July 28, 2014
Content marketing hath embraced the mid tier consulting firms. IDC, an outfit that used my information without my permission from 2012 until July 2014, has published a study about “knowledge.” I was not able to view the entire report, but the executive summary was available for download at http://bit.ly/1l10sGH. (Verified at 11 am, July 25, 2014) If you have some extra money, you may want to pay an IDC scale fee to learned about “the knowledge quotient.”
I am looking forward to the full IDC report, which promises to be as amusing as a recent Gartner report about search. The idea of rigorous, original research and an endorsement from a company like McKinsey or Boston Consulting Group is a Holy Grail of marketing. McKinsey and BCG (what I call blue chip firms), while not perfect, are produce client smiles for most of their engagements.
Consulting, however, does not have an American Bar Association or other certification process to “certify” a professional’s capabilities. In fact, at Booz, Allen I learned that Halliburton NUS, a nuclear consulting and services shop, was in the eyes of Booz, Allen a “grateful C.” Booz, Allen, like Bain and SRI, were grade A firms. I figured if I were hired at Booz, Allen I could pick up some A-level attributes. Consultants not trained by one of the blue chip firms had to work harder, smarter, and more effectively. Slack off and the consulting firms lower on the totem pole were unlikely to claw their way to the top. When a consulting firm has been a grade C for decades, it is highly unlikely that the blue chip outfits will worry too much about these competitors.
This IDC particular report 249643ES is funded by whom? The fact that I was able to download the report from one of the companies listed as a “sponsor” suggests that Smartlogic and nine other companies were underwriting the rigorous research. You can download the report (verified at 2 30 pm, July 25, 2014) at this link. Hasten to do it, please.
In the consulting arena, multi-client studies come in different flavors or variants. At Booz, Allen & Hamilton, the 1976 Study of World Economic Change was paid for by a number of large banks. We did not write about these banks. We delivered previously uncollected information in a Booz, Allen package. The boss was William Simon, former secretary of the US treasury. He brought a certain mindset and credibility to our project.
The authors of the IDC report are Dave Schubmehl and Dan Vesset. Frankly I don’t known enough about these “experts” to compare them to William Simon. My hunch is that Mr. Simon’s credentials might have had a bit more credibility. We supplemented the Booz, Allen team with specialists from Claremont College, where Peter Drucker was grooming some quite bright business analysts. In short, the high caliber Booz, Allen professionals, the Claremont College whiz kids, and William Simon combined to generate a report with a substantive information payload.
Based on my review of the Executive Summary of “The Knowledge Quotient,” direct comparisons with the Booz, Allen report or even reports from some of the mid tier firms’ analyses in my files are difficult to make. I can, however, highlight a handful of issues that warrant further consideration. Let’s look at three areas where the information highway may be melting in the summer heat.
1. A Focus on Knowledge and the Notion of a Quotient
I do a for fee column for Knowledge Management Magazine. I want to be candid. I am not sure that I have a solid understanding of what the heck “knowledge” is. I know that a quotient is the result obtained by dividing one number by another number. I am not able to accept that an intangible like “knowledge” can be converted to a numeric output. Lard on some other abstractions like “value” and the entire premise of the report is difficult to take seriously.
Well, quite a few companies did take the idea seriously, and we need to look at the IDC material to get a feel for the results based on a survey of 2,155 organizations and in depth interviews with 11 organizations “discovered.” The fact that there are 11 sponsors and 11 in depth interviews suggests that the sample is not an objective one as far as the interviews are concerned. But I may be wrong. Is that a signal that this IDC report is a marketing exercise dressed up as an objective report?
2. The Old Chestnut Makes an Appearance
A second clue is the inclusion of a matrix that reminded me of an unimaginative variation on the 1970 Boston Consulting Group’s tool. The BCG approach used market share or similar “hard” data about products and business units. A version of the BCG quadrant appears below:
IDC’s “experts” may be able to apply numbers to nebulous concepts. I would not want to try and pull off this legerdemain. The Schubmehl and Vesset version for IDC strikes me a somewhat spongy; for example, how does one create a quotient for knowledge when parameterizing “socialization” or “culture.” Is the association with New Age and pop culture intentional?
