May 13, 2015
I find Harvard fascinating. As a poor student in a small, ignored also ran university, I bumped into the fancy university folks at debate tournaments. Our record against many fine institutions, such as Dartmouth and the other Big Dogs was okay.
We won. Lots.
Then there were the Big Dog MBAs at Booz, Allen & Hamilton. Sigh. Wall Street forced more of these “special ones” into my radar screen. Delightful. There was an MBAism for every issue. Maybe not a correction or appropriate solution, but there was jargon, generalizations, and entitlement thinking. In meeting after meeting, I reviewed nifty, but often meaningless or incoherent, graphs or diagrams. I did not count this work as “quality time.” Today, as the beloved and now departed Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
I read “Where the Digital Economy Is Moving the Fastest” and circled a remarkable diagram. True, the write up is not about search, but the spirit of search and content processing system vendors tinted my perception, using only pleasing and compatible calming colors.
The authors developed criteria for countries which are moving fast. Not product sales or market share, countries. The world but for nation states like Yemen and its ilk. Then, like good MBAs, crafted a matrix and plotted the fast movers, the losers, the ones to watch, and the maybes. Here’s the graphic:
There are “Watch Out” countries. I admit I interpreted this label in a manner different from the article’s sense of the phrase. I checked out the countries between Stall Out (dogs) and Stand Out (invest for sure maybe?). Poor Sweden, Britain, and Germany. Look at the countries on the move. Check out the tweeners: Brazil, Turkey, and the Russian Federation.
Now this map, the graphic, and the meaning of the “data” strikes me as less than useful
The diagram reminded me of other consulting firms’ matrices. I snagged this at random from Google.
What about this version from
Which makes more sense? The diagram from the Harvard Business Review, the diagram with lots of dots, or the dead simple diagram from Boston Consulting Group?
From my point of view, the BCG approach makes the most sense. BCG analyzed market share data, actual numbers. The diagram presents visual cues which related directly to the numerical data., The viewer of the diagram does not have to wonder why a specific company is in one box or why a specific country is a “break out.”
Whether analyzing countries or companies on essentially methods which do not tie directly to numbers, the diagrams raise more questions than they answer. The BCG matrix, which consultants at McKinsey and Booz, Allen & Hamilton envied when the BCG matrix became available in the 1970s was, “Wow, what a great diagram?”
What I believe has happened is that the value of the envy-generating BCG matrix is based in the data to which the quadrants tied because the focus was a specific product and its market share. If the share was increasing and lights were flashing green, then the product was a star.
The more recent versions of the matrix do the diagram, add complexity, and lack the quite specific analysis of numerical data which another person could analyze and, presumably, reach similar data-anchored observations. Math and data are helpful when properly combined.
In short, data and the BCG analysis make the BCG matrix an effective communication tool. Matrices without similar data rigor are artifacts of “experts” who want something that makes a sale possible.
BCG wanted to help its clients, not confuse them. MBAs, please, do not write me and tell me I don’t understand the sophistication of the methods underpinning these presentation ready diagrams. For me there is a gap between data-anchored graphics and subjective or opinion-based graphics.
Poetry and fiction are noble pursuits. Data may not exciting. But for me, an old school BCG matrix more satisfying as long as there are verifiable data unpinning the items mapped to the matrix.
Stephen E Arnold, May 23, 2015
May 7, 2015
SharePoint Online gets good reviews, but only from critics and those who are utilizing SharePoint for the first time. Those who are sitting on huge on-premises installations are dreading the move and biding their time. It is definitely an issue stemming from trying to be all things to all people. Search Content Management covers the issue in their article, “Migrating to SharePoint Online is a Tale of Two Realities.”
The article begins:
“Microsoft is paving the way for a future that is all about cloud computing and mobility, but it may have to drag some SharePoint users there kicking and screaming. SharePoint enables document sharing, editing, version control and other collaboration features by creating a central location in which to share and save files. But SharePoint users aren’t ready — or enthused about — migrating to . . . SharePoint Online. According to a Radicati Group survey, only 23% of respondents have deployed SharePoint Online, compared with 77% that have on-premises SharePoint 2013.”
