Which is the right Gartner blog for you?

I’ve been preoccupied putting together the InformationSpan workshop held in London last week (it went well – thankyou for asking!) and with follow-up. So, apologies for the posting gap.

One of the things that’s happened in the meantime is that Gartner have opened themselves up to the blogsphere. SageCircle in particular have kept in touch with this development and I don’t propose to repeat Carter’s coverage – see the links at the end!

I’m pleased to see this development; they’re catching up on what Forrester’s best analysts have been doing for some time now. From the user’s perspective, it means that there’s enhanced access to Gartner’s experts and expertise without subscriptions. But Gartner have only published a list of names for you to work with. I know a lot of these analysts from having worked with them, but even I don’t know all their coverage areas.

Whether or not you’re familiar with Gartner: have a look at the blog list, identify one or two working in areas you’re interested in, and track them. How? You can now go directly to InformationSpan’s enhanced directory of Gartner blogs. I’ve sorted out the list so that each name is linked to their coverage area, and also to their bio. There are links through to the relevant areas of Gartner’s site. There’s a page of Forrester blogs too: this is simpler, because Forrester’s blogs are named for their coverage area – but there can be several analysts contributing to one blog, and Forrester don’t list them. Work in progress here. Finally, there’s a page of other blogs that I think are worth looking at, either from specialist global firms like Burton and AMR, or from more local providers or niche firms. I’ll probably extend that list over time, but if you want a complete list then go to Tekrati’s!

Enjoy!

Links:
For InformationSpan’s blog directory, go to informationspan.com and click on “See our new guide to leading analyst blogs” at the top of the page
• Q&A with Gartner about the new Gartner Blog Network SageCircle, 16 Sep 2008
• Update on Gartner’s expanded blogging initiative … SageCircle, 26 Sep 2008, includes a list of Gartner blogger names
• Analyst Blogs Directory from Tekrati, lsted by provider

The return to work: the user take on Forrester+Jupiter

I’ve been away from the office for most of August, letting news build up, so I missed the acquisition of Jupiter by Forrester at the end of July. There’s plenty of comment out there from the market perspective – SageCircle’s is one of the best. But, as enterprises return to work, maybe I can help you catch up too!

For a start, this is something of a reversal of fortunes. A decade or so ago, prior to Forrester’s acquisition of Giga, Forrester were moving into coverage of the emerging world of online business. The enterprise I worked for closed down a contract with them because we judged they were falling between two stools. They didn’t have sufficient IT coverage (till Giga filled in the gaps). And consumer data was available from our marketing support services – such as Jupiter. So Forrester came some way second to Jupiter. Now, they’ve acquired them.

I’ve never been a Jupiter user, so I can’t comment from the Jupiter users’ perspective. But read David Schatsky, Jupiter’s President. His blog isn’t just the usual “gosh we’re excited” senior executive stuff. He talks about Jupiter’s “grudging admiration” for Forrester, their disagreements over past forecasts, and the recognised strengths of a competitor. So, when he does say he’s excited, you can believe it.

I’ve been a technology-side user of Forrester rather than a marketing-side user. But I know enough about the two firms to believe that this combination does make sense, and George Colony will make it work. Forrester’s integration of Giga, some years ago, was no doubt tough but Forrester adopted many of Giga’s working practices – the ones that the clients valued most. Expect the same approach.

So both Forrester and Jupiter clients will see some changes. Now’s the time to start the conversation with your sales executive, and let Forrester know which aspects of either offering you value.

If you’re a Forrester user on the technology side, it likely won’t make a great deal of difference. But on the market research side (Jupter will join Forrester’s Marketing & Strategy Client Group) George Colony clearly expects Jupter to deepen Forrester’s capability and add some new directions. If you’re a Jupiter user, and you need help understanding how Forrester work, get in touch!

I haven’t had chance to talk to Forrester yet; I’m back at work on a Bank holiday, so there’s nobody there in the UK office. Watch for an update posting when I have chance to do so!

