by Jeffrey Mann | November 4, 2011 | 2 Comments
Gartner’s big European event starts next week in Barcelona, a welcome change from Cannes, in my own opinion. Social is inevitably a hot topic, and I look forward to speaking with many customers over the four days of the conference. I will be doing two workshops (defining a social media strategy, and creating a SharePoint strategy with Mick MacCormascaigh) and two presentations (the social scenario and an update on Unified Communications and Collaboration with Steve Blood).
Those sessions would make it a busy four days, but also have about 35 meetings already scheduled. That means I am sold out, so I am sorry if any delegates weren’t able to get on my calendar. You can look for at the receptions (if the questions aren’t too hard) or set up a time to talk after the event if my slots were all taken.
This is the first time in three years that I am not looking at Symposium as the conference chair. I am looking forward to being “just” an analyst in one of my favourite cities in the world. Hope to see you there.
Category: being an analyst collaboration europe Events social media social software symposium Tags: #gartnersym, Barcelona, social, social media, social software, symposium
by Jeffrey Mann | November 1, 2011 | 2 Comments
My colleague Anthony Bradley has been courting controversy with his comments on social media vs. knowledge management on his blog.
OK, I’ll bite. I disagree,
I disagree, but not so much on the substance of his comments. Anthony’s characterization of what some knowledge management (KM) projects look like, and what social media (SM) efforts should look like are accurate for many cases that I have observed. But that would be the case for pretty much any comments. KM can accurately be described in pretty much any way you like. It has become so broad a term that it threatens to stop meaning anything at all.
My real disagreement is with pretty much any sentence that starts with the phrase “KM is…” Whatever text follows will be too limiting. There will be plenty of situations that do not align with whatever that characterization is. Many KM projects look exactly like an SM project; in fact, adoption of social techniques is one of the hottest areas of KM right now. Certainly, many managers will mess it up by applying rigid ideas about how these project should be managed, but you don’t have to call it KM to do that; plenty will make mistakes without ever referring to KM at all. There are hundreds of ways to mess up a project.
I have been working with customers trying to do KM for at least 15 years. In that time, I have seen an unimaginably wide spectrum of activities that fall under what they call KM; some of them directed and hierarchical, many of them chaotic and emergent. I have pretty much given up on trying to wrestle down a concise definition of what KM is or should be for all practitioners and use cases. At Gartner, we have adopted for our purposes a wide definition ("A formal program to manage an organization’s intellectual assets.") coupled with narrow use cases that focus on design, justification, management and incentives. The KM activities as described should lead to other projects that deliver actual value. These could look like workflow, search, document management or, yes even social media projects. In our model, KM sets the scene for the real value to follow. Seen in this way, SM is just one of the tools and techniques that could be employed as the result of a KM process.
Not everyone will not use the term “KM” in that way, and that’s fine. If someone wants to call their storage management initiative KM, who am I to say that is forbidden? It is not the term that will cause failure; it’s what you do wrong that will send the project spinning off in the wrong direction.
Category: knowledge management social media social software Tags: analysts, Anthony Bradley, KM, knowledge management, social media
by Jeffrey Mann | April 2, 2011 | 2 Comments
I had a little fun in yesterday’s April 1 post assigning new names to the Magic Quadrants, and renaming the whole thing to Real Quadrants. I hope I left enough clues that it was a joke, but it actually illustrates a frustrating issue. I am starting the process to update the Externally-Facing Social Software Magic Quadrant, so how people use the MQ is top of mind at the moment.
Analysts do a lot of work to define inclusion and evaluation criteria to give what we feel is a realistic and useful picture of a market. Obviously, there is no way to include all the nuances of what companies need to do and how they should get there in a two dimensional graphic. For most markets, we cannot include all possible vendors, but draw the inclusion criteria carefully to rate the most relevant ones. Our goal is to make the dot placements provide an overall view of the market, which combined with the text descriptions of the market itself and each vendor provides useful guidance. These are consistently among the most popular deliverables we produce, so despite the inevitable limitations, clients love them and find them useful.