If you need to keep up with how SharePoint Online may affect your organization’s installation, or the best ways to adapt, keep an eye on ArnoldIT.com. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and distills the latest tips, tricks, and news on his dedicated SharePoint feed. SharePoint Online is definitely the future of SharePoint, but it cannot afford to get there at the cost of its past users.
Emily Rae Aldridge, May 7, 2015
April 27, 2015
I enjoy reading the “analyses” of Blue Chip consulting firms. I have had a brush or two with the folks at these outfits over the years. I seem to recall working for one of them and doing consulting for a couple of others. At age 70, who knows?
I read “To Benefit from Big Data, Resist the Three False Promises.” Just three, I thought. To learn the truth, I sucked in the bits and learned:
Gartner recently predicted that “through 2017, 60% of big data projects will fail to go beyond piloting and experimentation and will be abandoned.” This reflects the difficulty of generating value from existing customer, operational and service data, let alone the reams of unstructured internal and external data generated from social media, mobile devices and online activity.
Zounds. A Blue Chip firm citing an Azure Chip firm. That, to me, is like the Cleveland Cavaliers tapping into a talent from a middle school basketball team. I assumed there was an intellectual gap between the Blue Chip consultants and the second tier outfits. Guess I was wrong. Another possibility is that the folks behind the article were plucking low hanging research fruit in order to make their case.
I learned that the three “false promises” were ones that just never, ever crossed my mind. The article states that there are three, count ‘em, three items of information about Big Data which are not true. Not true equals a lie, does it not?
- The “technology” singular of Big Data will automatically discover and present business opportunities. Shucks, I though magic happened, particularly when dissimilation was involved.
- “Harvesting more data” automatically generates “more value.” There’s that magic again. I was stunned to learn that collecting information does not automatically equal much of anything. If there is one thing easy to collect, it is digital information.
- “Good” data scientists similar those who work at Blue Chip and Azure Chip consulting firms? No matter. The “good data scientists” cannot “find value” for a paying customer. Is this a hedge to prevent consulting firm clients from alleging that the Big Data services did not yield a pot of gold?
Big Data, like most of the technology buzzwords, short circuit harried executives’ prudence. The silver tongued are able to invoke MBAisms and close deals. The benefits of those deals are often very difficult to pinpoint, quantify, or understand.
Write ups that are blunt tips on probing questions are amusing. I wonder if there is Big Data to make clear how many Big Data projects end up like other digital information silver bullets; that is, shooting blanks. Bang. Bang. Bang. That’s value.
Stephen E Arnold, April 27, 2015
April 23, 2015
I read “Study: Googling Gives You an Inflated Sense of Your Own Intelligence.” Let’s assume that the data are statistically significant and good enough to earn the researchers a high mark in Psych 200.
The article reports that Yale University researchers learned that:
The people who had used search engines to look up the answers in the first part of the experiment rated their abilities higher than the people who were given text. In other words, the act of searching the internet made people believe they knew more about everything.
The write up points out:
“If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s very apparent to you that you don’t know, and it takes time and effort to find the answer,” Matthew Fischer, one of the researchers, told the American Psychological Association. “With the internet, the lines become blurry between what you know and what you think you know.”
I mentioned to a former Gartner consultant that the issue of “you don’t know what you don’t know” is one that leads to some interesting decisions. These range from licensing an enterprise search system and then discovering that users cannot find their documents to investing tens of thousands in a Web site redesign only to discover that Google’s crawler down checks the site because it is not mobile friendly.
You may have your own “you don’t know what you don’t know moment.” I suppose one could search Google and just accept what the ad oracle delivers. On the other hand, one can just guess. I am not sure how many knowledge workers want to do the old fashioned, “learn the hard way” type work. Maybe it is better to ask a Windows Phone? That works really well.
Stephen E Arnold, April 23, 2015
April 15, 2015
I read “Cynicism and Experience.” I am retired, and I spend my days FURminating my ageing white boxer.
As I brushed, I recalled a statement in Gulliver’s Travels. You know, Swift, Jonny Boy, who wrote:
This made me reflect, how vain an attempt it is for a man to endeavor to do himself honor among those who are out of all degree of equality or comparison with him.
Heartened, I then scanned some of copious flows of content from my Overflight system, which keeps me posted on information germane to search and content processing.
