How Do Enterprise Buyers Research New Software?

A few weeks ago, I wanted to know what role “social” plays in researching enterprise software.  Every one of the billion dollar companies that responded to my inquiry said that blogs, social networks (from Twitter to LinkedIn), and online forums weighed heavily in their initial research and opinion formulation process.  Of course, the traditional research houses (Gartner, Forrester, IDC)  are still the strongest sources of unbiased insights and strategic guidance on large enterprise software.  But, the emphasis on searching social sources for initial inquiries confirmed what I believe strongly –  if you’re selling enterprise software, you need to be a part of the conversation online.

After a very long-threaded discussion, we came up with this mapping to indicate where sources fit in the context of a very nuanced process to research new software players. See if it resonates with you.

This map courtesy of Joachim Stroh.


In related research news, I have had the pleasure this year to work with Jane McConnell on developing input to her annual Digital Workplace Trends report.  I suggested she develop a customized Digital Workplace Scorecard for this year’s report.  It will be very handy to track these scorecards over time as enterprises mature.  It can become a benchmark to demonstrate the material returns on transformation initiatives.  The research will be done in February,  and I’m looking forward to presenting it here in the U.S.  You have until October 28 to contribute to the survey.  Learn more here.

As you should know, we are working hard on Change Agents Worldwide.  We are currently testing our models in the market with customers.  Once we’ve moved a few customers through our unique approach to delivering on the business of world-changing, we will be making a formal announcement that explains our goals for the company.  As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

What’s Your Story?



Every social graph tells a story.  In this sweeping visualization of nodes and connections, you can see the shape of my career history and relationships.  This imprint of my LinkedIn social network was generated yesterday. You can see how new contacts and interrelationships jettisoned off from my base when I started to work at 7Summits.  You can also see  how one person in my network connected two clusters. You can also see how some of my “Austin” friends are also “Dachis Group” friends.  The LinkedIn Maps tool will show you who is most influential in your network and how their connections overlap with yours.  Definitely worth a download and a journey into your own path.

I have been invited to speak to an upper level undergraduate class at UT Austin,  The associate professor is Dr. Jeffrey Treem teaches a course called, “Social Media and Organizations.” Among other things, I plan to talk to the students about the vital role our network plays in our career. It can serve as the very foundation of our success.  Regardless of the company or the organization you are affiliated with at any moment, the real value in your work experience comes from the relationships you form.  The reciprocal trust and value exchange you negotiate with each and every node in your network is the real asset of your career.  Sure – credentials, knowledge, performance, achievements – all matter a great deal, but they pale in comparison to the power of your own personal network.  Think carefully about your most significant career changes, chances are someone you know played an assist in your move.

I’ve always been fascinated with Social Network Analysis to draw conclusions and make predictions about organizational performance.  The science is there, and I know that some of the larger social collaboration and community platform companies are doing impressive work in this area.  Michael Wu, Chief Scientist at Lithium, is one of the more interesting veteran researchers to talk to on this subject.  He has been applying social sciences and large-scale network analysis techniques to make actionable observations and predictions for the benefit of Lithium’s many customers for years.  I know that Jive has expertise and some ongoing work in this area too.  David Gutelius, whose company Proxima was acquired by Jive, is a lead in this area for Jive.   While I was at IBM Connect last month, I saw a number of experimental research projects showcased in IBM’s Innovation Lab.  Several of them held a great deal of promise.  For instance, Community Player analyses how a certain event or community member influences behavior in a network.  Community Player is being developed by researchers at IBM Research in Haifa.  It originated as part of the EU-FPZ project ROBUST.  System U focuses on exploring computational discovery of people’s intrinsic traits from the traces they leave on social media.  The project focuses on profiling customers as individuals, yet on a very large scale.  This research is being done at IBM Research – Almaden.  And something that a few of us have been kicking around for a while is being explored at IBM called Work Marketplace.  It’s a concept around crowdsourcing your network for work and projects.

Dr. Treem and his academic colleagues are working on studying this area.  I’m really looking forward to diving into this more and learning as much as I can about the current state of this sort of organizational science.  If you have sources (academic and commercial) on how SNA is being applied in enterprise networks, please let me know.  It’s a key area that holds tremendous promise.




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I, For One, Welcome our New Social Data Overlords

Historically, the trouble I’ve always had with social media was the precision deficit surrounding the interpretation of its influence.  It always seemed to me that if you could get, say, Chris Brogan to talk about anything, you were successful with social media.  Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, and social media has really never been my area of expertise in the spectrum of all social business.  Readers of this blog know I focus more on the internal enterprise side of social business.  Because, well, it is more rational maybe?  See my coverage of my first SXSW Interactive.