3. The Sponsors: An Eclectic Group United by Sponsoring IDC?
The third tip off to the focus of the report are the sponsors themselves. The 11 companies are an eclectic group, including a giant computer services firm (IBM) a handful of small companies with little or no corporate profile, and an indexing company that delivers training, services, and advice.
4. A Glimpse of the Takeaways
Fourth, the Executive Summary highlights what appear to be important takeaways from the year long research effort. For example, KQ leaders have their expectations exceeded presumably because these KQ savvy outfits have licensed one or more of the study sponsors’ products. The Executive Summary references a number of case studies. As you may know, positive case studies about search and content processing are not readily available. IDC promises a clutch of cases.
And IDC on pages iv and v of the Executive Summary uses a bullet list and some jargon to give a glimpse of high KQ outfits’ best practices. The idea is that if content is indexed and searchable, there are some benefits to the companies.
After 50 years, I assume IDC has this type of work nailed. I would point out that IDC used my information in its for fee reports from August 2012 until July 2014. My attorney was successful in getting IDC to stop connecting my name and that of my researchers with one of IDC’s top billing analysts. I find surfing on my content and name untoward. But again there are substantive differences between blue chip consulting firms and those lower on the for fee services totem pole.
I wonder if the full report will contain positive profiles of the sponsoring organizations. Be prepared to pay a lot for this “knowledge quotient” report. On the other hand, some of the sponsors may provide you with a copy if you have a gnawing curiosity about the buzzwords and jargon the report embraces; for example, analytics,
Some potential reader will have to write a big check. For example, to get one of the IDC reports with my name on it from 2012 to July 2014, the per report price was $3,500. I would not be surprised if the sticker for this KQ report is even higher. Based on the Executive Summary, KQ looks like a content marketing play. The “inclusions” are the profiles of the sponsors.
I will scout around for the Full Monty, and I hope it is fully clothed and buttoned up. Does IDC have a William Simon to ride herd on its “experts”? From my experience, IDC’s rigorousness is quite different. For example, IDC’s Dave Schubmehl used my information and attached himself to my name. Is this the behavior of a blue chip?
Stephen E Arnold, July 28, 2014
July 25, 2014
I wanted to nail down a handful of facts.
First, IDC published without a contract four reports in 2012. These reports were disseminated via the IDC Web site, various communications, and via Amazon’s eCommerce site. These reports were:
- Attivio 236514
- Elasticsearch 237410
- Lucid Imagination / Works 236086
- Polyspot 236511
Each report was $3,500. One report about Attivio was sold on Amazon until July 17, 2014.
The “authors” of these IDC reports included:
- Susan Feldman, a former IDC professional positioned as a “search expert”. Only Attivio.
- David Schubmehl, a former OpenText and Janya (no longer in business) “professional” and heir to Ms Feldman as IDC’s search expert who has jumped from my Attivio information into a consulting relationship with that company founded by former Fast Search & Transfer executives. See this link. Dave Schubmehl’s name appears on each of the four published reports using information from my team and me.
- Constance Ard, MLS, who was at this time the coordinator of my research projects
- Dr. Tyra Oldham, one of the 2012 members of my research team
- Stephen E Arnold, me. I have pointed to a biography on my Web site set up to promote the deal I had with IDC to publish an open source search monograph containing profiles of more than a dozen companies in 2012.
So what’s the big deal? Let me highlight the reason I will be taking a look at some of the IDC expertise in the future.
First, Ms. Feldman and I worked on projects that originated at Manning & Napier, then an investment services company. I was happy to cooperate with her when she joined IDC as the head of the IDC search practice. However, under circumstances I don’t understand, Ms. Feldman left IDC and the area of her responsibility was snagged by David Schubmehl. Without Ms. Feldman at IDC, I made numerous efforts to get a contract, get information about sales, find out where the 13 profiles provided by me and my team were at IDC, and, of course, get paid. Ms. Feldman made administrative procedures work. Mr. Schubmehl took a different approach from where I sat.