The system displayed a link to an article which urges me to use my experience in a non cynical way. I suppose Jonathan Swift’s first tutor told him to knock off with the characterizations of those who fell under his gaze.
He did not.
And, to be truthful, I am not likely to change my approach either.
The write up, which is the work of a person who seems to be much younger than I, recognizes that there are a few, not many, but a few benefits of having experience. In my case, I started work after I graduated from college in 1966 and have been chugging along through graduate school and beyond for—let’s see, what is the tally?—49 years.
I find the admonitions of those more youthful than I interesting. For example, I learned:
It can be fun to be the wise elder telling legends of the great monster you barely escaped in your younger days.
Yep, it is. The good news is that I have a wealth of information upon which to draw. The bad news, for those whom I find as “interesting” produce a cornucopia of triggers.
I also learned:
If you don’t share experience with others, your effectiveness will never scale beyond your own efforts. If you impart your battle scars on others without considering the circumstances in which they were inflicted, people who believe you will miss out on awesome things. The challenge of the experienced developer is to pass on wisdom without passing on dogma, but most developers think their personal experience should be enshrined as a best practice.
I have a tutor. My tutor winces each time I translate one of my observations into her native language. She said yesterday, “You should not reference the characters in the dialogs as drug dealers.”
Okay, I understand. When she is not working with me three times a week, she helps children, lost souls, and victims of assorted disasters.
I find the contrast between our world views a reminder that the ability to identify lessons, cautions, and warning signs a skill not everyone possesses.
Consequently I approach the content I monitor with a variation on my instructor’s selflessness. For example, I point out that Watson is an expensive effort that has essentially a low probability of hitting the revenue goal of $10 billion by 2020. I find the craziness of search and content processing firms funny. Explanations of how such and such technology can process “all an organization’s information” are my equivalent of the Three Stooges’ routine involving assorted face slaps. I often get tears in my eyes when I read the puffery on the LinkedIn enterprise search discussions. One amusing incident involves a new hire pontificating about the future of his company which has burned through $20 million plus and has been trampled by another outfit in the manner of Real Madrid defeating Granada.
The write up includes a puppy break. I like this type of puppy because it demonstrates what is beneath the surface of the entitlement-style approach of many ever so young experts, analysts, and commentators. Perhaps callow is a better word? No, jejune. I quite like jejune.
I found this passage suitable for presentation in a Typeslab graphic:
Imagine yourself as a wise elder, bitten once before by a project that used the Ook! programming language. The project was to build a social network specifically for people who hate social networks. You used the web framework Ook! on Oreos, but even then it turns out a language built around manually moving pointers around an array using grunts made it hard to build a modern web application. The project failed, and you learned.
My mind generates an image of an unmarried teacher with the glorious name Miss Soapes. Yes, Ms. Soapes. She was good at giving me and everyone in her charge “advice.” I listened to her and rejected that which did not match my approach. She struck me as out of touch with reality. You know. The real world of conniving, disrespectful, sometimes cruel seventh graders.
I do not recall anyone in our seventh grade class heeding her suggestions which did not match the zoom zoom world of 1956. Oh, wait. Yes, there was one person who followed Miss Soapes’ plan for life. Lois had much promise but it ended in repetitive life abuse. Sad. Lois, like Miss Soapes, was sure of herself, but uninformed.
Call me prescient, but I have had an effective early warning system for advice delivered with apparent reasonableness. Yes, ex cathedra. Yes, a chimerical throne.
In the write up, the kicker for me was this statement:
The difference between saying “I used X and it sucked” and “I used X for Y and it didn’t work out because of Z” is the difference between becoming experienced and simply growing cynical. Be experienced, not cynical.
Nah, I want to to make the message clear.
Keeping parents happy or vendors who foist questionable software upon clueless customers does not interest me. I tolerate with difficulty those who want every child to get a gold star and an A for effort.
Yes, puppies. How lovable.
The puppy with the teeth probably got the most food. I quite like the author’s word choice. “Sucked” has a Miltonic touch. How better to convey a nuance that with “sucked.”
I wish there were a FURminator for some other modest problems in life.
Stephen E Arnold, April 15, 2015
April 9, 2015
I have to hand it to the mid tier consultants. Just when I thought the baloney about enterprise search had begun to recede, I learned I was wrong. That puts me in my place.