However, it is not a good idea to take important decisions only by looking at the top right corner. I cringe whenever I hear customers say that they only consider vendors in the leader’s quadrant. That is not how these things should be used. When I speak with customers, I often recommend vendors from every quadrant or who are not on the MQ at all, based on what the customer wants to achieve, the infrastructure already installed, potential affinity with how the vendor works, etc. Interpreting these diagrams too broadly means missing out on a lot of great stuff.
Also, apologies to European readers who probably didn’t read it on April 1. I only thought of it in the evening while walking my dog. It usually works that way.
Category: being an analyst humor Magic Quadrant Tags: MQ, Real Quadrants
by Jeffrey Mann | April 1, 2011 | 11 Comments
We are constantly looking at our branded deliverables to see how they can be improved or connect more closely with how our customers use them. Customer feedback has told us that the names of the 4 sections in our Magic Quadrants don’t correspond with how many customers choose to interpret them. Despite our efforts to explain how these are intended to be used, many customers insist on ignoring the real intentions behind the structure and assign simplistic interpretations to what each placement means.
Therefore, as of April 1, 2011 we will be renaming the Magic Quadrants and calling them “Real Quadrants®” and changing the names of each quadrant. Rather than Challengers, Leaders, Niche Players and Visionaries, the corresponding sections will be named as indicated below to correspond more closely with these simplistic interpretations.
It will take some time to finish reformatting existing documents. We expect to have this completed and will launch them all simultaneously on April 31, 2011. We have not yet come up with a name for the fifth quadrant introduced in Mark McDonald’s new magic MQ, which launched today.
For more information about Real Quadrants, please click here.
Category: being an analyst humor Magic Quadrant Tags: April Fools, Challengers, Leaders, MQ, Niche, Real Quadrants, satire, Visionaries
by Jeffrey Mann | March 30, 2011 | Submit a Comment
I’m waiting for my flight home after seeing the 2011 Portals, Content and Collaboration summit come to a close in Los Angeles. We passed the venue on to our CRM colleagues, who will continue with Customer 360 event. These conferences are always as exhausting as they are stimulating, so please allow me some fairly random comments and observations.
- It felt good, from the analyst perspective.
Events each have their own feel, their own level of buzz. This event certainly had lots of buzz, with a feeling of optimism underlying it. Judging by feedback from Twitter, people laughing at the right spots, and having lots of questions I felt like my sessions were well-received, even the one where I attack the wisdom of pursuing financial ROI for PCC projects. I was a bit nervous about that one.
- The venue was great.
The conference location at LA Live was pleasant to be at. I like downtown venues where it’s possible to get out and see something, where there are people around that aren’t part of the conference. This venue had that.
- Technology is advancing, but the issues that many enterprises are facing don’t.
The biggest challenges that enterprises face continue to be defining strategy, setting priorities and policies, and driving adoption. New capabilities come available, but these remain the issues that cause the biggest problems.
- IRL doesn’t necessarily mean face time.
The opportunity to meet with other people facing similar issues. This remains a challenge though, as ever more powerful and portable devices provide distraction. I almost tweeted a scene I found funny, with six people sitting around a table in comfortable chairs, all of them engrossed in their phones and tablets, ignoring each other. Tweeting snarky comments about customers is probably a bad thing though, so I held back.
I hope that Customer 360 will be as good. I will be watching on Twitter.
Category: collaboration PCC social software Tags: collaboration, content, los Angeles, portals, summits
by Jeffrey Mann | March 27, 2011 | 2 Comments
I am not usually all that into gadgets, and I have never understood the manic devotion to all things Apple that some normally rational people display. I don’t have an iPhone (I tried, but that’s a long, not very interesting story) and am very happy with my Blackberry Torch. I get a secret satisfaction out of often being the only one in the room without one of those black rectangles.
I resisted getting an iPad when they first came out, because I figured the second edition would be much better. The lack of a camera was a particular drawback, since this is such a perfect form factor for video conferencing. As Apple gets more and more controlling and arrogant (App Store policies, newspaper subscriptions,…), I wasn’t sure I wanted to go down that road.
