September 28, 2014
I read “Hewlett Packard Autonomy Lawsuit Accord Questioned by Judge.” I marked this passage as an indication that HP’s announcement about a new 3D printer is not distracting US District Judge Charles Breyer. The write up states:
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco, who earlier held up approval of the settlement over how much lawyers would be paid, Friday told company attorneys he’s concerned the deal would rob investors of the right to sue management over matters unrelated to the purchase.
Also, one big bucks outfit expressed some concern that certain aspects of HP management behavior may need some sunlight. Navigate to “CalPERS Says HP/Autonomy Shareholder Settlement Needs More Work.” I noted this passage in the article:
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer dated Tuesday, CalPERS said the judge should not approve the deal before both sides disclose the amount of fees plaintiff attorneys would recover. As it stands, the proposed civil settlement would leave shareholders “in the dark” about one of its key terms, CalPERS said in the letter.
Now about that 3D printer? “Market Brands HP’s 3D Printing Comments “Worrisome.” As long as a mid tier consultant explains HP’s 3D printer play in this way, HP will have to deal with the buzz about Autonomy:
In the end, HP will target the 3D printer opportunities that align with its technology and overall strategy. And as the company has said but which has been misunderstood by many people, HP will make technology announcements this fall only to make its 3D printers available later.
Does HP have control of its communications or will tweets from an outfit like IDC turn the tide? The September 22, 2014 tweets about HP are similar in the impact to the “In the end” statement above:
Dave Schubmehl @dschubmehl · Sep 22 HP #IDOL and #Vertica power #HPHAVEn to deliver new insights from structured and unstructured information to impact marketing #HPEngage2014 Replied to 0 times
I quite like the zero times.
Stephen E Arnold, September 28, 2014
September 11, 2014
I love IDG, the publishing / services company founded by Pat McGovern in 1964. Mr. McGovern spoke to me about joining the company. I was an executive at Ziff Communications Co. He seemed like a nice guy. I recall he had on a plain blue suit, white shirt, and red tie. I think that every time I saw him at a conference or in a snapshot, he had on that attire.
I decided to deflect his interest in me. I did not get happy vibes from him. Bill Ziff, on the other hand, emitted a presence and triggered singing and dancing vibes. So what da ya think? Culture maybe? Integrity radar beep?
IDG owns IDC, an outfit that has used my content over the years. Most recently, one of the IDG/IDC “experts” surfed on my name, selling a heavily modified version of a report I wrote about Attivio. Did I get paid? Nah. Did the expert, Dave Schubmehl, I believe sign a contract with me? Nah.
Does this provide some insight into the pressure on IDG / IDC to make money without thinking too much about the methods? Hmmm.
When I read “IDG Shutters Macworld Magazine, Much of the Editorial Staff Let Go,” I had three thoughts race through my admittedly small mind:
- There will be more cost reducing measures. This is not the dropping of a single shoe. It may signal a semi carrying print titles that is losing its load.
- Too bad for the IDGers who have to look for work elsewhere. Leaving a company that seems to be starting a slim down plan to deal with cost issues is not the blue ribbon it was in the triage years after the crash in 2008. There’s a recovery, right?
- Are there other examples of rising pressure causing interesting business decisions? Surfing on my name by selling a report that puts some sparkle on the Las Vegas dancer’s costume is different from blue chip consulting methods. See this story for some color.
The article points out that the Macworld Web site will not be killed off. Some staff have been sent packing.
Not too surprising.
Stephen E Arnold, September 11, 2014
August 29, 2014
Short honk: I found this item amusing: “America’s Tech Guru Steps Down—But He’s Not Done Rebooting the Government.” Let’s see. There was Healthcare.gov and then the missing IRS emails. I heard about a few other minor glitches, but these are not germane. The notion is that a “tech guru” can fix government IT from outside the government. I think this means getting into the consulting and engineering services game.
Optimism is evident; for example:
Park wants to move government IT into the open source, cloud-based, rapid-iteration environment that is second nature to the crowd considering his pitch tonight. The president has given reformers like him leave, he told them, “to blow everything … up and make it radically better.”