Search is now “endpoint computing.” I know this because I received an email from the incubator-spawned X1 search company. I have tested X1 over the years, and I have come to think neutral thoughts about the company’s administrative options and its interface.
The method of communicating with me was a somewhat dry email that began with the salutation, “Hello.”
The email offered me a report by the ever fascinating Gartner Group. The point of the email is that X1 is a cool vendor. That’s nice. Curious I clicked on the link and was redirected to this page:
Okay, a lead generating system. I filled out the information and then I received another email. This one was a bit more serious.
The author, an earnest person named “Janice” wanted to speak with me to discuss my search requirement. Furthermore the person looks forward to speaking with me about “unified search and discovery for virtual, cloud, and hybrid environments.” X1 was founded in 2003and has experienced several management changes, which is common in the “unified search and discovery for virtual, cloud, and hybrid environments” market.
What makes X1 cool? To answer the question I had to read the Gartner Report, a task which I know is a chore.
The idea is that search is now endpoint computing. Okay. I guess. The report reassures me that the information in the report is not an “exhaustive list of vendors.” That’s good because in the report there are five companies mentioned:
- Login Consultants, a workspace consultant, but I don’t know what this term means
- Tanium, a company offering endpoint security and systems management, which strikes me as a consulting outfit
- X1, a search and retrieval vendor offering desktop search, eDiscovery, and enterprise search
- Kaviza (a where are they now company which puzzles me) a virtualized desktop outfit now owned by Citrix
- Framehawk (another where are they outfit), a company in the high definition user experience business (I have no idea what this means). Apparently Citrix does because Citrix also acquired Framehawk.
Quite an eclectic list. I remember when I worked at Ziff Communications in Manhattan. I listened to a group of editors working up a list of top trends over lunch. So much for methodology. The approach produced a somewhat eclectic list which was, in my opinion, of little value. The list was silly. But these were professionals. Who was I?
So the Gartner list is neither exhaustive nor coherent from my point of view.
What’s cool about X1 search as endpoint computing?
According to the mid tier consulting firms’ authors, X1 is cool because:
“Implementing VDI that provides a user experience that’s equal or superior to a distributed PC environment has been a huge challenge for organizations. While much of the innovation in the VDI space over the past few years has been focused on reducing cost and complexity, some vendors, like X1, have concentrated on removing barriers or exceptions that make VDI a compromise rather than a business enabler.” (page 3)
In the context of the firms profiled by Gartner’s “expert, the explanation of the X1 cool factor baffles me. I am not confused. I just don’t know what Gartner is trying to communicate.
I have several thoughts running through my head:
First, Gartner obviously has a financial model in place that makes it possible for the mid tier consulting firm to crank out analyses that seem to be authoritative. On closer inspection, the terminology and the information provided are not particularly useful. Does Gartner write these for free and allow the “cool” vendors to distribute these analyses for free? Why do I get a copy for free? Hmmm.
Second, there are obviously companies which value the Gartner endorsement even if it is not exactly clear what the message is. These companies—specifically X1—have seized upon the Gartner report as a way to generate leads and sales. I have no problem with that, but sending information that makes sense would appeal to me more than what I perceive as “information free” commentary.
Third, I continue to worry about the chance for meaningful discourse about the relative merits of information retrieval systems. The presentation of vendors in the context of buzzwords does little to convince me of the merits of X1 or the credibility of Gartner Group. I suppose that is why there are blue chip consulting firms and mid tier (azure chip) consulting firms. One good point: Unlike IDC’s Dave Schubmehl, the report was not $3,500 available on Amazon with my name slapped on as the “author.”
Score one for Gartner’s merrie band.
Stephen E Arnold, April 9, 2015
March 31, 2015
I saw a tweet about a new report from a mid tier consulting firm. I was interested because a former employee suggested that the company was “virtual.” None of the McKinsey/Booz Allen walnut paneling or assistants with cool accents. Folks work from Starbucks, home, or a tomb silent Barnes & Noble I assume.
The write up is “Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Application Platform as a Service Worldwide.” I am into magic. I believe in the tooth fairy. I know that there are pots of gold at the end of every rainbow.
