Diary of an Asian Swing: Day 5

Second day of Singapore meetings. APJ market conversations with IT vendors, watching the emergence of big data here. Seeing activity in the field is always a fascinating counterpoint to the briefings and conferences back home. But the big data phenomenon is surprisingly rapid. Certainly the user conversations have been similar in some ways to those I have in North America, but the players and the details have not made their way here. Yet, we met with a government-funded think tank, building IP for an aggressive thrust into new business opportunities. Different from Silicon Valley think tanks, but no less intriguing – or aggressive.

Capper to the day was dinner with two colleagues in a neighborhood crab restaurant. I have enough opportunities for fine cuisine, but this was a chance to let our hair down, eat like normal people and talk about the day. And Singapore cuisine is unique and marvelous. A wonderful evening and back to the hotel. Next day: Kuala Lumpur.

Diary of an Asian Swing: Day 4

Halfway across the world you go to breakfast and see a neighbor is in your hotel too. How often does it happen? Today I saw an SAP colleague I worked with two decades ago at Sybase – and his colleague, with whom I’ll meet while in Singapore. Great start to the day.

This day was all business. Met several Gartner clients to talk Big Data (since that was my billing.) Interest is high, and like North American firms, one of the key questions, as always, is Value. “What are people doing? What is proving useful from a business perspective?”

Gartner’s local office is beautiful – two floors in a thriving business neighborhood in one of the world’s most vibrant cities. I was told per capita income here is the second highest in the world, and the way the city is kept continues to impress: clean, efficient, beautifully designed and planted with fabulous flora everywhere. Our people here are professional, motivated, friendly and prepared for all our meetings, making sure I know who we’re meeting with and why.

It was a busy, stimulating day capped with dinner with my colleague Arun Chandrasekaran in the Pan Pacific Hotel’s restaurant. Multiple serving stations with different cuisines: Indian, Cantonese, Japanese…. that marvelous Singaporean polyglot cuisine I love. And if the food was good, the conversation was even better. Arun and I talked about how his infrastructure research and my software focus converged in big data and what our next collaboration should be after the Hadoop pilots piece we’re nearing completion on now.

Closing the day with a little BBC World in my room, I watched the pre-election coverage, amused by the overloading of the “battleground states” metaphor when I switched to CNN. They even referred to reporters “embedded” there. Please. Thank goodness this overpriced, overheated exercise will soon be complete. And after all the sound and fury, I don’t expect much will have changed.

Twitter Drafting – Marketing in the Tweetstream

Racing fans – cars or bicycles – are familiar with the concept of drafting – travelling close behind another vehicle to reduce wind resistance. The concept is sometimes applied to marketing by savvy practitioners who use the spend of others to multiply their own impact in public consciousness. In recent months, I’ve noticed a growing use of twitter by companies – including research firms – to exploit the new social channel this way.

It’s not new. Back in the days when Comdex was the biggest, most interesting show in IT, one could sometimes find the most intriguing offerings, especially from small firms with correspondingly small budgets, in hotel rooms nearby. Rather than paying the sizable fees required to participate officially, these nimble players bypassed the show entirely and found ways to reach attendees and draw them to parties, chili cook offs, etc. to get their message across.

The age of twitter, and especially hashtags, has created a new opportunity. If you don’t know what a hashtag is, they are words preceded by the # sign, a convention that allows an event – like #IBMPulse or #OracleOpenWorld – to sustain what is known as a tweetstream of messages the community interested in the event can follow. (Hashtags are used for other topics too, but that’s not relevant here.)

How does the crafty practitioner use hashtags to get an extra kick for his or her message? By putting out their own tweets and using someone else’s hashtag. Examples: tweeting about your competing product during a vendor show, or in a tweetstream that has sprung up around an event like a product intro or news story.

Analysts can jump into a tweetstream to promote their own work inside the stream around a vendor’s show. I’ve done that myself – it’s a great way to find new followers.

Some have gone further still – lately I’ve seen twitter-savvy analysts like Ray Wang promote their firm’s work even inside a competitor firm’s event tweetstream.  It’s a great way to find the right audience at the right time, and another powerful example of how twitter and other social media challenge existing business models.

Update: in the day following this post, I observed two more instances at the Gartner MDM event I was attending. Another independent analyst used the hashtag to add commentary – on the mix of attendees of the event, which he was not present for. And a vendor, not sponsoring, retweeted something I said, adding a link to their own website. What’s your opinion of these tactics? Leave your comments below – I hope to have a lively discussion. 