Okay, I suppose some folks are waiting. Will Booz Allen, CSC, SAIC, SRA, and IBM Federal lose sleep tonight? Nope. Some will probably be chuckling as I did.
This is a get funding, bill, submit engineering change order, bill, get funding, etc. etc. world. Improvement is usually a lower priority task whether one is inside or outside the entity.
Stephen E Arnold, August 29, 2014
August 28, 2014
Every time I see my story about Dave Schubmehl’s surfing on my name, I think about the paucity of innovation among the low- and mid-tier consulting firms. It is not sufficient to lack creativity. Success appears to require surfing on the insights of others. For more on the Schubmehl surfing angle, please, navigate to “ “Meme of the Moment” and “IDC and Reports by Schubmehl.” For ethical issue related to some firms’ actions, see “Are HP, Google, and IDC Out of Square.”
Please review the Marketwired story “The Radicati Group Releases Enterprise Content Management – Market Quadrant, 2014.” This analysis is not like the original Boston Consulting Group’s grid analysis from the late 1970s. That method was based on such data as market share, return on investment, revenue, and other “hard” information.
This “quadrant” seems quite similar to the Gartner Group’s “quadrant” now the subject of a legal action by Netscout. For the details of the Netscout allegation, you will find Netscout’s view of the situation at http://wp.me/pf6p2-aAo.
The Radicati approach eschews dogs, stars, cows, and question markets for:
- Mature players
- Trail blazers
- Top players.
Are these categories connotative and subjective? Can a trail blazer be a top player or mature player? Oh, what’s a player? Hmm.
The idea is that the Radicati analysts have created a way to map enterprise content management vendors against these categories. The hope, I assume, is that a potential licensee of one of these systems will use the Radicati’s research as a guide to purchases.
I also find it interesting that the “Radicati Market Quadrants” phrase is a service mark. Like the IDC surfing on my name issue, the inspiration from BCG’s notion is not referenced. Will potential purchasers confuse low- and mid-tier consulting firm’s quadrants with those produced by blue-chip Boston Consulting?
Nah. Just another example of the challenges consulting firms face in today’s business climate. If you are interested, there is a helpful explanation of the BCG approach at http://bit.ly/1pa5m4A.
That’s what many of these “quadrants” suggest: The work of a student trying to improve a mark. In today’s environment, doing what is expedient seems to be a popular approach. Content marketing is one way to become visible I assume.
Another, more difficult path, is to craft an original question to answer and then perform research and analysis to help answer that question.
Wow. What consulting firms have time and the expertise to tackle investigations in this manner? I can name some who avoid this approach like the plague.
Stephen E Arnold, August 28, 2014
August 19, 2014
I read “PR Workers Outnumber Journalists in the US.” This write up surprised me for two reasons. I thought that the ratio for PR people to “real” journalists was higher than five PR types to one “real” journalist types. Second, the sample does not seem to include low tier and mid tier consultants who may be PR folk wearing the garb of shaman.
Qualifications for PR professionals vary widely. I recall the halcyon days when I was supposed to provide oversight to a company’s PR outfit. The firm was Ketchum, Macleod. The PR professionals I encountered were friendly sorts and very good at billing. How does one bill a client for 160 hours and handle several other accounts? Magic, I assumed. The pros were adept at bridge, offering to take me out, and confusing my deadlines with other people’s deadlines. It all ended happily. I met with a former Marine and chatted about the magic of billing. Happiness ensured. Did I mention that the PR pros had worked at college newspapers, rock radio stations, and interpersonal networking. Interesting work indeed.
Are PR professionals engaging in a variant of All Hallow’s Day festivities. Image source: http://bit.ly/YtNmwU
The data on which the article is based does not appear to include “rentals.” These are folks who are positioned as experts and generate content. I suggest you read the rather interesting legal document about Gartner Group at http://slidesha.re/1pPsY21.
Another thought that struck me is that outfits like IDC use third party content, edit it, and put their “experts” name on them are engaged in quasi PR. See http://bit.ly/1thUZAJ. In the case of the Schubmehl affair, IDC sold edited and cheerful versions of my research for $3,500. (My attorney was able to stop the sale of these documents carrying the name of the IDC expert, Dave Schubmehl in July 2014.) Are these documents gussied up PR? Are these documents sweetened to facilitate sales? Are these documents the work on which Pat McGovern built his company? PR? You figure it out.