But I was surprised to learn about EAPAASW. I think the idea is that cloud computing makes it possible to use Amazon, Google, or Salesforce instead of on premises implementations of hardware and software. I think that the idea is reasonably well accepted.
According to the report I saw, the mid tier consulting firm sees the world from a different perspective. I suppose I would too if I had to pay a mortgage, save for a child’s college fund, and make it through the day as a high powered technology expert. The segment I marked was:
Application infrastructure functionality, enriched with cloud characteristics and offered as a service, is platform as a service (PaaS). Gartner refers to it more precisely as cloud application infrastructure services. Application platform as a service (aPaaS) is a form of PaaS that provides a platform to support application development, deployment and execution in the cloud. It is a suite of cloud services designed to meet the prevailing application design requirements of the time, and, in 2015, includes mobile, cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analytics innovations.
This paragraph is chock full of buzzwords. And it sounds almost important with the Internet of Things, design requirements, and the hook “application infrastructure services.”
Now who are the big dogs in this kennel? Salesforce and Microsoft are the leaders. I find this interesting. Poor old Google is relegated to challenge status. Really? A challenger. Hmm.
The niche players are interesting because I recognized only one company in this group: Zoho. The others are essentially new to me. How many of these do your recognize as the niche players in this EAPAASW space? Engine Yard? OutSystems? CloudControl? NTT Communications? OrangeScape? Quite a mixed bag. I wonder if NTT Communications knows that it is a niche player against the likes of OrangeScape?
But who are the visionaries? This is a fascinating list because it mixes some large and confused outfits who are not in the Marco Polo category from my vantage point in Harrod’s Creek. check out these firms: IBM and SAP are visionaries?
But there are some others who can define the future; for example, Indra gnubila? Okay. Indra gnubila. Interesting. I wonder if IBM and SAP know much about that outfit or Mendex or MIOsoft for that matter? RedHat makes the list as does the ever sharp eyed Software AG. And what about Progress Software? Yep, still around. Still low profile. I think that outfit made a run at search and content processing and fell on its sword.
There is an interesting omission. Where is the modest outfit Amazon? Where is the giant and somewhat confused Hewlett Packard?
If you need to know about EAPAASW, check out this report. If the link goes bad, well, that’s life. On the other hand, if you find a report that makes Google a challenger and IBM a visionary, you may want this document now. If you are interested in the next big thing, Gartner has identified outfits which are likely to make your really wealth when you invest in them. I wonder if I can invest in Indra gnubila, which may not be exactly like Google. (See Gnubila.)
Quite a remarkable document from a mid tier consulting firm. Dave Schubmehl’s recycling of my research under his name on Amazon now faces a challenge in work from another mid tier firm. What’s next, experts?
Stephen E Arnold, March 31, 2015
March 21, 2015
Short honk: I couldn’t resist. I read “Apple Watch Is Like an Invasive Weed Says Gartner.” The idea is that Apple identifies a market (an ecosystem) and then acts like kudzu or a killer carp. Here’s a passage from the Register I highlighted:
Hetu [a Gartner “expert”] says Apple Pay and the Apple Watch are Cupertino’s new invaders, with the latter gadget set to “further revolutionize how consumers are influenced to purchase and their paths to making purchases.”
Colorful. Now let’s see if the Apple Watch is digital kudzu. I know that Gartner has one English major operating as a “search expert.” It seems another Gartner “wizard” is vying for the moniker of “Chief Metaphorist.”
Kudzu is a good way to characterize the thinking of mid tier consulting firms desperate to close deals, keep their jobs, and forget that outfits like McKinsey, Bain, and BCG may be out of reach. A happy quack to King County Government for the image.
Well, if it sells work to those with cash. More power to the mid tier crowd. (Will Dave Schubmehl, who sold a report with my name on it for $3,500 on Amazon, and his cohorts at IDC move beyond recycling and into the realm of poetry?)
Stephen E Arnold, March 21, 2015
March 17, 2015
I received this interesting email this morning (March 16, 2015).
Notice the logo. The email is from IDG Connect based in Staines, Middlesex, UK. Now look at this headline:
Acquia Identified as a “Strong Performer” in The Forrester Wave™: Web Content Management Systems, Q1 2015
When I clicked on the hyperlink in the title of the email, look what I found:
This is a list of the promotions IDC seems to have done for its competitors. I thought that “real” consultants did not cross over into the pastures of other consulting firms. Obviously I am incorrect in this assumption.
