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#TechNotes: Mind your quadrants please

Technology Changes … Get Over It

Gartner's Famous QuadrantHello. My name is Adam Stanley and I have a problem. I get excited by new technology. All the time. Well, I guess that’s not really the problem. The problem is that I get bored by the constant debates about which is better. And, with all due respect to Gartner, the technology quadrants REALLY bore me.

• In 1996, there were debates about which search engine was better: AltaVista or Excite. Google didn’t exist. Now those prior leaders are defunct.

• In 2006, the battle royale in mobile phones was between the Nokia 1600 and the BlackBerry Pearl. IT departments were trying desperately to stem the proliferation of mobile devices caused by Blackberry while a little known player Samsung was barely noticed. Apple iPhone did not exist, nor the Android phones that now account for over 75% of the smartphone market. Windows Phone didnt exist (some might say they still don’t …. but they are now #2 in UK market.)

• In 2007, MySpace had more users in the United States than Google, Facebook, or any other social networking site. Today a re-birthed MySpace has circa 1 Million users while Facebook has 1.2 Billion.

• In 2009, CTOs and CIOs were negotiating with telephone carriers to help manage telephony costs by cutting some of the ridiculous charges for text messaging, especially while roaming in other countries. Today, only my Dad still uses text messaging. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit, but the big phone companies lost over $32 billion in revenue last year as users flocked to Whatsapp, kik Messenger, and WeChat.

Who is the bright red ball today?

Who is the shiny red ball today?

My point? I don’t think we need to be debating which tool is the Gartner winner. We need to discuss and determine which tool can best help us answer specific questions at the optimal cost to value ratio for our current and immediate future needs. We should not care whether CurrentTech Inc fails or succeeds unless we own part of them. And our customers don’t need to know what specific technologies we are using to provide predictive or prescriptive analytics to them so long as they are helping them make better decisions.

Don’t get me wrong, here. I LOVE technology battles. Anyone that follows me on Twitter sees this regularly with my #techwars tweets.  Those battles drive innovation via robust competition. And those battles are precisely why quadrants are difficult. Companies no longer provide one major release a year. Many push out improvements daily. Thus, the days of choosing a tool and sticking with it for ever are long gone. And when an IT team tells an internal client they shouldn’t explore an option simply because it is not the standard or the current leader in a Quadrant? Shame! Is it time for Gartner and others to update their comparisons daily or change them to visualizations that allow you to change the matrix based on your specific requirements and point of view?

Be Well. Lead On.

Adam

Adam Stanley

Adam Stanley

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#TechNotes: Facebook, Snapchat, and the new new thing

nextbigthingblog2

Are we there yet?

I’ve enjoyed reading lots of the analysis out there about Facebook and whether or not their attempt to buy Snapchat is a sign of desperation. Reportedly, an offer of three billion was made by the company and rejected by Snapchat ‘s young leadership. Everyone immediately said Facebook was doomed. Now, snapchat has been hacked and Instagram Direct is trying to fight back, under its new parent of course, Facebook.

A few quick thoughts :
1) I cannot begin to imagine the conversation where I decide to turn down 3 billion dollars but I can understand why snapchat would do what they did. It is entirely possible in this rapid change environment that investors would place value on snapchat that is comparable to the value placed on Twitter . Now, to be clear, I do not feel that the value on Twitter is appropriate nor do I feel that investors would necessarily be making the right call to place such a value on Snapchat. That said, whether you believe it to be a bubble or not investors are putting a significant premium on social media applications, especially those that are highly focused on mobile.

2) Facebook is falling into the trap of many large companies. It is scared to let go. In today’s hyperpaced communication overloaded society, users will flock from one platform to the next with little transition time or switching costs. Perhaps Facebook Inc strategy should be to intentionally kill Facebook.com. Build the tool users will go to after Snapchat loses its luster. Building for the future almost means building amazing, but disposable, products for today. This is more than just pushing video ads to mobile phones. If they are good, they should be able to churn out new products and services much faster than competitors. If not, they will cease to be relevant like MySpace before them.

3) Some people are arguing that instagram, including the new instagram direct functionality, are Facebook’s answer to snap chat and their way of the remaining relevant for young people. I’ll offer an alternative theory. The reality is that, like Microsoft has done several times in the past, Facebook bought the popular photo sharing company because they thought it was the next big thing. But was it really the old next big thing? Facebook may have become the “late to the party” juggernaut that it would never have desired to be. Just as the lucrative 18 to 25 market has been leaving Facebook in droves, the same market will begin to leave instagram. Watch TLC, Bravo, A&E, and CNN and note how often they reference Instagram. Face it, when people over 35 start to use something, their children stop.

The bottom line is I don’t necessarily believe the Facebook is in its final days. I do believe, however, the company must drastically rethink their strategy and consider alternatives for growth in the United States. If they truly believe that growth in other markets will counter dramatic drops in USA, I believe that is misguided. Other markets will eventually follow the same path of the United States. Younger users will leave; older users will join the platform at a much lower level of engagement; upstarts will create the next next big thing and advertisers will be tempted away.

For now, I have sold my Facebook holding and bought a small Twitter holding so I can enjoy a brief ride on the wave of the current big thing. And I patiently await the next next big big thing. Oh wait! There it is….

Note: I am sure there are lots of Facebook fans out there that would tell me that I have lost my mind and perhaps I have. But, of course, I’ve heard that before. Post your comments below. I would love to hear from you.

Be Well. Lead On. And may the consumer be the ultimate victor of these fantastic #techwars.

Adam

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