Before I got back into the technology sector in the 90s, I spent a solid few years in the Advertising business.  And not digital or online advertising (it didn’t exist yet). In the real Advertising (TV/Broadcast/Print) world. (With a capital A.)  Think of it as Mad Men for Yuppies (late 80s).  I entered the ad world as an Account Executive on the IBM account. The agency I joined, LGFE, was a boutique outfit, a part of JWT.  We had 100% of the IBM business.  In 1980 dollars, we had a $160M annual media budget for IBM and it comprised the lion’s share of the agency’s billings.  The agency was best known for two things: 1. its launch of the IBM PC and 2. its famous Executive “breakaway” which literally made Advertising history.  But those are great stories for another day.  Like most LGFE employees after the breakaway, I skedaddled my way down Madison Avenue to a new position with Ogilvy & Mather where I helped teach our Creatives about the Unix operating system.  Again, great stories for another day, another blog.  I just wanted to establish a little Mad Street Cred before I get to the heart of this post.

When I think about the burgeoning world of social media, I compare its trends and “findings” with what we were doing 30 years ago in Advertising. Even back then, for all the hoopla, big expense accounts, private limos, and 5-star hotels, Advertising was pretty serious stuff.  It was all about the numbers. (We all thanked the technology gods for Lotus 1-2-3.)  Campaigns that strove to cultivate an emotional connection to a brand were paid for by executives who wanted to see stone cold returns on their investment.  And, I’m going way out on a limb here, after 30 years I’m pretty sure that hasn’t changed.  In fact, the pressure to deliver results from media spend is probably more fierce than ever considering the fracturing of a traditional media landscape that was fairly easy to manipulate in the old days before the Internet and mobile technology.

So fast forward to 2011. No, 2010.  Erik Huddleston joined Dachis Group as CTO. When Erik first arrived, I wasn’t sure what he was going to do.  Get our wifi working in the office or something.  But, the next thing I knew, Erik was presenting at Defrag, whaaa? and young men in black tee shirts that said, “Hadoop” started skulking around the office.   I finally got briefed on what this little dream team was working on buried away in remote locations around the world, and I was kinda blown away.

A beginning step in that effort is announced today for public consumption.  Erik’s team has built a platform that crunches hundreds of millions of data points in near real time to deliver a view on how social a given company is –  how they compare to their industry, their competitors – broken down as best in class by company, subsidiary, geography, department and brand. Culling from APIs, data buys, data partnerships, page scrapes, crowd-sourced data, company contributions, and our own internal data team, we now offer the Social Business Index (SBI) to anyone who wants to get a view into how your company’s brand is performing on the social web.  Over 100 leading companies participated in the early access program to get the data refined and help develop useful insights for its use.  The SBI offers insights for 26,000 brands from over 20,000 companies by analyzing over 100 million social accounts world wide, and hundreds of millions of other sources.

Again, the SBI is simply a lightweight lens on a massive platform that is compiling ground-breaking social data analytics and analysis.  The SBI is free for the companies covered and anyone can sign up to see how your brand is doing at

This first effort is just a taste of what is coming.  Big data will yield something that has been inconveniently missing in marketing on a large scale: evidence-based marketing with business outcomes correlated to measurable metrics. Internet marketers have done a great job with what’s known as performance marketing, but with the advent of big data, marketing spend can be targeted with much greater precision and brands can engage meaningfully in near real time. In fact, interactive advertising has finally matched broadcast TV spend.  Forrester recently reported that, “By 2016, advertisers will spend $77 billion on interactive marketing – as much as they do on television today.”

This post is a departure from what I typically cover regarding the Enterprise 2.0 sector, but I’m extremely excited about this work.  On the road map is deep analysis into workforce/partner/supplier engagement, so the relevance for the enterprise is huge.  Even having this type of brand intelligence will impact internal operations in many ways.  Agile companies who can react quickly, will be competitive winners in their categories.

If Dachis Group is known only for its BSD (Big Social Data), then I am totally cool with that.  Being first to market with real ROI on social is sweet, and will go far to relegate the buzzfest of social media 1.0 to the history books.


As a Matter of Fact…

Well, well, well.   Didn’t I relish that gushing endorsement of social computing last week by Marc BenioffYes. I did. As the conversation took off on Twitter, what was game-changing-significant was that a tech celeb– known very well in Enterprise circles, as well as the financial community– threw his Enterprise SaaS hat in the ring and announced the company’s, “Biggest breakthrough ever: Salesforce Chatter.”  Of course, Salesforce Chatter is the company’s answer to social computing.

Sometimes it takes a celebrity to help a new technology cross the chasm.  But more often than not, however, the most influential catalyst is market acceptance.  So, whilst I welcome the newfound attention and consciousness-raising for 2.0 adoption in business, I’m eager to start publishing some of the factual data that supports the hype is not without merit.

The 2.0 Adoption Council is now unveiling some of the research we’ve been collecting on our members.  The first synopsis report should be ready this week, available for download.   The survey reflects responses from over 70 of our members spanning over 17 industries, managing over $50M in budgets expressly dedicated to Enterprise 2.0 initiatives.

