Jeffrey Mann

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Jeffrey Mann
Research VP
14 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Jeffrey Mann is a research vice president for collaboration and social software at Gartner Research. Mr. Mann focuses on social software, team workspaces, the collaboration market and knowledge management. Read Full Bio

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My New Year’s Anti-Resolutions for 2010

by Jeffrey Mann  |  December 30, 2009  |  9 Comments

Last year, I did a blog post on what I call my anti-resolutions for the year. Traditionally, many blogs publish their predictions and personal resolutions around the end of the year. So I won’t.

Happy New Year! by jurvetson.Instead, I want to talk about my anti-resolutions for 2010.They are “anti” in a couple different ways. The main one is that these are not things that I intend to do, but stuff that I hope that other people will do. That is much easier.This is also what analysts usually do; we rarely do stuff, but we comment a lot on what other people or organizations should do. Most of the resolutions are also “anti” because they describe something that I hope won’t happen rather than new things that should happen. I am generally not a negative person, but there’s a lot of undesirable activity going on out there. After reading this, please stop it. Thank you.

  1. Vendors should stop confusing “You can use it to do that” with “We designed it to do that”
    Maybe it’s because I am working on a new magic quadrant (for “Externally-facing Social Software Platforms”), but I’m growing weary of vendors who think because a feature can conceivably be (mis)used to fill a need, that they should be considered just as much as a product specifically designed to meet a particular set of requirements.

    You can use a heavy duty flashlight to hammer in a nail (I know; I’ve done it), but that doesn’t mean that a flashlight should be considered part of the hammer market.

  2. Organizational planners should stop thinking that participation in social media is enough.
    Don’t get me wrong; I think participation is wonderful. Participation, (or at least monitoring if that’s all that you can swing at the moment) in communities and broader social conversations is the best place to start.

    But merely participating cannot be the end goal. You need to understand what you realistically can get from the community, and what you can contribute, with emphasis on the latter. If you contribute well, you have a much better chance of benefiting at some point.

  3. More enterprises will look beyond SharePoint
    I have nothing against Microsoft SharePoint. It is good at serving several needs, and just fine for addressing many others. But there are plenty of other good products out there, doing innovative things. In too many cases, SharePoint has become the default answer no matter what the question. Rather than asking “How can I use SharePoint to do X” most of the time, a better question would be “How can I do Y” or even “What should be the role of SharePoint in supporting my efforts to achieve Z?”
  4. Vendors should stop thinking that it is the analysts’ job to promote their product.
    I shouldn’t be, but I’m regularly surprised and depressed at how often this comes up. The biggest part of my job is to help end user customers make better decisions, and to help vendor customers develop better products and marketing strategies. I am not a direct part of those marketing efforts, however.

    I talk about vendors and products a lot, but not because the vendor is a client, or because they took the trouble to brief me. I realize that briefings take time and effort, and appreciate it when vendors invest their time in talking to me. But neither that nor being a client creates an obligation to promote a product.

  5. Please don’t blithely assume that analysts are scuzzballs.
    Again I shouldn’t be, but I am often unpleasantly surprised at the ease with which some people assume that analysts are unethical, sleazy, scumbags who do nothing unless bribed. I have no problem with people disagreeing or challenging judgements, but I am as insulted as Tom is by offhand, unsupported assumptions that question my integrity. Luckily, I have enough customers who seem to value the advice which my colleagues and I provide. If we were really as scuzzy as some people seem to think, no one would put any weight in what we have to say.

    I can’t speak for the entire industry or even all of Gartner, but I know that for a fact that I have never been asked to favour a vendor client over non-clients in any research I have done. Most of the time, I don’t even know for sure which ones are clients. We spend a great deal of time discussing how to keep our independence, and none on how to reward paying clients. In the last month, I had two situations where I know that Gartner lost revenue because a vendor client expected their customer relationship should deliver them more mentions in research notes and conference presentations and better ratings (see #4). We showed no hesitation in making clear that this is not the way we work.

