There were a swarm of papers published in the late 90′s and early 2000′s surrounding a very, very strange thing: turns out that asking people to fill out a survey about a positively viewed product actually causes them to buy more of that product, buy it more quickly, and become more profitable customers. This is called, in some circles, the “Mere Measurement effect.”Just in case you want to know where I came up with the above, here’s some light bedtime reading: Applied Stochastic Models in Business and Industry.
There are a slew more articles on the subject, a quick perusal on Google Scholar will get you acquainted with the literature.
There’s an older observation related to this new research: “What gets measured generally gets done.” Named for the place where studies were done on production improvements in the 1920′s, The Hawthorne Effect has now been evolved into multiple lines of research and nuance, but the point is simple: paying attention to things improves their performance.
Although today some research points to the fact that only measuring things does not necessarily improve them, the fact remains that measurement is vital to increased performance, especially as a form of attention given to a vital area. If you consider that timing a race is the only way to determine if one has run faster, and that looking at splits or heart rates or pace are also helpful to athletes in a training situation, it is obvious that measurement is a key to improved performance.
So how does Business Intelligence and the software industry as a whole make use of this?
Simple: turns out that any software that measures something, and shows that measurement, and interim measurements, to the people performing that behavior, will cause improvement against those measures. If that software shows those results publicly, or allows them to be discussed, things get even better.
We all see this is enterprise software sales, especially on inside sales teams, where the bell gets rung for each deal, where whiteboards show bookings quarter-to-date, and indeed in the entire performance monitoring industry.
If software not only measured those results, but also caused salespeople to think through and state their intentions (commits) and focus on the growth toward their intentions (pipeline), especially if we view the changes over time, the above research gives us a clear indication that sales performance would improve.
Oddly enough, if we stick with the sales performance theme, we find that most people use a CRM package to look at actual results (bookings) and usually pipeline. But almost all CRM packages don’t show changes in pipeline over time, or bring the key measures that matter to the fore, and track them over time.
This is echoed through most software packages: measurement is for managers – but that’s actually the place where it does the least good.
I say: Measurement for the masses!
Several months ago I started at WebTrends. Today we kicked off the WebTrends blog. So I will be blogging about the biz over there. WebTrends is a fantastic company, and I’m happy to call them my tribe
I am sitting in salesforce.com’s partner conference right now. They just went through some great coverage about where they are working, where the opportunity is for partners, and where salesforce.com intends to build. They were open about what they were doing, and that is a great thing for partners, who want to make safe investments.
They also highlighted some interesting cases where salesforce has sold nearly 40,000 seats to a Japanese firm, but not for the CRM – but rather for the platform!
Which brings up another point: they are redubbing the platform as “the force.”
Good branding. Now if they could only change their ticker
All that ribbing aside,Â SaaS is going through an inflection. Business Objects’ Steven Lucas last night at the “after dark” party said that they have reached 50k subscribers, which is a big amount of recent growth. Salesforce’ platform sale is a huge unprecedented event.
So all that makes me more excited than ever about Mashups and the Mashup Exchange.
And if you’re looking for funding, look to Emergence Capital, a 5-year old VC that is tightly focused on SaaS, and is looking to invest in “technology-enabled-service” which includes BPO’s, information services companies, and SaaS.Â They are looking for people to build standalone companies, and are asking themselves the question: when will the force platform be ready for people to build on it?
Things are heating up.
Two big players emerge when you’re looking for an online project management tool:
I needed a tool that was simple to use, allowed me to show my management what the team was up to, and also to help the team collaborate around tasks and ensure day-to-day accountability.
I started with GoPlan, which was simple to use, easy to add nested tasks and assign them, emailed folks with their task assignments, tracked them etc. . .
But GoPlan could not give me a high-level project plan (for instance laid out in a Gantt chart) that a Sr. Exec. could collapse and expand as they wanted to vet a project plan. Since the wiki states that this is planned for a future release, I deduce that it’s not there today. To me this is vital: I say to Bob, my COO, that my plan is online here, and Bob will go to the URL, and see that we are planning to have a web-based 0-touch partner program up and running in a month. Now he wants to see the next level down, clicks into it, sees that, and gets satisfied that we’re on the right path. Two weeks in, he can go to the same page, see how we’re tracking, again drill down and see with color coding where we are in the project. Simple.