Links:
Forrester Acquires JupiterResearch, Forrester Press Release, 31 Jul 2008
Forrester Buys Jupiter, blog, David Schatsky,31 Jul 2008
Forrester buying Jupiter – smart, but not a big deal, SageCircle, 3 Aug 2008
Forrester acquires JupiterResearch, Analyst Perspectives, 5 Aug 2008

Google gets Lively

Google’s recently launched its own virtual world: Lively. The announcement was posted on the Official Google Blog earlier this month. So I’m a little late in finding it, but that means that other blogs and commentators have covered the basics and we can dig a little.

What is it? It’s not by some distance a full competitor to Second Life. Instead it’s aimed to be simple to get into, and relatively easy to use. It’s a 3-D representation of a string of chat rooms, not a full virtual world. You can create your own real estate, but it’s limited to a room. There aren’t all that many things you can customise. And at most 20 people can be in a room at once: no IBM WorldJams here!

Gartner believe it’s aimed at Facebook and MySpace, not SecondLife; and you can (for the moment at least) read Gartner’s admittedly brief comment in full on the website, even without an account. There’s a key thing that they highlight, which is that Lively rooms can be embedded in other websites and blogs. You can’t do that with SecondLife. The gadgets you create in your Lively room can also run on your desktop, Google say. You can’t do that with SecondLife, either.

As Gartner say, it breaks little new ground in virtual world technology. It’s based, at least partly, on research carried out at Arizona State University, but reading between the lines it looks as if this research was into the social side (what will attract users?) rather than the technology.

Forrester cover Lively in more detail (but you’ll need an account). They broadly agree with the points above, that it’s “aiming for a more mainstream, social, and multiapplication audience” – it’s more “Small World” than SecondLife, and its ties to other social networking tools (including Facebook and, of course, the Open Social platform) are important. Forrester’s coverage is aimed mainly at consumer marketing people, and they list a number of markers to track over the coming months to aid decision making.

What is clear is that Lively is designed specifically not to be self contained. It’s going to encourage movement to and from the standard desktop, integrating Lively into all sorts of other things people already do. And there’s one possibility which this raises, which I haven’t seen anyone comment on.

This feature just might turn out to be one to take virtual worlds into the everyday enterprise as well as the consumer arena. If it’s easy to embed a virtual room in, say, an internal meeting database then global companies might finally see the value.

Links:
Lively
Be who you want on the web pages you visit (official Google blog)
Facebook Is the Real Target of Google’s Virtual World (Gartner, 10 July 2008 )
Lively: Google Enters The Virtual Worlds Space (Forrester Research, 15 Jul 2008 )

There’s a ton of commentary on the web. Just put “Google Lively” into Google!

No false hiding at Forrester

I liked this.

Forrester made a small bloomer on their web backend last week which resulted in one of their analysts’ mugshots being replaced by a picture of a colleague of the opposite gender. Far from just correcting it quickly and hoping nobody would notice, the analyst concerned has made a mini-case study of it to remind people of some fundamentals of web publishing.

Being able to share lessons from your own mistakes is a mark of considerable maturity! Well done Stephen Power and Forrester.

Link: (I don’t think this is restricted to Forrester clients)
Steve, You’ve Never Looked Better (Forrester Research blog, 9 July 2008 )

Analyst industry ethics

I’ve just come across a paper by Joe Clabby (Clabby Analytics) talking about advocacy and objectivity in the analyst business (what InformationSpan calls Insight Services). It’s worth reading to get you thinking about how you use insight services, and what they’re doing.

Joe’s a researcher (as I am) and he espouses a solid research-based methodology. He expects insight services analysts to base their positions on actual research not just “feel”. He’s comfortable that analysts take a position on a market place: the best of these are hands-on researched, like Forrester’s Wave and similar tools, and I agree with him. After nearly 15 years as a service user, I know that enterprises want help and actionable support in making actual decisions, not just the raw data and an invitation to “make up you own mind”.

However – I think he’s over-optimistic in expecting technology press to be accurate and objective, over against an analyst. A reporter is going to be on one assignment one week, and another the next. They may have an area of specialisation, but a good analyst from one of the larger firms, or a niche specialist, will outdo them. How often have you read a trade press report about something you actually know about, and agreed with everything they say? Not often, I assume! which is by no means to question their professionalism, only to say that with deadlines and limited resources they will mostly get only part of the truth. Sure, I use the news sources; but I treat them with caution. Especially today, which is April 1st, but that’s by the by!