Here are some quick data points that are proving interesting:

adoption research

In addition to our survey research, The Council has also released its first “how-to” report, “A Framework for 2.0 Adoption in the Enterprise.”  This report was written by Gil Yehuda after interviewing members who described a narrative on how rolling out an initiative worked at their large enterprise.  The paper tracks neatly through a logical iterative sequence and “Director’s Commentary” on how to successfully introduce 2.0 technology and practices to a diverse employee base.

Picture 10

The market survey results should be ready this week for download free (courtesy of OpenText who sponsored the study), but the “Framework” report is available now for $425 in our store.

More good news coming from the Council includes the announcements of some strategic relationships, as well as a new web site currently in production.

Stay tuned.

Fact-gathering on 2.0 Adoption

The recent acquisition of Headshift by the Dachis Group was largely celebrated in the e2.0 community. As I commented for RWW, it’s a testament to a growing, maturing market. Enterprise interest in incorporating 2.0 tools and practices has never been higher. With this stage of evolution comes the good stuff, the fact-based data that helps guide our understanding of where we are, what it takes to get this right, who’s behind Enterprise 2.0 initiatives, what expectations are for business results, how much money will move through the market, etc.

I was really excited to see McKinsey’s 2009 “How Companies are Benefiting from Web 2.0” report that came out this week. Having come from a large consulting background tracking the IT services sector, it’s a raw indicator that the 2.0 phenomenon is about to break out of the echo chamber when the large consulting firms start paying attention. Some of our best contributors in the Council are large consulting firms who are rolling out their own initiatives, and I expect these firms will leverage this intelligence to build their own practices at some point. During the first evolution of the web, a whole host of IT services firms cropped up to take advantage of the promise of enterprise transformation via the web. Most of those firms fell flat in the dotcom meltdown bringing down investors, customers, employees, and the echo chamber. I did a huge research report that profiled who those companies were and what dynamics were driving that sector. What did succeed, royally, from that era is the undeniable impact electronic commerce brought to the consumer and enterprise sectors. Seeing “what could be” drove the vision of many of those early firms, and even if their dreams crumbled under the weight of their own ambition (and hubris), they were correct about identifying the potential of the Internet to radically change business.

So, we’ve moved from e-business to social business in a decade. While the hype factor is still a little deafening, I’m thrilled to announce we will be kicking off the first in-depth exploration into the 2.0 adoption phenomenon to bring some clarity to the maturing market sector. To conduct this research, I’m pleased to announce the Council has signed a strategic partnership with Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen of Information Architected to conduct a qualitative research study on the dynamics surrounding 2.0 adoption, as well as quantitative data on our members relative to industry, professional profiles (titles, organization), budgets, and other data points that present a portrait of who the early adopters really are. I’ve done some preliminary inquiries on our Council members and have already discovered a number of surprising findings that I would not have predicted. For instance, budgets for 2.0 are a lot higher than I would have guessed (if at all even established).

Other interesting findings reveal that IT is not driving many of the decisions to implement a wide-scale enterprise 2.0 initiative. Lines of business comprise the lion’s share of our members.

One of the greatest goals for this research is to finally highlight salient case studies that explain the motivation behind the 2.0 effort as well as the expected business results.

For example, I conducted an interview this week with a very well known Wall Street investment bank. It was the audit and compliance global organization that drove an e20 solution to answer an age-old problem: high inefficiencies and underutilization. It’s an impressive global rollout that incorporates 5 financial center locations with approximately 200 of the firm’s subject matter experts in product, trading desk, regulatory, and banking. The initiative has yielded a “huge leap forward” according to the bank due to the transparency and visibility the firm has now as a result of breaking down the fiefdom walls that impeded the firm’s progress in years past. Greatest challenge? The people issues. It forces employees to communicate more. Additionally, the new processes expose the weak links in the firm and threaten job security/relevance. Greatest benefit? The initiative answers to the Board of Directors and provides predictable, reliable reporting that mitigates risk and ensures regulatory compliance. I asked my contact if the effort played any role in the financial recovery of this particular firm, he said not really because this was purely a cost-containment effort, yet he added, “The platform should, however, allow [the firm] to be more nimble in the face of increased regulatory scrutiny. Management can now see the effects of re-allocating resources to review areas of the firm with a higher perceived risk.”

All good stuff. There are so many exciting initiatives going on within the Council membership, I am thrilled to be able to bring them to light via our research. We will be presenting top-line findings of this research at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco (Nov. 2 – 5). The Council has a number of initiatives going on at the conference, and I’ll be blogging about them in the upcoming weeks.

If you are a customer in the throes of adoption and would like to participate in the research, please simply request to join The 2.0 Adoption Council. Membership is free and you will receive a tremendous return on your (non) investment.