Predictions 2008: Fighting Back a Recession and Increasing Trust

Instead of just jotting down the top trends that have a high probability of success and therefore are safe as predictions, I thought it would be interesting to first look at what the best bloggers have to say and see what the implications are for manufacturing, then go out on a limb and make some predictions.

Beginning with Jeff Nolan’s Venture Chronicles blog, his predictions are worth a quick read and some thought. Jeff’s Venture Chronicles blog consistently delivers exceptional content, and is worth adding to your RSS Reader as well.

From Paul Greenberg who is considered the leading blogger and author in the CRM industry, his predictions are also worth checking out. Read his predictions here; they are thought provoking for any manufacturer working to stay and grow relevant to their customers.

Bob Parker and his team at Manufacturing Insights of IDC serve up an excellent set of predictions every year. He and his team are providing a free Webcast of manufacturing predictions on Jan. 8, and you can register free (simple opt in). IDC is really good about not barraging you with unwanted spam mail and calls too — so no worries opting in to listen to this.

10 Worth Mentioning

Taking a very scientific approach to defining my own predictions (which involves putting post-it notes of all predictions on the dartboard in the garage and sharing dart throws with my daughter at each), the following 10 were direct hits:

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  1. Trusted social networking on steroids begins an ascent to credibility. There’s so much being written about social networking yet so little on quantifying trust and validating person’s identities on these sites that 2008 will most likely be a year there will most likely be an intense focus on validating identities and affiliations. The Beacon fiasco scared the wits out of even progressive-thinking chief information officers; before social networking goes prime time the issue of trust and authenticity will have to be addressed.
  2. SaaS (Software as a Service) integration gets proven with supply chain to channel management systems links making entirely new selling strategies possible. This is a prediction that many have made in previous years, yet 2008 will be, I think, a breakout year for SaaS platforms to show their enterprise strength in this regard. Being able to have visibility across all order capture systems, and see their impact on the supply chain, all delivered on a SaaS platform, will become increasingly commonplace.
  3. Business Intelligence (BI) becomes the recession fighter. With the risk of a recession hanging around throughout 2008 like a high maintenance relative who doesn’t know when to go home after the holidays, BI is going to be the foundation for fighting back bad economic news, and creating entirely new approaches to measuring marketing, manufacturing, services, pricing and operations performance.

    BI is going to be bought like insurance and a safety net. Dashboards already pervade manufacturing industries; the use of new key performance indicators (KPIs) that are more real-time in nature is coming in 2008. Oracle’s announcement of their Manufacturing Operations Hub is going to be a longer-term catalyst for an augmented set of KPIs or metrics based on real-time data. Manufacturing intelligence also will fuel more interest in manufacturing quality strategies that aren’t just pigeonholed in internal auditing departments, but more enterprise-wide in scope.

  4. Channel management apps add the ability to audit marketing strategies past the department to the role level. There’s an interesting undercurrent in many marketing departments regarding the use of marketing audits to evaluate the performance of initiatives, strategies and programs.

    As BPM (business process management) apps become more pervasive, their use in customer-facing strategies will significantly increase. Chief marketing officers are seeking solutions to tying together process performance to marketing strategy results, so the question can be answered “So is the process or the strategy more or less effective and why?” An economic downturn would just hasten this happening as accountability will go up fast.

  5. Integrated marketing campaigns coordinated with and between channel partners and manufactures become increasingly necessary to fight price competition in key high tech verticals. Predicated on the Cisco strategy of offering master specialization specifically in the area of security to its resellers on Feb. 13, channel management and marketing apps will scale to support more integrated marketing campaign development and execution.

    Cisco’s master specialization program has been very effective in aligning those resellers who can effectively solution sell, have broad and deep knowledge of Cisco products and networking in general, and have the financial resources to offer lifetime support. In short, the master specialization program from Cisco gives the Master Partner the flexibility of choosing which monetary incentives to enroll in at the lowest possible cost to them, in addition to being able to selectively use Cisco’s advanced partner support resources to gain a local competitive advantage.

    The outcome of this master specialization is an increasing reliance on creating integrated marketing campaigns that surpass in complexity and scope the types of projects done through traditional co-op, including “Intel Inside,” for example.

  6. Microsoft swings for the fence in 2008 with three launches in one. Coming up on Feb. 27, Microsoft is launching Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, and SQL Server 2008. The theme of the launch is “Heroes Happen Here,” and the extent of partner coordination is clear from this site.

    Microsoft is saying this is the most comprehensive launch in the company’s history, and has a budget of US$150 million. You can sign up for the launch event here. When you strip away all the hype what you’ll see in this launch is Microsoft’s doubling down on its partner channel; this is all about creating revenue opportunities for its global resellers and partners.

  7. Mobile apps based on Google’s Android go through a massive hype cycle yet do not reach critical mass in the enterprise. Android’s potential will not be realized in 2008 despite a ton of hype being heaped on the initial enterprise apps being rolled out.

    The long-term implications for supply chain management, service lifecycle management, and most pervasively, channel management, will fail to be realized as organizations struggle not so much with the technology, but with how to re-architect their processes to compensate for the wealth of data. Incident-specific data is something many organizations will grapple with how to manage as a competitive advantage in 2008.

  8. Amazon Web Services brings its A game to the enterprise. For the last several months the blog for Amazon Web Services has been quite active with a wealth of information on the Web Services, developer insights and tools available for creating enterprise-class apps using this platform. Amazon Web Services is ready for a breakout year in the enterprise; expect to see them excel in 2008.
  9. Recessionary fears fuel the adoption of Enterprise 2.0 as transparency over transactions becomes critical for companies relying on channels. Given how competitive it will most likely get for indirect channel partners’ revenues, more companies will look to Enterprise 2.0 strategies for retaining their partners’ loyalty are striving to be more transparent and trustworthy than ever before.
  10. Except to see Google capitalize on the wealth of research in natural language processing including textual and multi-document analysis. It’s fascinating to visit the Google Labs page from time to time and see what their engineers are presenting and writing on. A personal favorite of mine is the natural language processing (NLP) area, where Google has posted papers written on semantic analysis of statements and entire series of documents.

    Imagine taking all those entries in a CRM system and using multi-document NLP techniques to analyze them on a customer-by-customer basis; the insights gained would be invaluable. Expect to see Google announce the ability to interpret statements and potentially entire documents in 2008.

There are many other predictions that could be made, including the attack of the AdWords clones, the common consolidation and M&A statements as well — but all that is too easy, and quite frankly, boring to write about — better to go after the more interesting potential developments in 2008. Thank you for reading my article and may you have a happy and healthy New Years and a wonderful and prosperous 2008.

Louis Columbus, a CRM Buyer columnist, is a former senior analyst with AMR Research. He has worked with enterprise clients on defining solutions to their channel management, order management and service lifecycle management strategies. He also teaches graduate-level international business and marketing courses at Webster-Loyola Marymount University and University of California, Irvine. He is the author of fifteen books on technology and two books on analyst relations. His book, Getting Results From Your Analyst Relations Strategies, can be downloaded for free.

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