I picked the Forrester Wave as a prime example because, unlike some competitors, Forrester gives access to the raw data so that a client can re-balance the scores to meet their own specific environment. And that is another thing which I expect from a good analyst: the ability to take their in-depth research-based knowledge and apply it to my particular concerns: the company’s business aims and culture, the “how we do IT”, the CIO’s top six issues, and so on. In other words, reading the research report isn’t the end, it’s the beginning of the conversation.

Joe – thanks for starting this debate. Let’s keep it going!

Links:

IT Analyst Ethics: Advocacy vs. Objectivity Clabby Analytics, Jan 2008
Waves and Vendor Comparisons from Forrester Research

Links are provided in good faith, but InformationSpan does not take responsibility for the content of linked third party sites. Forrester Wave is a trade mark.<

Microsoft and Yahoo! – or will Google step in?

The news of Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo! broke in the Saturday papers, and there’s a mass of coverage. It’s worth collecting some of the initial comments. Both companies spread wide, and some people – and companies – will find themselves buying services from Microsoft when, perhaps, they deliberately chose not to. In the UK, for example, a lot of broadband internet is supplied by a BT/Yahoo! joint offering so there’s an immediate potential impact there.

Google certainly think it’s worth reacting to. They fielded David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer; and he immediately raises the spectre of Microsoft’s “legacy of serious legal and regulatory offenses” to encourage regulators, and consumers, to sit up and take notice. And to position Google as the champion of the open internet.

In business terms, does it make sense? What have Yahoo! got that Microsoft haven’t? The Guardian tagged the bid as and admission of failure by Microsoft and an attempt to “buy its way into the 21st Century”. Microsoft, it says, maintained its dominance of desktop and office software; but Google ate its lunch in search and, along with the open source movement, is making inroads into the applications market. Yahoo! dominated search until Google came along, but is there any way that pooling Yahoo! and Microsoft’s resources would magically create a Google-beater here? There’s analysis of this one from The Observer (that’s The Guardian‘s Sunday sister) and one interesting quote is from a financial analyst who says “We see Google as a search business, but it is a media company that makes all its money from advertising”. Would the combine challenge Google in this space? Adding their two market shares doesn’t win, and mergers don’t create new ideas automatically. But it’s perhaps a better indicator of why Microsoft’s made the move, and where it thinks the IT business is going. And of a shift in the media business too.

Forrester’s Charlene Li blogs about this in Groundswell and about the way both companies need to play catch-up in social computing.. She looks at the jewels in a potential combined portfolio: Flickr and del.icio.us, Microsoft’s investment in Facebook, and so on. She raises the possibility of Yahoo! selling Google its search advertising to defend itself (remember this is a hostile bid), raising the cash to stay otherwise independent. Google did this kind of deal with MySpace.

This isn’t an enterprise IT-oriented merger bid; indeed Computerworld‘s reaction is that it might distract Microsoft from the enterprise’s primary business with Microsoft which is precisely desktop and office software. It’s about the social web, advertising and media. But if (when) social networking finally gets adopted by enterprises – Faceforce, the link between Salesforce.com and Facebook, is a straw in the wind – then there would be an impact there too. As Charlene puts it, “people go where their friends are”. There’s a lot more comment out there, as you’d expect; no substitute for going looking for yourself – no doubt via your favourite search engine …

Links:

Yahoo! and the future of the Internet Official Google Blog, 3 Feb 2008

Microsoft tries to buy way into 21st century The Guardian expert comment, 2 Feb 2008; alternatively, go to the homepage at guardian.co.uk and search Yahoo Microsoft

Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo!: What it meansCharlene Li, Groundswell, 1 Feb 2008

Would a Microsoft-Yahoo deal out Google Google? Computerworld, 1 Feb 2008

Links are provided in good faith, but InformationSpan does not take responsibility for the content of linked sites. News sites often archive material after a few days; use the site’s search engine if a link fails.