But the iPad 2 convinced me. It is better in enough areas to convince me to get one. Not one, but TWO cameras. I was ready. They would soon become available in Europe (although about $220 more expensive than one bought in the US), but I figured I could pick one up during a trip to California this week.
I saw the news reports of low stocks in stores, and inquired about my chances on twitter. They were not encouraging. Apparently, to score one of these things, I should go to an Apple retail store at 5:00 am and wait in line until the store opened at 10:00 (maybe 9:00) to get one of the few devices dribbling out. Or check out a long list of inventory web sites at other retailers, followed by phone calls to plan out a strategy.
I don’t think so. Yes, I want one, but not THAT badly. For awhile, I will have to content myself reading what colleagues say about this phenomenon. I would not put it past Apple to be orchestrating this scarcity to increase the buzz, and I don’t want to encourage that kind of behavior. I might still get one, but not until I can avoid going to fanatical lengths to get one.
Category: Apple Personal RIM social media Tags: fanboys, ipad, tablets
by Jeffrey Mann | February 14, 2011 | 5 Comments
Good systems have good user interfaces. They anticipate what we want to do, learn our preferences and foibles; protect us from mistakes. As devices get better at anticipating what we do, they gradually become a part of our personalities, as we get more and more accustomed to how they learn about us and come to reflect ourselves in them.
Picking up someone else’s smartphone feels like entering a strange world, where everything is familiar… but creepily wrong. It has learned all about someone else, whose preferences inevitably just feel doofy. I long to get back to my own device, which has the email icon in the right place, and knows what to do with copies of sent emails. It feels like coming home. Even though my laptop is slowing down and crashes every now and then, I resist reinstalling the image, even though I know that make everything faster and more stable. I hate the idea of having to teach it all about me again; what pictures I like on the desktop, what web sites I go to. All the things I do without thinking, I would have to think about again.
Sometimes this familiarity absolutely scares the bejeebers out of me.
Not because I am afraid that my laptop will learn too much about me, or become sentient and try to take my place. The stupid thing goes into a total panic if I change printers without telling it. I don’t feel threatened. But I am scared that I will come to depend on it knowing me so well that I will do something stupid. For every email address that auto-completes, every password that my browser remembers for me, I feel myself getting a little more dependent and looser. I let my system take care of the small things so that I can think of bigger stuff (I tell myself). But what if the little things aren’t so little anymore?
I got to thinking about how UIs are evolving when I read about new cars coming on the market that can park themselves. Letting a car steer itself into a space will take some getting used to, but I can see how this could be considered a little thing. Engineers are also experimenting with cars that will drive themselves, or at least steer themselves on the highway. That seems like a bit of a bigger deal, but I could get used to that. I could make jokes about Blue Screens of Death, or how unreliable software is, but that doesn’t really concern me. I am more worried about me.
Once I get used to my car steering itself, I expect cars to do that. That will be the new normal for how cars work, just like I expect browsers to know that when I type “nyt” I actually mean http//:www.nytimes.com. When I use another system that doesn’t do that, I have a small “what the…?” moment until I remember that I am not “home” and adjust.
But once I get used to my car steering on the highway, someday I know that I will get in a rental car, and it won’t be so smart. This new normal will lead to disaster, when it becomes too normal. My car already decides when to turn on the headlights, how to keep the inside temperature at 19 C, when it’s raining enough to turn on the wipers, and when it wants to go to the garage. I have come to expect that cars have central door locking. That can lead to an unpleasant surprise with some rentals, but nothing as bad as assuming that my car will keep me from bashing into the car ahead of me.
It’s great that these things are looking out for me, but I hope that I still remember to look out.
Category: Applications devices predictions Tags: design, travel, user interface
by Jeffrey Mann | January 26, 2011 | 7 Comments
I wish to apologize for all of the demos I have somehow disrupted, those in the past and I am sure, in the future.