The point is that if one includes the data set in the “Outnumber” article and mix in the “experts” who sell third party endorsements, the number of PR purveyors goes up. Five to one is, in my view, conservative. A different methodology might inflate the ratio. Seven to one? Nine to one? I don’t know. Five to one seems conservative.
The point is that when organizations and individuals need money, almost anything goes. Heroin? No problem. Failing to pay postage? No problem. Surfing on another’s reputation to further one’s own career? No problem. Generating PR dressed up like the All Hallow’s Eve celebrants? No problem.
Stephen E Arnold, August 19, 2014
August 18, 2014
I find CMS Wire quite interesting. A number of the articles are by consultants and some seem quite vendor centric. In general, it is a useful way to keep track of what’s hot and what’s not in the world of content management. Like knowledge management or anything with the word “management” in its moniker, I am not sure what these disciplines embrace. Like the equally fuzzy notion of predicative analytics, I find that the aura of meaning often at odds with reality. Whether it is the failure of certain professionals to “predict” problems with the caliphate or whether it focuses on predicting which start up with be the next big thing, the here and now are often slippery, surprising, and, at times, baffling.
Not in “How Vendors learn to Play the Gartner Game.” This is a darned good write up and it introduces a bound phrase I find intellectually satisfying: “the Gartner Game.” I understand Scrabble and checkers. More sophisticated games are beyond my ken. I am not able to play the Gartner Game, but I can enjoy certain aspects of it.
The article explains the game clearly:
Now, in fairness, just because someone gives you a wad of cash — even in the form of extra business — it’s no guarantee you’ll write something favorable. Trust me on this: Back when news was still reported in daily papers and reporters were wooed with more insincerity than a contestant on The Bachelor, it was customary for sources to send gifts.
My own brush with Gartner-like firms was a bit different. I did not expect to see a report with my name on sold on Amazon from late 2012 to July 2014. Why? I provided content/research to IDC, a Gartner competitor. IDC took the information, created reports, and sold those reports. I received no contract. No sales reports. When one of the documents turned up on Amazon, I realized that an IDC expert named Schubmehl was surfing on my work.
I wrote a short commentary about the apparent erosion of certain business practices. In that article, I found a thread connecting the HP problem with the post office, the Google executive’s brush with heroin and a female not involved in Kolmogorov analyses, and IDC’s Schubmehl. In each case, executives made decisions that probably seemed really good at the time. Over time, the decisions proved to be startling. I mean the post office and postage. Horrific. I mean the Google wizard who ended up dead on a yacht while his wife took care of the kids. Professionally clumsy. I mean an “expert” who writes reports taking another person’s information and using it to close information centric deals.
I don’t know much about the world of mid tier consulting firms. I worked for a number of years at a pretty good outfit, Booz, Allen & Hamilton. I did some work for other consulting firms as well. I do not recall a single instance of a failure to pay postage, a colleague flat lining from heroin, or a professional on our team using another’s work or name to make professional hay.
None of these actions surprise me. I am getting older and I suppose I am able to cruise forward in Harrod’s Creek without worrying about the situational decisions that produce some interesting business situations. Exciting stuff this world of mid tier consulting and the unbounded scope of action some executives enjoy. Wow. Postage, heroin, and using another’s name to look informed. Amazing.
I will expand on this notion of “loose governance” in one of my columns. This notion of “governance” is an intriguing topic in knowledge management.
As Einstein said:
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
Stephen E Arnold, August 15, 2014
August 14, 2014
Short honk: I don’t have too much to say about “Gartner: Internet of Things Has Reached Hype Peak .” Wow will have to suffice. The diagram in the article is amazing as well. A listicle is pretty darned limited when compared to a plotting of buzzwords from a consulting firm that vies with McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting, and Booz for respect. Another angle on this article is that it is published by a company that has taken a frisky approach to other folks’ information. For some background, check out “Are HP, Google, and IDC Out of Square.” I wanted to assemble a list of the buzzwords in the Network World article, but even for my tireless goslings, the task was too much. I could not figure out what the legends on the x and y axis meant. Do you know what a “plateau of productivity” is. I am not sure what “productivity” means unless I understand the definition in use by the writer.