  6. Please don’t let the Apple people get pitted against the Android/ChromeOS folks
    image I suspect that the time is soon coming when we we will see “I’m a Mac, and I’m a ChromeOS” ads, or at least spoof videos along the lines of Apple’s ads making fun of PCs. Since I am more of a PC/Blackberry type, most of this will pass me by, like when the cool kids in high school  split along a strict Michael Jackson/ZZ Top divide (I was more of a Joe Jackson fan).

    I already find most Mac vs. PC discussions irritating (they both work, they both have problems, IMHO). But a split like this will inevitably encourage the disturbing trend that splits the world into camps that generally either talk past each other, or shout at each other. There’s enough of that in politics; let’s try to avoid it in tech where we can.

  7. No one will “Reply all” to more than ten people.
    Yeah, that would be nice.

As for last year’s anti-resolutions, as I expected not many of them came to be, or stopped being as the case may be. A little bit of progress on numbers 7 , 8 and 9, but not much. However, this year’s list only has 7 items instead of 10, so I suppose that is close enough to good news to be worth celebrating.

Happy new year to everyone.

9 Comments »

Category: being an analyst collaboration email humor Magic Quadrant Microsoft predictions social media social software symposium technology Vendors     Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jim Milbery   December 30, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Jeff,

    Puhleeeeeze. Item number one can be filed under the “never going to happen” property. I spent years as a vendor (as you well know) and being able to say “Yes” is the first skill that an SE learns. All sarcasm aside, I would vote for this one once customers start listing their REAL requirements. Too many times the prospect simply loads up on feature requirements without even really knowing what these features are supposed to do. Thus, as an SE, I would answer “yes” as to whether my product can be stretched to fulfill a certain requirement because I have no confidence that the prospect even really needs (or understands) what they just asked me for. My prospects often asked for hammer flashlights, so I gave ‘em hammer flashlights.

  • 2 Jeffrey Mann   December 30, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Jim, I live in hope. I like to think that things will get better, even if for just a few days a year before sliding into the typical cynical crouch of an analyst.

    But you’re right about users needing to move beyond feature lists. See #1 from last year’s list.

  • 3 Jim Milbery   December 30, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    …oh, and one more thing. Don’t you know that Sharepoint is the ultimate universal software product? It can be used for anything. Like the old SNL commercial — it’s a dessert topping AND a floor wax ;o)

  • 4 Matt Rajkowski   December 31, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Seriously though, thanks for these anti-resolutions (and last year’s) because they are essential inputs to on-going improvements in social software.

    I’m a developer from an open source collaboration and social networking project which doesn’t have much paid marketing at all… so often I hope that the utility and convenience of a product will sell itself through word of mouth, analyst promotion, social marketing, partners, and of course blatant commenting on blog posts. :)

    Maybe not the best forum, but any general suggestions on point 2? As a product, we provide feature updates on Twitter and participate when our product is mentioned. There must be something you are hinting at.

  • 5 Jeffrey Mann   January 1, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Comment #2 is aimed at end user organizations as much as vendors. I see many groups who want to do “something” with social media, but haven’t really thought about what, They begin — and typically end — by assigning someone to post on Twitter, reply to comments on discussion boards and wikis, and open up their own communities.
    This is OK, but not if it stops there. Thinking deeper about using social media can tap into the collective to develop new products, create new ways of servicing customers, and transform business models.
    I’ll be wriing about how to do this with my colleagues in 2010.

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  • 8 Craig Tobey   January 4, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    I agreed with the comment above about #1 – sales is a dance where both the vendor (I wish we could drop that word) and the customer throw a lot of terms around willy-nilly. To be honest, a lot of us feel we need to fit into analyst-designated categories so we will get taken seriously.

    At a deeper level, I think a software vendor needs to listen very aggressively to their customers so they can build products that actually meet customer needs.

    I’ve literally said to companies “We built it for that” when we did a good job of getting people exactly what they need. I wish I could have said it more over my career.

    I blogged on it at: http://www.sellinghasvalue.com/2010/01/04/we-designed-it-to-do-that/

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