Second, Mr. Schubmehl made certain his name appeared on the reports published and sold by IDC without written permission from me to use my material or to stake a claim on the work. Furthermore, the source material we provided contained certain information that was in 2012 not widely known. Significant information about the companies we analyzed were not included in the IDC reports. As a result, the IDC reports using my material were not in line with my thinking. One example of Mr. Schubmehl’s thinking is this tweet:
According to LinkedIn, IDC’s analyst profile, and various biographies charting his work career, he is an expert in Enterprise Search, Text Analytics, Customer Relations, Consultancy, Document Management, Enterprise Content Management, Business Intelligence, Information Management, Intellectual Property, Litigation Support, Enterprise Software, SaaS, Product Management, Cloud Computing, Analytics, Go-to-market Strategy, Knowledge Management, Software Development, and Enterprise Architecture. This impressive list begs one simple question: “If one is so expert, why is it necessary to use without permission and payment the work of others?”
Third, my attorney sought information about sales and finally pressed IDC to stop selling reports with my name and David Schubmehl’s on them. One fix was for IDC to roll Lucid information into a separate report. IDC stopped selling the four reports identified above in early 2014. IDC continued to sell the Attivio report on Amazon until July 17, 2014. IDC is no longer selling reports with my name on them. This is a modest victory, but it leaves the question hanging, “What motivates a large and presumably well regarded consulting firm to trample over basic business procedures?” I don’t have an answer. I do believe IDC is perhaps not quite so confident of its “experts’” expertise, particularly with regard to search and content processing.
Net net: IDC used my name without my permission. IDC published my research material without issuing a contract for work for hire. IDC took possession of detailed, high value information and permitted that information to “inform” David Schubmehl to further his impact as a sales person and “expert” at IDC like Mr. Schubmehl, a “long suffering Buffalo Bills fan and reformed youth soccer referee.”
The next time you read an IDC report, please, consider these questions:
- Who is the “expert”? The contributors or the IDC person who piggybacks on the names of others with particular expertise?
- Is $3,500 for a rehash of other people’s work a wise use of scarce resources?
- Why does a large company fail to follow standard business practices such as issuing contracts, observing contracts, providing sales reports, and compensating those who actually performed original work?
Stephen E Arnold, July 25, 2014
July 20, 2014
One of my readers sent me a link to this IDC report on Amazon. If you cannot read the image, here’s the link verified on July 20, 2014.
Now check out the price of $500. The author is a former IDC expert, Sue Feldman.
Now check out this IDC report on Amazon and note that the price for my work and that of my researchers is $3,500. Notice that Ms. Feldman’s name is on the report. I don’t know if she was employed at IDC when my work was posted on Amazon without my permission. There is one new IDC “expert” name: Dave Schubmehl, a former OpenText and Janya executive. Also, my name is listed almost as an extra.
This is an archived article. IDC removed the report from the Amazon Web site shortly before this update was written.
I wonder if my name and my team’s contribution delivered up to 7X value or was Dave Schubmehl’s contributions the reason for the price boost. What’s clear is that IDC is taking content, using my name, selling reports with my name, and then deleting documents in a stepwise manner.
In any event, thanks to my reader and a pointed reminder to anyone purchasing consulting firm content marketing, find out who provided the information. I would suggest that my team obviously has some value because the former IDC professional’s work was a comparative bargain at $500.
Contracts for reuse of another’s work? No.
Permission to resell my research on Amazon? No.
Payments, sales reports, follow through? No.
What’s that say about well known consulting firm behavior? Exploiting a 70 year old and his research team is one more example of a lapse in common sense, fair play, and corporate governance. Does this seem like a smaller scale version of the Google X Labs’ Forrest Hayes’ matter? I leave you to consider the question and your answer.