Living in the Present is SO Yesterday

It’s an occupational hazard of living in the future that analysts can begin to ignore the present – unless we make it a practice to seek it out. Here in the Valley, that can be difficult, when being a week behind the latest version of something the rest of the world hasn’t heard of yet equates to being a luddite. That can lead to AADD (analyst attention deficit disorder.) Read more of this post

White Paper Sponsorship and Labeling

My friend Curt Monash has taken Oracle to task for the way it labels its web pages that contain download links for analyst reports, and I took some collateral damage in the process. It was embarrassing to me, but an important discussion, and I thought I ought to share some ideas about the whole issue. For example, I found that other vendor sites don’t always label white papers as sponsored either.

Some of my pieces are published by vendors who simply buy the rights to make available things I’ve posted here or elsewhere. Those are not “sponsored”; no discussion about what I will or will not say has taken place in advance, and there is no promise by me to write, or to pay by them. Other pieces are specifically commissioned from me, under editorial agreements I’ve described elsewhere. In brief, though – vendors get to check facts, but not dictate what I say. And they don’t buy comparisons, favorable or otherwise, to competitors – I don’t accept that kind of work for publication, at any price.

Read more of this post

Decoding BI Market Share Numbers – Play Sudoku With Analysts

In a recent post I discussed Oracle’s market share in BI, based on a press-published chart taken from IDC data – showing Oracle coming in second. As often happens in such discussions, I got quite a few direct emails and twitter messages – some in no uncertain terms – about why the particular metric I chose was not sufficiently nuanced or representative of the true picture. I freely admit: that’s true. In general, market observers know Oracle is not typically placed second overall – but the picture is more complex than a single ranking. My point was, and is, that it’s too easy to slip into a “who’s on top” mentality that obscures true market dynamics. In this post, I’ll dig a bit deeper, and describe what different approaches or categorizations show us – and what they don’t. Finally I’ll talk about how much this matters – and to whom. Read more of this post

Oracle Sets Sights on BI Leadership. Has it Picked the Right Target?

Oracle is not first in BI, and wants to change that – that was the clear message of a well executed, multi-site “real plus virtual” event with top executives showing off the result of a multi-year effort to rationalize and integrate a set of leading but overlapping components into a seamless suite. Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g (OBIEE) deserves the accolades it has already received from analysts who welcomed its announcement – it makes bold and serious bets on effective centralized metadata administration, data integration/ unification and optimized analytic architecture, collaboration, globalization, mobile device support, and a powerful link to action that will be most effective (unsurprisingly) with its own business applications. While it misses some pieces – fully integrated in-memory processing, SaaS and cloud support among them – these will be forthcoming, and Oracle is clearly committed to a quicker release cycle now that the thorny internal politics around legacy products seem to be resolved. But its competitive focus may be misdirected; while SAP is still ahead in market share, IBM is the bigger threat in the marketplace.

Read more of this post

Disclosure Policy

Transparency has been a frequent topic in the independent analyst circles I travel in.  Below is a statement of my policy. In addition to this post, I’ve added it as a “Page” as WordPress calls them, so it will always be available in the heading of the blog, where it will have a current list of clients that can easily be referred to. Read more of this post

Include All Comments on Blog? No. But Please – Jump In!

I post and respond to all substantive comments.  But I’ve had questions from readers who didn’t see theirs. Understandably, they wanted to know why. Here’s how I handle comments:

  1. If they are about the content - they go up. Agree, disagree, it’s all good. Dialogue is exactly the point.
  2. If they are just “I liked this” (or not) they rarely do. If they are clearly not spam they might go up anyway, but the spammers tend to fall into this category. How can I tell? Specificity – a reference to the actual content. Might I be wrong? Unfortunately, yes. But there’s no information loss leaving these out.
  3. One exception to the above: a few come from rebroadcast mechanisms like topsy. I don’t know much about them, but assume my readers may want to, so I leave them in – you can follow the links to find out if it’s a service you want.

That’s it, except to say that I still have a low enough volume of comments that I look at every one, and respond if a response is indicated. I look at all the spam so far too, though that gets harder. WordPress seems to do a good job – when they say it’s spam, it has been so far. And they haven’t allowed much through, either.

Please comment if you have anything to say, anytime. That’s why I’m doing this – I can hear myself anytime I want to.

A Visit With Gideon Gartner

I was privileged to work with Gideon Gartner briefly during the early Giga Information Group days (joining about a year in after its founding in 1995.) I was a newbie in the analyst game at the time, although in my prior few years I had done analyst relations formally and informally at two software firms. Gideon was an insurgent, beginning to transform the business model he innovated at Gartner Group a decade and a half earlier, and it was exciting to participate in a vibrant community of smart people deciphering technology trends. Yes, he succeeded, changing the siloed model of multiple services with a “one seat gets all” licensing model. That change is only now beginning to give way to revenue enhancement strategies, as the surviving big firms attempt to monetize in a finer grained way. Read more of this post

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