Friday, August 6th was my last day at Gartner … and my last day as an industry analyst.
On Monday, August 9th, I start with Cisco as a senior technical solution marketing manager for social software.
Since 1996 when I joined Meta Group, I have had the opportunity to be in a role that provides a unique type of trusted advice and community advocacy for clients. I have thoroughly enjoyed my years in this profession. Being an industry analyst was a passionate hobby for which I was compensated – I never really saw it as a “job”. Over the years (Meta Group, Burton Group, and Gartner) I have covered different research “beats”. Some of the most recognizable are:
- Social software
- Enterprise 2.0
- Social media
- Social networking
- Unified communications
- Knowledge management
- “Collaborative CRM” (customer-facing interaction, e-Service, etc)
- Organizational dynamics (culture, productivity, learning, teaming, community-building, governance)
My long tenure in this role has provided me with a deep understanding of the collaboration market and its many adjacencies (e.g., enterprise content management, portals, search, identity, security, CRM, BPM). The numerous client interactions over the years have taught me that the most important issues influencing collaboration strategies have less to do with technology and everything to do with people, groups, and networks: how relationships evolve – how decisions are made – how people need to be engaged so that their participation and contributions enable personal and organizational success. At times, I wish I had majored in sociology or anthropology.
Not that technology is unimportant. It’s just often trumped by the issues above. When the conversation does turn to IT – I’ve been a long-time advocate that design and user experience are critical success factors. I have also championed the need for strategists to define a technical reference architecture from which to base IT decisions. An architecture based on modularity, loose-coupling, pace layering, open source (when appropriate), and standards is incredibly valuable in my opinion. Standards are not a panacea, but the longer you try to stay “open” in your IT initiatives, the less chance you have to introduce a technology bias. Finally, I have come to appreciate that no single deployment model is always correct and that organizations need to have flexible delivery models (e.g, SaaS/Cloud, on-premises, and hybrids).
Careers sometimes reach a point where an opportunity emerges that causes you to sit back and think. You can stay in your comfort-zone and continue along – or – you can make a change that will take you on a new path – a new trajectory. That’s basically what happened to me as I began to consider my long-term options earlier this year. I did not reach this decision quickly. I did my homework so to speak.
I have studied the collaboration market for 14 years. I have seen many different vendors come and go. I’ve seen vendors go back-and-forth with failed forays into the space. I’ve seen vendors gain a foothold based on domain expertise, a unique product capability, or first-mover advantage. However, after 14 years, this market remains led by IBM and Microsoft. Externally, it’s another matter – arguably there is no dominant enterprise software player that has stood the test of time yet re: delivery models (e.g., SaaS/Cloud) and solutions (e.g., social media).
Cisco I believe has a compelling story and legitimate chance to re-shape the collaboration market (internally as well as externally). I’ll cover more of this viewpoint in another post. What I would like to say is that Cisco exceeded the expectations I had to what amounts to a career change:
- The company is serious and committed to attaining a leadership position in the collaboration market and understands that market transitions take time
- Cisco has a breadth and depth of offerings that create interesting synergies and market possibilities (e.g.,Cisco Eos)
- Cisco is listening to customers and the market – proceeding at a pragmatic pace to ensure solutions meet those expectations
- The collaboration and social software investments in particular (e.g., Quad), will deliver a flexible business solution rather than a list of technology features
- Quad’s architecture and reliance on open standards makes it formidable competitor in the market
While it may seem that I’ve already lost my objectivity – it merely reflects the goal I set for myself – to work for a company that I can be passionate about – and for an organization that makes great things happen for its customers, continually innovates (e.g., Cisco iPrize), and has a vibrant community outreach effort (e.g., social responsibility).
Overall, I intend to remain very open, honest, and objective in how I view the IT world and in my Collaborative Thinking blog posts. While no longer an industry analyst, I want to maintain the level of transparency that has become my style and reputation over the years.
Thanks for taking the time to read this rather lengthy post. I share more as I get my footing. You can expect a return to a very active blogging effort on my part moving forward.