as anything else.

  • Anything that generates video bits will fuel Cisco's growth.

  • Flip makes a product that has captivated on people's fascination with video storytelling.

  • Cisco buys Pure Digital for its Flip and consumer brand. QED.

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