I would even want to use this for project reviews with the team, and with execs, and to ask for budget, etc. . .
I also discovered that behind Basecamp is Amazon’s web services platform: S3.
In the middle of all of this, I joined Serena, where I find out that we are actually taking our project management tool, Mariner, onto the web! Funnily enough, Mariner addresses all of my concerns, so hope abounds .
This morning RenÃ© kicked off a terrific presentation around SaaS and how Serena is going SaaS. He walked through a video around a choice: going SaaS or staying with the traditional model, then walked through several principles behind SaaS:
This was one of the best presentations I’ve seen in terms of taking people from being unaware of what SaaS really means to the state where they can understand not only the promise of SaaS, but also how they could get themselves into the business.
Since I am driving the Mashup Exchange, this means a lot to me – so many SaaS companies have stumbled around partners, and I am intent on us getting it right.
That means we learn from the past, and emulate the best attributes we have seen in systems in the past.
Simply put: protect partners’ business for the long run, give them a fair and free marketplace to sell their goods, and provide real value in creating a new opportunity for them.
Jeremy Burton, CEO of Serena software took the stage early today to talk about a revolution in application development.
His presentation started with a discussion around the Harvard Business Review article “IT Doesn’t Matter” by Nick Carr. The basic premise is that IT was so expensive and difficult that much of the last 10 years have been spent implementing systems that bring organizations up to parity with others, and reduce their costs, but really is not a competitive differentiator.
But that is about to change, according to Burton. While it may seem revolutionary, he contends that there’s a new era, driven by the network, that will bring us into a “new golden era of application development.”
He then showed a monty-python-esque video (he is British, after all) focusing initially on the “Ministry of IT.” This was a video of a horrible future with byzantine IT in a wacky black and white world, needing control over everything.
The long-tail came next: the long-tail of application development – that is. Burton talked about facilitating the development of simple applications in the long tail of applications – the apps that are little used and therefore too expensive to build to warrant the effort. He argues that global development, heterogeneous architectures, collaborative development, and lack of information (the slide said “flying blind”) for IT, are the things that will drive the next revolution.
Jeremy then talked about the products that will drive the Revolution: Dimensions & ZMF, TeamTrack, and Mariner. TeamTrack as the glue to provide processes between IT and the business, and Mariner as the management tool to give a professional, slick interface.
Then he introduced ALM 2.0: integrating the whole stack so that we could e.g. route a ticket into a mangement system, report on it at the aggregate level in realtime, in effct integrating Project Portfolio Management (PPM) with all the rest of the stack.
He then turned to the long tail of applications: there are 5 times the number of applications desired than IT’s capacity to build those apps. He argued that even doubling the capacity of IT wouldn’t put a dent in that demand, which led to another video: another Flying Circus: Ministry of the CIO.
Picture a black and white world (not unlike Brazil – the movie). Some ppor guy wants a simple app, but has to go through some horrible beating in order to get a siple app. Luckly the good guys save him from a torturous fate right at the very end.
Then the quotes came: Walt Mossberg: “IT is the most regressive and poisonous force in the technology today,” in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and reported here. CIO offers additional observation, that IT can get in front of it, or get left behind.
He then turned to Facebook, it’s success, and how people are building apps on facebook. The crazy thing is that after opening the facebook APIs, facebook has 3,878 applications within 3 months. Now these applications are simple ones: so he added the “interactive friend graph” which highlighted his friends.
He then clicked on my interactive friends graph, which highlighted my friends – hah – thanks for the plug Jeremy!
Then came the BFF – my “best female friend” app – and showed how the best female friends app and Google Maps could be “mashed up” to produce a simple application.
That’s when things got really interesting: Burton argued that with Web2.0, this facebook thinking will drive the enterprise to develop similar mashups: the mashup between SalesForce.com and SAP. This leads to (drumroll please. . .)
Serena Mashup Composer: a new tool – “Power to the Mashers”
The premise: Business People can Build apps! SOA has enabled easy access to applications on the back end, and Mashup Composer is the application that can allow the Power User to Build, and Deploy a new application.