Stephen E Arnold, July 20, 2014
January 8, 2014
As SharePoint deployments get more and more involved and customized, many organizations are turning to SharePoint consultants to help launch or refresh implementations. In light of the trend, PR Web looks at the most successful SharePoint consulting firms in the article, “Ten Top SharePoint Consulting Services Issued in December 2013 by bestwebdesignagencies.com.”
The article says:
“The independent authority on web solutions, bestwebdesignagencies.com, has promoted the best SharePoint consulting firms in the mobile development industry for the month of December 2013 . . . The rankings are produced by the independent research team through painstaking testing and analysis to decide the best firms offering SharePoint consulting solutions. To view the ratings of the top SharePoint development services click here.”
Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and frequently covers SharePoint on his information service, ArnoldIT.com. His coverage also points to an increasingly complicated enterprise environment, one that begs for outside expertise and consultation. Users who are in need of such services may find some assistance in the consulting services ranked by bestwebdesignagencies.com.
Emily Rae Aldridge, January 8, 2014
December 30, 2013
SharePoint consulting is always in demand, because as anyone who has attempted to implement or use SharePoint knows, it is not a simple platform. There are lots of options for customization and lots of ways that individual organizations can make it their own. But all of those decisions take time and expertise, so many organizations turn to SharePoint consultants. Check out the latest list of top ranking SharePoint consultants in the article, “Best SharePoint Consulting Consultants Rankings Declared by bestwebdesignagencies.com for December 2013.”
The article begins:
“The ten best SharePoint consulting consultants have been announced by bestwebdesignagencies.com for the month of December 2013. Consultants are showcased based on their achievement in a meticulous analysis of their principal services.”
The article then goes on to list the top performing firms. If your organization is looking for some SharePoint assistance, you may find a good recommendation on the list. And you would not be alone in needing some help. Stephen E. Arnold, a longtime leader in search and brains behind ArnoldIT.com, covers the latest in SharePoint news. He finds that as SharePoint functionality increases, organizations are more frequently outsourcing their customization in an effort to save time and sanity.
Emily Rae Aldridge, December 30, 2013
December 13, 2013
I have been working through some of the archives in my personal file about search vendors. I came across a wonderfully amusing article from DMReview. The article “The Problem with Unstructured Data.”
Here’s the part I have circled in 2003, a decade ago, about the next big thing:
Content intelligence is maturing into an essential enterprise technology, comparable to the relational database. The technology comes in several flavors, namely: search, classification and discovery. In most cases, however, enterprises will want to integrate this technology with one or more of their existing enterprise systems to derive greater value from the embedded unstructured data. Many organizations have identified high-value, content intelligence-centric applications that can now be constructed using platforms from leading vendors. What will make content intelligence the next big trend is how this not-so-new set of technologies will be used to uncover new issues and trends and to answer specific business questions, akin to business intelligence. When this happens, unstructured data will be a source of actionable, time-critical business intelligence.
I can see this paragraph appearing without much of a change in any one of a number of today’s vendors’ marketing collateral.
I just finished an article for about the lack of innovation in search and content processing. My focus in that essay was from 2007 to the present. I will keep my eyes open for examples of jargon and high-flying buzzwords that reach even deeper into the forgotten past of search and retrieval.
The chit chat on LinkedIn about “best” search system is a little disappointing but almost as amusing as this quote from DM Review. Yep, “content intelligence” was the next big thing a decade ago. I suppose that “maturing” process is like the one used for Kentucky bourbon. No oak barrels, just hyperbole, for the search mavens.
Stephen E Arnold, January 26, 2013
October 31, 2013
I spoke with a colleague after my webinar about Google’s “bulletproof vest.” After some small talk about the difficulty some folks having getting actionable information from online services, my colleague asked, “Have you seen ‘Forrester Is Failing Marketers with BS Data about Facebook’”?
After the call I located the article which appeared in Business Insider. I am not sure who owns Business Insider and I don’t know anything about the author of the write up. What was clear to me is that a mid tier consulting firm sure annoyed at least one person.
