Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Finding and Using the Right Content - IDC Directions Follow-up

Clare Gillan is Senior Vice President of Executive and Go-to-Market Programs at IDC. Her general session presentation was titled "The Year of the Sales Rep." Among many of the juicy tidbits in the presentation, she cited a 2009 analysis from the Savo Group that indicated only 20% of the content created by the marketing organization for sales, was actually used by sales. Think of the massive waste in terms of time spent, actual cost and opportunity cost. Although this example is specific to sales and marketing content, it could easily apply to content anywhere within the organization. In fact when you think about your own enterprise we bet you'd be surprised that even 20% is used.

Part of the reason for this lack of usage Clare hypothesized is the classic disconnect between sales and marketing. Marketing produces stuff assuming sales needs it, sales doesn't communicate customer pre-sale requirements to marketing and the ships pass in the night. This is certainly a reason. Here are some others that we would add to the list.

1. Inability to locate information. Even if you have an enterprise search technology in place, it's still often difficult to a) search across all content repositories in the business and b) receive search results that reflect the precise intent of the query. Nucleus Research finds that 34% of employees spend 2-5 hours per week searching for content they can use, and 28% spend 5 hours of more. Not how most sales managers want their sales people spending their time.

2. Content without context. Even if you locate content that you think you want, it is up to you, the end user to determine the context of when/how/what/where to use the content. While determining context may seem easy, it places a huge burden on the end user, and also a huge expectation that they'll get it right. Outdated content and poorly written content proliferates most organizations. If you could, wouldn't you want your employees to always have access to the more relevant, best examples of content.

3. Information overload. Sticking with more statistics from Nucleus Research, 67% of employees are overwhelmed by the volume of information they have to access despite (or maybe as a result of) enterprise search technologies such as Google or Autonomy. Who isn't overwhelmed?

So if 80% of marketing content created for sales is going unused, what's to blame?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why Enterprise 2.0 Won't Succeed - IDC Directions Follow-up

There was a great breakfast presentation on Tuesday the 17th by Michael Fauscette, Group Vice President, Software Business Solutions at IDC. The presentation was really about leveraging 2.0 technologies and approaches in the partner channel. But the broader Enterprise 2.0 piece was of course a part of the discussion.

The problem we (Contextware) have with 2.0 technologies and initiatives (ironic I'm blogging about this), is that regardless of the problem they are trying to solve they inherently lack structure in how information is captured and organized. The ability of the mob to contribute content and information via a wiki, blog, community of practice, twitter, yammer or blather is very democratic...but also chaotic by their nature, whereas businesses are highly structured entities and require organization of chaos to be effective. While this is a self-serving viewpoint for Contextware, since we argue that information should be structured around the processes people are tasked with performing, the viewpoint isn't without merit.

Enterprise 2.0 will experience the same problems that content management systems (one of its technological predecessors has):

-massive amounts of information produced stored in loose structures
-challenges navigating that content...with search often exacerbating the problem based on the number of results it returns
-determining stale vs. fresh content, and the battle to keep information relevant
-authoritative commentary vs. blather
-finding a way to capture information from the best performers in the business who often have the least amount of time to contribute.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

IDC Directions 2009 - Content Rich, IT Poor

I attended IDC's Directions conference in Boston earlier this week. This was the East Coast version of its West Coast twin held earlier in the month. According to one of the hosts, John Gantz, Chief Research Officer and SVP there were over 800 people in attendance. The rumors of the demise of the technology industry in this economy must be greatly exaggerated.

Credit to IDC for herding dozens of their analysts and hundreds of senior technology industry people into the Hynes conference center. It must have been the content. This is the first conference I've attended in a long time where there was more information of value than I could consume.

Networking opportunities were plentiful despite the openness of the space, and IDC analysts were readily available and approachable.

Not surprisingly, many of the attendees from software and technology companies that I spoke with are seeing their sales pipelines slashed and even existing contracts renegotiated. You see declines in tech spending mimic pretty closely declines in GDP, again no surprise.

The good news - at least from my perspective - is that good products, people and companies always seem to flourish in adverse environments and those that aren't...don't. Gantz was very optimistic about the future and I hope other attendees took that to heart.

We'll post more on some of the specific presentations over the next couple of days.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Performance Support Imperative for Training Professionals

Check out the most recent ezine version of the peer reviewed Training Industry Quarterly in the link below. We were asked to write a white paper on the topic of performance and training. Seems to be a common theme these days as training and learning organization budgets get crunched. According to the “2007 State of the Industry Report” prepared by the American Society for Training & Development investment in learning and development initiatives reached $134.39 billion in there is certainly some there...there. Consider some estimates on training’s effectiveness that suggest from 40% to 80% of training content doesn’t transfer to the worker. That’s significant money and time invested that could be redirected to any number of corporate initiatives if training doesn't find a way to be more relevant.