So Serena will also enter the SaaS game in a huge way: allowing folks to build and deploy applications.
So he brought up a VP of Engineering, Ali Kheirolomoom, to give the demo – then Jeremy decided to change things up: instead of having the developer do the demo, he stepped in and did it himself!
So Jeremy started building an application: an Office-2007-like GUI and highlighted how a salesforce.com opportunity could be routed for approval to the CFO. More interesting, he demonstrated how you would change that process to add a Dunn & Bradstreet Web Service to add it to the process. This was actually funny – the developer asked the CEO to add the D&B process to the Mashup.
Jeremy added the D&B process within 5 minutes, live! Serena Mashup Composer made it easy so all he really had to do is drag and drop the web service, add a branching the workflow by dragging and dropping, and designate that he only wanted.
Then came the announcements, with a bombshell:
- Mashup Exchange: a marketplace for buying and selling mashups
- Mashup Composer and Server, which will be free for use until you deploy a Mashup and get business value.
That’s right: free until you derive value.
More later – time for some tea now.
I am at Serena’s xChange conference in Chicago right now, and will be doing a liveblog for the next day as I attend sessions. The big news, of course, I can’t share yet, but it won’t be long now
and that’s all I’m going to say for now;-)
Was doing some research and came across this post by Tom Davenport of Harvard’s Business School. In the post he postulates that the next big thing will be analytics @ the enterprise level.
The idea, or concept, of analytics, is a very good one. And the technology is getting there, but there are many problems, some that are intractable. Here are the obstacles:
1. Data Integrity and Unified Schema
There are many organizations that are working on this problem, but there are precious few enterprises anywhere in the world that have the right data infrastructure to actually know that their data is the right data that a manager is after, and even fewer that can tie data across the silos that are modern management systems. For instance, a company uses SAP for X and PSFT/ORCL for Y, and it will be yet another failed data warehouse installation that will solve the problem of how all the data in one system relates to the other.
There are small companies that are working on this problem, but it’s far from solved.
2. Behavior and Management skills
Even if the above problems were tackled and solved, and people could get access to the data they needed, there is a general paucity of good sense around what those numbers mean, and how they affect the business.
3. Lack of data on external benchmarks
Knowing what your company is doing, without an easy way to get access to external data to validate that position, leaves you with a limited understanding of the world and your place in it.
I recently assisted an organization that attempted to discover their penetration into a certain software market. They bucketed their revenues by the type of development environment that the products were sold into, and concluded that they had a fairly good mix of product sales. I asked them what the baseline was for those development environments in the marketplace. They researched the penetration of the various development environments, and then superimposed their revenue shares against the relative market shares of the development environments, and suddenly a very different picture emerged: what seemed like a good mix in the absence of context turned into a lopsided distribution when weighed against the market.
It is almost impossible to readily find good data, at the line manager level, around the baseline market conditions, and it is even more difficult to know how to interpret data well, and to understand the causality or relationship between data.
In the next 3 years, even at the highest enterprise levels, the gut instinct and intuition are going to be better methods than crunching the numbers.
In 1989 the Harvard Business Review published an article around Partnership and Competition being points along the same continuum. This is a fairly obvious point, but it is a subtle truth that reveals how some of the assumptions we make are so unconscious that they fade into the background.
Any competitor is a potential partner, and any partner a potential competitor. Which they become is your choice.
So partnership in tech, which is a fluid field allowing for rapid structural change, allows for more flux in relationships than other fields. But what defines how we see other companies in tech?Â It is really about deciding what you are, and then also knowing what you want to become, and how you plan to get there.
Barring a solid understanding of those three things, which are the core of corporate strategy and planning, partnerships are dangerous. They can easily take over your company. In some cases that’s a good thing: witness how many VAR organizations have grown up around some of the largest software vendors. In some cases there are entire companies that were built out of a partnership gone wild, with the express goal of letting that partnership subsume the company in the form of an acquisition.
In the end, larger companies that build successful partnerships are good at the same thing that makes good relationships on the personal level: boundaries.
In the end, deciding what you are not going to do becomes more powerful that what you are going to do.