How did the annoyance surface?
The cause, it seems, was a report by the upscale Forrester consultancy. The write up works through some snippets and methodological observations. The main point of the write up, in my opinion, was:
The Forrester analyst who produced this appeared to have an axe to grind long before they ever got the “data” quoted in this report. The report says: “A handful of notable brands have drawn first blood, announcing they’re leaving Facebook entirely.” The analyst’s endnotes cite only one company, namely General Motors, who (a) did NOT say in May 2012 they were leaving entirely but were just stopping Facebook paid media, and (b) over six months ago said they were also returning to buy Facebook ads once more.
I don’t pay much attention to Facebook. I pay even less attention to the antics of the mid tier consulting companies. What I do pay attention to includes:
- The difficulty I have in figuring out what data are accurate and what data are public relations
- The motivation for certain somewhat snappy analyses. I am not sure if it is a brilliant insight, a desire to outwit Google’s pandas and penguins, or a signal that someone hired a person who just misunderstands certain business facts, events, or models.
- The foam whip up following a flashy report. Folks appear to care a great deal about Facebook, its revenue, and its importance in the advertising world. I suppose my surprise is a result of my living in rural Kentucky, far from the hip hop of Madison Avenue.
Take a look at the write up in Business Insider. Chase down a copy of the Forrester report. Look at Facebook’s financials in today’s frothy investment pool.
I have a simple question. Why do I have to use www.seekky.com to locate information in non English social media. Perhaps the experts should focus on systems that make it easy to use these Facebook-type services? Just a thought. I am delighted the “BS” does not refer to Beyond Search.
Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2013
July 29, 2013
I saw “Global Enterprise Search Market to 2016: Latest Industry Analysis, Strategies, Survey, Size, Share, Growth Trends, and Forecast Research Report Available at Research Moz.” The news release explains that Research Moz has completed a study of the enterprise search market, making an effort to cover every possible angle. The report, unlike other analyses, purposes to cover the Middle East and what I used to think of as the Pacific Rim.
I navigated to Research Moz and learned that the report is 58 pages in length. The most fascinating item in the news release, in my view, was:
Global Enterprise Search market to grow at a CAGR of 12.98 percent over the period 2012-2016.
If the robust growth rate is accurate, the search and content processing firms working hard to cover their payroll can look forward to a brighter future. The information available to me suggests that search is fracturing, making growth estimates difficult. The fastest growing sectors like military intelligence are less than forthcoming about the size of the contracts awarded by various nation states. In addition, the sharp uptake of open source search solutions continues to have an impact of some commercial vendors. Companies which sell services to support information retrieval are, in my view, consulting and engineering firms, not vendors of search solutions.
Research Moz also offers reports on other global markets; for example, pet food.
More information is available at http://www.researchmoz.us/global-enterprise-search-market-2012-2016-report.html. Pricing information was not available.
Stephen E Arnold, July 29, 2013
Sponsored by Xenky
July 4, 2013
I am not a journalist. My academic training is in medieval poetry in Latin. I was lucky to get out of high school, college, and a couple of graduate programs. Few people embraced my interest in indexing medieval Latin manuscripts. Among those who made the most fun of my interests were those in journalism school, electrical engineers, and people studying to be middle school teachers.
In graduate school, the mathematics majors found my work interesting and offered grudging respect because one of my relatives was Vladimir Ivanovich Arnold, a co-worker with that so-so math guy, the long distance hiker Andrey Kolmogorov.
I have, therefore, some deep seated skepticism about “real” journalists, folks who carry around soldering irons, and the aforementioned middle school teachers.
Last week I received a semi-snarky email about one of my articles. The person writing me shall remain nameless. I have assembled some thoughts designed to address his question, “Why did you not mention [company A] and [company B] in your article about desktop search. I think this was a for fee column which appeared in KMWorld, but I can’t be sure. My team and I produce a number of “articles” every day, and I am not a librarian, another group granted an exemption from my anti journalist, anti EE, and anti middle school stance.