That leaves me with the hypothesis that IDC is promoting Forrester’s “wave”—the me-too to Gartner’s Magic Boston Consulting Group Variant Quadrant without the Analytics—for content management.
Whoa, Nellie. I thought that IDC was one outfit, happily placed in Boston, America’s first city. Emerson, witch burning, Route 128, and the Big Dig. The marketing arm of IDG for this email comes from merrie old England. Is this content marketing and information shaping at a fairly interlocking level? What else do these mid tier consulting firms share? Client lists? Client problems? Content used without the permission of people like me who write stuff and then have it repurposed under a so-called expert’s name. (Yep, Dave Schubmehl again.)
Here’s what the email to me said:
We are pleased to announce that Acquia is a “Strong Performer” in The Forrester Wave™: Web Content Management Systems, Q1 2015. “Acquia’s standout features include the cloud strategy, solid content management and delivery functionality, and a strong developer community and component ecosystem.” Like Forrester, we believe that digital experience delivery is the strategic technology investment for every brand. Ready to see the results? Download your complimentary copy today.
As you may know, IDC’s Dave Schubmehl (remember him, the search wizard) sold my content on Amazon. Now it appears that I can get a free report via the IDC email for the ordinarily “real money” research from Forrester. Confused yet?
When I clicked on the Click Here button I received a copy of Ted Schadler’s “The Forrester Wave: Web Content Management Systems, Q1 2015 report. Here’s the link. Give it a while, but not promises: http://www.idgconnect-resources.com/rt.asp?I=5E892X4874X6&L=1627905
Who’s Forrester’s Ted Schadler? I have his photo.
A quick check online reveals that Ted Schadler has a Forrester blog called “Ted Schadler’s Blog.” He covers quite a few topics; for example, broadband, Web content management, Internet regulation, free Web publishing systems, and experience gaps. He is a bit of a Leonardo it seems, and he has some marketing in his DNA too.
Intrigued, I ran a query for his name and IDG/IDC. Mr. Schadler has been a speaker at IDG’s tony CIO conference. Mr. Schadler’s topic was described this way:
Collaboration across the C-suite and the challenge of transitioning to a digital enterprise will have a special focus at this year’s event, which also features opening keynotes by Tom Davenport, author of “big data @ work,” and Forrester Research’s Ted Schadler, author of “The Mobile Mind Shift.” The symposium concludes with an awards ceremony recognizing the 2014 CIO 100 winners.
I will try to keep track of what mid tier (what I call an azure chip) consulting firm is promoting other of the same ilk.
If I were paying for one consulting firm, would I check to make sure my firm’s private information does not leak? I sure would.
Stephen E Arnold, March 17, 2015
February 15, 2015
I want to make sure that you are sitting down. Take a deep breath. Okay, now you are ready to enter the twilight zone of predictions generated by a mid tier consulting firm. You can read the modern Michel de Nostradamus’ prophecies in “Gartner Predicts Three Big Data Trends for Business Intelligence.”
The heir to Nostradamus may don a more stylish type of garb when making predictions.
Here we go.
Prophecy I. Big Data will goose reinvention of business processes and products. I, for one, am looking forward to a new type of air travel. My recollection is that it has been unchanged for decades.
Prophecy II. Data brokers will thrive. Okay, intermediaries. Sounds good in except that disintermediation seems to be the trend if the research for CyberOSINT is on the beam.
Prophecy III. I am not sure what this means. Here’s the sentence which caused my personal Yugo’s wheels to spin.”By 2017, more than 20% of customer facing analytic deployments will provide product tracking information leveraging IoT [the Internet of Things].”
Here in Harrod’s Creek, we don’t think too much about prophesies. The future is a slippery fish. For Gartner, their “experts” wear Glacier Glove Ice Bay Fishing Gloves. I wonder if this prophecy was left on the floor of the fish prep room:
Volcanic fire from the center of the earth
will cause trembling around the new city:
Two great rocks will make war for a long time.
Then Arethusa will redden a new river. Source.
Stephen E Arnold, February 15, 2015