Jeffrey Mann

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

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

Gartner Introduces “Magic Fractals”

by Jeffrey Mann  |  April 1, 2012  |  2 Comments

1 April, 2012: After last year’s successful launch of “Real Quadrants,” Gartner has announced the next iteration in the development of its most popular branded deliverable. The Magic Quadrant’s two axes and four categories have proven insufficient to capture the complexities of IT markets in the second decade of the 21st century. Entire product categories become features of broader products at a dizzying rate. Disruptive innovators find ways to split existing markets in a new way by focusing on a different way of using or combining familiar capabilities. IT buyers are faced with a wide and constantly shifting range of offerings that could fit their needs, in many different ways.

Attempts to introduce nested quadrants or to add a third or fourth axis proved inadequate, as shown below. 

Magic Quadrant 3D!             Nested MQs

The only figure that could adequately cope with the complexity of the current IT market landscape is a fractal, a figure that can represent deep levels of complexity without losing fidelity.

Unfortunately, Magic Fractals cannot be adequately represented on a two dimensional web page. However, this video  shows a possible representation of a Magic Fractal, although the final version is likely to be different.

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Category: humor Magic Quadrant     Tags: , , ,

New Year’s Anti-Resolutions for 2012

by Jeffrey Mann  |  January 1, 2012  |  Submit a Comment

For the last several years, I have done blog posts on what I call my anti-resolutions for the year. Many bloggers publish their predictions and highlights around this time of year. So I won’t. If lots of people do something, that usually is a good enough reason for me not do it.

My resolutions are “anti” in a couple different ways. Happy new year! The main one is that these are not things that I intend to do, but are hopes and polite suggestions about what other people should do. As well as being much easier, it seems to be becoming a thing. Anti-resolutions also suite the way that analysts work; we rarely do stuff, but we comment a lot on what other people or organizations should do or have done.

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 grumpy person, but there’s a lot of undesirable activity going on out there. After reading this, please stop it. Thank you.

  1. Stop finding new ways to SPAM me. I have unsolicited email kind of under control. I’ve signed up for the don’t call me telemarketing lists. I really would rather not have to do that for Twitter, SMS, and other channels.
  2. Don’t think that a social media policy should be a long list of things NOT to do. It is OK for a list of anti-resolutions to sound a bit negative, but for social media policies it’s not a good idea. Describing what people should do, and they the organization encourages social media participation needs to be a part of any policy document.
  3. Please don’t ask me how to improve your position in a Magic Quadrant. The answer is simple: create a great product that people need, sell it a lot, and provide terrific support for your users. It really is that simple. There is no specific feature you can add, or partnership you can sign that will move your product to the upper right.
  4. If you want to set up a time to talk to me, tell me where you are likely to be. I live in Europe. I move around a lot. I have little trouble juggling time zones in my head. Matching up calendars will be easier if I know what time zone you are in.
  5. Don’t make me “like” something before I see what it is. Increasingly often, when I see a potentially interesting game, video, minisite or promotion on some social media site, the only way to see what it actually is requires pressing the Like button, or becoming a fan, or following the brand. How can I know if I like it before I see it? Please don’t ask me to commit before coming clean with what you’ve got.
  6. Don’t diss the vendor-customer relationship. I saw a truck go by on the highway this week that epitomizes this puzzling behaviour I see from more and more vendors. It said “All our customers are our partners!” What is wrong with being a customer? This statement assumes that being a partner is somehow more noble or exalted than being a mere customer. I don’t agree. Accepting someone’s money in exchange for providing a product or service is a great responsibility. Being a partner is a different relationship, where both parties expect to benefit from a third party because of their collaboration. Whenever a vendor starts talking about a “partnership” when they are trying to sell me something, I want to ask “So if I make a bonehead decision, will you lose your job?” That’s what being a partner means.
  7. Make noise about revenue and user adoption, not investments. Here is a tip for startups: I am far more impressed by a company that crows about its sales, revenues or customer growth than when it issues a big press release or (heaven forbid) throws a party to mark a big round of venture capital investment. Sure, it is nice when an investor believes enough in you to invest in your future. But it is far more significant when customers give you money because they believe you can help them. If I only ever hear about your ever larger VC participation rounds, it makes me think you are probably heading for a crash, because investors like to get returns on their investments, the kind that can only come from happy customers.
  8. Don’t think that Silicon Valley is like the rest of the world. Every time I visit clients in the Bay area, I notice how things change as I enter the SV Bubble. Within that bubble, reality shifts a bit. In the SV Bubble, SharePoint is irrelevant because no one uses it. Inside the bubble, privacy is a legal matter and not about not being creepy. Mentions on TechCrunch really matter there. VC investments seem to be more important than revenue numbers in there (see previous point). Ties don’t exist. It can be pleasant inside the Silicon Valley Bubble. Just don’t think that it is the real world.
  9. No one will “Reply all” to more than ten people.
    Please?

Happy new year everyone.

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Category: anti-resolutions being an analyst social media social software     Tags: , ,

Getting Sociable at Symposium Barcelona

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.

image

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Category: being an analyst collaboration europe Events social media social software symposium     Tags: , , , , ,

KM vs. SM? Really?

by Jeffrey Mann  |  November 1, 2011  |  1 Comment

 

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.

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Category: knowledge management social media social software     Tags: , , , ,

Real Quadrants? Not Really

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.

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Category: being an analyst humor Magic Quadrant     Tags: ,

Gartner Introduces “Real Quadrants” on April 1, 2011

by Jeffrey Mann  |  April 1, 2011  |  10 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.

image

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.

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Category: being an analyst humor Magic Quadrant     Tags: , , , , , , ,

Closing Out the PCC Conference

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, imagewho 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.

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Category: collaboration PCC social software     Tags: , , , ,

Yes, I want an iPad, but not THAT much

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.

image 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.

Sadly, no.

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.

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Category: Apple Personal RIM social media     Tags: , ,

Why a Good User Interface Might Make Rental Cars Kill Us

by Jeffrey Mann  |  February 14, 2011  |  1 Comment

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.

MP900316916[1] 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.

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Category: Applications devices predictions     Tags: , ,

I Apologize for Being Poison for Vendor Demos

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.

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Category: being an analyst conferencing humor technology Vendors     Tags: , ,