One fact jumps out for me:
“As enterprises embark on the journey to becoming digital businesses, they will leverage technologies that today are considered to be ‘emerging’,” said Hung LeHong, vice president and Gartner fellow. “Understanding where your enterprise is on this journey and where you need to go will not only determine the amount of change expected for your enterprise, but also map out which combination of technologies support your progression.”
The person making this statement probably has a good handle on the unpleasantness of a legal dispute. For some color, please, see “Gartner Magic Quadrant in the News: Netscount Matter.”
Stephen E Arnold. August 14, 2014
August 11, 2014
The write up reports that “Netscout is suing research firm Gartner, accusing it of unfair practices in its construction of a Magic Quadrant, citing pay to play.” The magic quadrant lingo is important because it is different language than that used by Bruce D. Henderson in the early 1970s.
This is likely to be a contentious matter. You can find the court filing in the Diginomica story. The document is about 60 pages long and probably not suited for consumption on an iPhone whilst driving.
Who are the folks involved in the squabble?
Netscout offers what it calls “unified service delivery management solutions.” The company is publicly traded and reported revenue of about $400 million in revenue. You can get more information via Google Finance at http://bit.ly/1mCtlJI and information about Netscout at www.netscout.com.
Gartner is a consulting and services firm generating about $1.8 billion per year in revenue. You can get more information via Google finance at http://bit.ly/1kWiX4x. Details about Gartner’s products and services are available at www.gartner.com.
I don’t have any experience or dealings with either firm. Will the interaction end in a race track accident like that at Canandaigua Motorsports Park?
The Gartner Magic Quadrant, in my opinion, is a variation of the Boston Consulting Group’s diagram containing a star, cow, dog, and question mark. The BCG method, if I recall my Booz, Allen charm school lesson, is that a ton of expensive analytic work was presented to often sluggish corporate types in one simple chart.
Here’s an example of the BCG approach recreated by Marketing Health Online:
I remember that a “dog” was not good. Dogs should be sold, killed, or kicked to the side of the road. It was definitely good to the a “star.” Stars generate revenue and illuminate the new BMW or yacht the manager of the star could buy with a bonus. The “cow” gave recurring revenues. When the cow stopped pumping out milk, then it morphed into a dog. A question mark required more analysis and, hence, more consulting work for our competitor.
The x axis reports the market share from high to low and the y axis represents market growth. High is good and BCG generated data and analysis to prove what was good. Low is bad and BCG displayed data that explained why something was a dog and should be treated with extreme prejudice.
The key to the BCG grid was its utter simplicity parked on top of hundreds of thousands or dollars invested in BCG time, analysis, and data crunching by fairly bright individuals from pretty good schools. My employer, Booz, Allen & Hamilton, was never able to create such a compelling graphic to drive business, but we did “invent” program evaluation and review techniques or PERT charts. You know our work as PERT charts. But that BCG method was a burr under the Booz, Allen saddles. We couldn’t rip off the approach. That was against the rules when I worked at the blue chip outfit. I have no idea what the rules are today.
Gartner’s chart is different, using words, lots of words when compared to the BCG chart looks similar. Here’s the graphic from Diginomica’s write up:
My hunch is that the legal eagles would take flight if an actual, 100 percent pure magic quadrant were reproduced in the article. (Note: you can download a representative magic quadrant from one of the companies included in the report. You will have to do some Googling to find a “real” MQ report. Have fun!)
If the information in the Diginomica write up is accurate, it seems that BCG’s legendary rigor may not be exactly duplicated by Gartner’s “experts.” I am skeptical of the saucisson generated by any consulting firm, but some saucisson is judged by gourmands as better than others.
Vendors regard analyst services as part of their marketing, which in turn supports sales. The lawsuit makes this very clear. Buyers view the Gartner MQ as a validation point. Gartner plays on this, selling it to the the vendors on the basis that no-one buys technology without making a decision based upon a Gartner MQ. It’s a subtle form of implied blackmail that discriminates against the smaller vendors. When a mega vendor cuts a $1 million check to Gartner, no-one notices. But when an early stage business find itself having to stump $50-100,000 then that’s an altogether different matter that gets sucked out of limited marketing resource.