Let me highlight the points which are important to me. I understand that you, gentle reader, probably do not have much interest. But this is my blog and I am not a journalist.
First, each of my for fee columns which run in four different publications focus on something “sort of” connected to search, online, analytics, knowledge management (whatever that means), and the even more indefinable content processing. I write about topics which my team suggests might be interesting to people younger and smarter than I. In short, PR people stay away. I pay professionals to identify topics for me. I don’t need help from you. I don’t need the PR attitude which I call “PRantronizing.” Is this clear enough? Do not spam me with crazy “news” releases. Do not call me and pretend we are pals. When a call came in yesterday, I was in a meeting with a law librarian. I put the call on the speaker phone and told the caller to know whom she buzzes before she pretends we are pals. The PRatronizer was annoyed. The law librarian said, “None of us on your team are that friendly to you. Heck, I don’t think you are my friend after four years of daily work.” My reaction, “That’s why you are sitting here with me and the PRatronizer is dealing with a firm, ‘Get lost.’”
May 1, 2013
It’s spring in Harrods Creek. The Kentucky Derby marks the beginning of a frenzy of gambling, partying, and social climbing. Spring is also brightened this year by a new report from a big daddy consulting firm. I hesitate to say “azure chip consultant” because so many big time consulting firms have run into a muddy track. Most consulting firms are moving to known methods of boosting revenue. One thing is certain: The marketing horse race is underway. Unlike the Kentucky Derby where the entrants are pretty similar, the horses in the search, content processing, and analytics race are marvelous hybrids. Even though the same words are used to describe some functions, most companies are shaped by their marketing, not their technologies. I think of vendors as having the same bloodline with only the jockeys and their silks differentiating the companies. I suppose that is why there are groupings which are confusing, at least to me.
The particular pair of news announcements in question illustrate this point:
- Attivio, “a visionary”. See http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/news-releases/attivio-named-a-visionary-in-2013-gartner-magic-quadrant-for-enterprise-search-205246031.html
- Coveo, “a visionary”. See http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/coveo-recognized-as-a-visionary-in-gartner-2013-magic-quadrant-for-enterprise-search-1784721.htm
A number of other companies are sporting labels awarded by a big daddy consulting firm. I have not seen the “study”, which I hope is based on fact, not marketing. Frankly I am not sure if I understand how big daddy consulting firms conduct their business today in an Adwords world.
Do two firms with the same metatag suggests the type of hybridization of functionality I see?
I find this fascinating because it suggests a similarity between the firms. The firms’ respective Web pages position each company in a different manner: Attivio seems more closely allied to business intelligence via unified information access and Coveo seems more focused on point solutions such as customer support. I probably cannot see the track through the spectators. No surprise there. I am far, far from the burning center of big time consulting here in rural Harrods Creek.
I do know that both Attivio and Coveo and have ingested significant venture funding in the last 12 months. (See “Swinging for the Fences and Search.”) Not surprisingly, various promotional and marketing actioins are warranted, if not essential.
Executives at these firms need to differentiate themselves with new companies entering certain market sectors and capturing headlines. Firms in search, content processing, and analytics have to come up with buzz like upstarts who garner headlines in the influential Techcrunch. (See, for example, “Docurated Is An Enterprise Service To Search And Collect The Data You Need From Your Files.”)
Also firms which have been in business a while are interesting because the point at which organic growth kicks is and carries the companies to Endeca-type heights is a signal of the health of the search and content processing sector. What’s interesting to me is that Hewlett Packard has not been emphasizing “search” as a marketing hook for its high profile Autonomy operation.
I will monitor public news releases about companies which sport a very compelling metatag. I don’t think I will be alone in tracking the actions of these and other search “visionaries” which share a very upbeat metatag. Investors and stakeholders will be monitoring the firms as well. I hope I have contributed to the buzz as pesky outfits like SRCH2 and Docurated gallop through the datasphere.
Stephen E Arnold, May 1, 2013