I see a lot of vendor briefings as an analyst. A disturbing number of them go wrong. I cannot count how many times I heard the phrase “Haven’t seen that before…” or “Can you see anything?” or “It worked this morning.” My favourite is “We just released a new build, and it might not be completely stable,” as the software crumbles into a smouldering heap of bits.
Or worse. Just this week, a very proud web conferencing vendor wanted to show me their flashy new version. It did look good, until it crashed my machine with a Blue Screen of Death, the first one of those I have seen in several years. That day also saw the second and third time I saw it, until we finally gave up.
I’m not sure why, but I am prepared to believe it is my fault somehow. I spend a lot of time in the mountains, which makes for sometimes dodgy Internet connections. Maybe that is what does it.
Maybe its just my karma. Whatever the reason, I am sorry. If I could make it stop, I would.
Category: being an analyst conferencing humor technology Vendors Tags: BSOD, crash, demos
by Jeffrey Mann | January 23, 2011 | 2 Comments
Social media policies are proving to be a minefield for companies and individuals learning to navigate the shoals of what is permissible, desirable or merely awkward. Digital channels multiply the opportunities for potential cIashes between what we think we are doing or saying as private individuals, and the reasonable interests of our employers or other institutions. This problem is often expressed as an unavoidable clash between who we are as employees and who we are as private individuals.
Framing the question this way seems far too simple to me. The issue is not whether it is possible to separate the work persona from a personal persona, but rather how to manage the multitude of personas we inhabit. Every day we switch between dozens of roles: employee, manager, father, husband, Battlestar Galactica fan, college friend, dog owner… We are accustomed to dealing with these different contexts, switching between them and modifying how we behave and what we say.
I behave differently with a difficult vendor challenging an MQ position than with a vendor where I have a long relationship working on strategy (I’m not easier on the latter, but it is undeniably different). I would act differently towards a youth athletic team I coach than with friends from college. I try (not always successfully) to hold back on sarcastic, ironic comments unless I know the people really well. I know that I am not alone. Everyone makes these kinds of shifts every day. If we don’t, we can’t do our jobs or even live our lives effectively.
Social media increases the chances where this can go wrong, but it is important to remember that this not something completely new; we need to learn to apply what we already do IRL to these virtual channels.
A bit of perspective and common sense will also help. I find some of these stories where it has gone wrong deeply depressing. Why would someone drinking a glass of wine while on holiday be fired? Would a company fire someone for griping around the water cooler? If not, why is a discussion on Facebook that much different? In fact, that often makes a good test as to whether something is worth pursuing: If the equivalent behaviour happened in real life, without digital media involved, would there be a problem? That can be one way of inserting common sense into some needlessly tense situations.
Category: IT Governance Personal policy privacy social media Tags: common sense, compliance, social media policy, wine
by Jeffrey Mann | January 5, 2011 | 2 Comments
As social software becomes more popular and widely-adopted, it seems like everything is getting a social component. I recently tweeted some musings about what could be the next big social thing. My colleague Andy added a few more. I thought I would use this longer format to add some possibilities of what these Next Big things might be.
- Social storage management: Where do you think this cluster should go?
- Social data center cooling: Is it hot in here, or what?
- Social format conversion: Is JPG trending higher than BMP?
- Social regression testing: Click that button again, I dare you.
- Social keyboards: A blog for four hands.
- Social app development. I thought you already built that?
- Social printer drivers: I prefer Bodoni
- Social WiFi routers: www.fon.com
- Social UPCs: BzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
- Social load balancing: Go without me; I have too much to do.
- Social browser caching: Who wants to see this again?
- Social network prioritization: No, I insist; after you.
- Social transaction processing: Not now; I’m busy.
- Social power plug: Does anyone have a Euro Powerbook cord I can borrow?
- Social telephone: Hey, there’s an idea!
- Social mousepad: <all right, I’m stumped. Who has an idea?>
Got any more? What do you think the least likely next big thing for social will be?
Category: humor social media social software Tags: #thenextsocial, humor, social media, social software