The Diginomica analysis points out that another company tried to sue Gartner in 2009 and “lost their fight with Gartner.”
Is this legal dust up different? Who knows.
- Analysis and consulting opinions are often pretty wild and crazy. I remember the analysis that preceded our implementation of the Marketing Analysis and Reporting System (MARS) for Bellcore in 1985 as quite the cat’s pajamas. Well, we know how the IBM MVS TSO environment worked out for end users who were not into green screens, or fans of keyboards with lots of extra keys.
- The BCG matrix is now part of the intellectual woodwork for anyone with an MBA. It just makes it so easy to explain why some products and companies are losers. It is an SU 35 for selling more consulting work for companies other than BCG, a firm which still adheres to the old fashioned analysis, analysis, and more analysis method of consulting.l .
- Who cares what today’s mid tier third party advisors say?For the hourly worker at Wendy’s, a graphic with lots of words is probably less compelling than a snapshot of a Kardashian. Content marketing is the name of the game today. Clicks, sales leads, and revenue—the Red Bull for success.
Take a look at the Diginomica article. This interaction will be fun to watch. I wonder if it will be possible to plot the matter using a BCG matrix?
Stephen E Arnold, August 11, 2014
August 5, 2014
I have mentioned recent “expert analyses” of the enterprise search and content marketing sector. In my view, these reports are little more than gussied up search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing plays. See, for example, this description of the IDC report about “knowledge quotient”. Sounds good, right. So does most content marketing and PR generated by enterprise search vendors trying to create sustainable revenue and sufficient profits to keep the investors on their boats, in their helicopters, and on the golf course. Disappointing revenues are not acceptable to those with money who worry about risk and return, not their mortgage payment.
Some content processing vendors are in need of sales leads. Others are just desperate for revenue. The companies with venture money in their bank account have to deliver a return. Annoyed funding sources may replace company presidents. This type of financial blitzkrieg has struck BA Insight and LucidWorks. Other search vendors are in legal hot water; for example, one Fast Search & Transfer executive and two high profile Autonomy Corp. professionals. Other companies tap dance from buzzword to catchphrase in the hopes of avoiding the fate of Convera, Delphes, or Entopia. The marketing beat goes on, but the revenues for search solutions remains a challenge. How will IBM hit $10 billion in Watson revenues in five or six years? Good question, but I know the answer. Perhaps accounting procedures might deliver what looks like a home run for Watson. Perhaps the Jeopardy winner will have to undergo Beverly Hills-style plastic surgery? Will the new Watson look like today’s Watson? I would suggest that some artificiality could be discerned.
Last week, one of my two or three readers wrote to inform me that the phrase “knowledge quotient” is a registered trademark. One of my researchers told me that when one uses the phrase “knowledge quotient,” one should include the appropriate symbol. Omission can mean many bad things, mostly involving attorneys:
Another one of the goslings picked up the vaporous “knowledge quotient” and poked around for other uses of the word. Remember. I encountered this nearly meaningless quasi academic jargon in the title of an IDC report about content processing, authored by the intrepid expert Dave Schubmehl.
According to one of my semi reliable goslings, the phrase turned up in a Portland State University thesis. The authors were David Clitheroe and Garrett Long.
The trademark was registered in 2004 by Penn State University. Yep, that’s the university which I associate with an unfortunate management “issue.” According to Justia, the person registering the phrase “knowledge quotient” was a Penn State employee named Gene V J Maciol.
So we are considering a chunk of academic jargon cooked up to fulfill a requirement to get an advanced degree in sociology in 1972. That was about 40 years ago. I am not familiar with sociology or the concept knowledge quotient.
I printed out the 111 page document and read it. I do have some observations about the concept and its relationship to search and content processing. Spoiler alert: Zero, none, zip, nada, zilch.
The topic of the sociology paper is helping kids in trouble. I bristled at the assumptions implicit in the write up. Some cities had sufficient resources to help children. Certain types of faculties are just super. I assume neither of the study’s authors were in a reformatory, orphanage, or insane asylum.
Anyway the phrase “knowledge quotient” is toothless. It means, according to page 31:
the group’s awareness and knowledge of the [troubled youth or orphan] home.
And the “quotient” part? Here it is in all its glory:
A knowledge quotient reflects the group’s awareness and knowledge of the home.
August 4, 2014
I read “Cloud Revenue Jumps, Led by Old Computing Titans.” If you have a hard copy of the “real” journalism Mt. Parnassus, you can find this story in the August 4, 2014 version delivered to Kentucky. Online, the story carries an August 3, 2014 date and, if you are quick, you may be able to locate it at http://nyti.ms/1xUXLw9.
I found the write up fascinating because the guts of the story pivot on three firms engaged in selling consulting services: Synergy, Gartner, and IDC. The facts of the article appear to come from the financial reports and other public statements of Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft. As real news goes, relying on “experts” and somewhat broad groupings of financial information continues to make the wheels of commerce go round. I like it. The confection is an excellent Twinkie-like approach to a diaphanous, hard to define topic—the cloud.
This cookbook does not explain how to whip up interest in consultant reports, the activities of large companies, or the specifics of some ingredients. An oversight it seems.
There were a couple of passages in the write up that I found thought starters.
Here’s the first item, a quote from a Synergy expert:
It’s not just talk—they are backing it up with a lot of investment.
I presume this is a reference to Amazon’s spending which seems to have put the company in the company of bears, IBM’s bet the farm approach to its tactics to keep the company an investment my grandmother would love, and Microsoft which is fresh from its knock-it-out-of-the-park mobile phone and Windows 8 initiatives.
A second passage begins “The so called magic quadrant…” and ends with the paragraph beginning “Amazon is still the star.” In between this atta boy for Gartner’s work is an interesting grammatical construction:
This year, helped by the [IBM] acquisition of Soft Layer, a cloud start up, and its own internal investment, it [IBM] has moved sharply to the right and higher thought it is not yet in the leaders area—the vision is strong, according to Gartner, but the executive still lags a bit.”
I am not trained in poetry, although I think some of the search analysts are, indeed, English majors. But I find these points remarkable:
- In a report by experts, IBM has moved. Now did IBM move or did an expert move IBM. The suggestion that IBM can move its $100 billion hulk around a “magic quadrant” drew a yellow highlight from me. I suppose I could have written, my yellow highlighted moved from the table to the paper and marked a yellow line, but that leaves out the who doesn’t it?
- I like the idea that an acquisition and internal development trigger the movement of IBM.
- In a moment of hedging, the New York Times’ writer added that Gartner analyzed IBM and found that its execution lagged. Okay, so IBM cannot deliver cloud whatever very well.
Third, I noted the disclaimer paragraph:
Measurements in the cloud marketplace are tricky. Companies define their cloud businesses differently. And the big companies do not report their cloud revenue or profit separately, although they do occasionally make statements.
High fives all around because no one knows much about what “cloud” means and the companies are not particularly generous with facts. The flow of baloney, however, appears to have caught the attention of the “experts” and the real journalists.
Please, read the original because it is a tribute to the public relations folks who labored to create this cloud stuff.
My interest is, as you may know, search. Now search has moved to the cloud, and there are some examples. The problem is that hard data about the ease with which the services can be deployed, the costs of the system over time, and the amount of customization required to deliver an acceptable service are sparse, not available, or made up.
Search from the cloud seems to be small potatoes. Sure, there are search services available from Amazon, and I suppose one can assume that the billion dollar bet on Watson will be cloud friendly someday. Microsoft cloud search is best experienced first hand. Fire up Windows 8.1 and run a query. You can see how the system deals with local, SkyDrive (once OneDrive), and Web content. A money maker for sure I assume.
I like certain time sharing services. However, I do not like Hollywood style naming and I do not like unsubstantiated assertions presented as fact. If you find this type of Twinkie satisfying, gorge yourself on the mid tier consulting firms’ outputs. Let me know how reality matches up to a sector where measurements are tricky and facts are not available.
Stephen E Arnold, August 4, 2014