Mashing the Forrester and Jupiter Social Technologies Research teams

teampic2 Above Photo (Click to view notes): The combined Forrester and Jupiter Social Marketing and Social Computing Research teams (missing: Christine Overby, Nate Elliott, Tom Grant, Laura Ramos, Peter Burris, Steven Noble, Rebecca Jennings, Lisa Bradner, and Tom Cummings.)

The last time I participated in an acquisition I was part of the company that was getting bought, it was exciting –yet very scary.

The last two days, I’ve been relatively quiet online (despite my trying to start some rumors on twitter) as Jupiter and Forrester research teams met for the first time at Cambridge HQ. We had folks travel from Amsterdam, Paris, NY, Silicon Valley, as well as teleconferenced in from London and dial in from Silicon Valley.

Although this is just the start of a long road, this is significant in a few ways: 1) This is perhaps one of the largest research teams assembled at an analyst firm that’s primarily focused on the impacts of social computing to marketers. Although there are 16 analyst that we’ve identified as covering some aspect of the social space, not all focus on it full time as I do. 2) This was the first group of many within Forrester to integrate and ‘mashup’. It only seems fitting that a group focuses on ‘social’ would be the first to try. 3) The combined brain power yielded some interesting insights to where this market is currently and where it’s headed, while size doesn’t always indicate quality, with this larger team we can dig deeper into very specific areas of social media.

Many of us are going to blog our perspectives (I’ll link to them below) from both Forrester and Jupiter sides, so I’m just going to speak for myself. The key takeaway for is that we’re more alike than apart. While the Jupiter analysts would often approach the problem at a different angle than we were used to thinking about, almost always we would end in ‘head noding’ when it came to insights, findings, and recommendations. It was good to get to know Emily Riley, Michael Greene, David Card, Barry Parr, (Nate Elliott wasn’t able to join us) as well as some fellow Forrester colleagues I don’t get to see that often. I was particularly glad to meet Emily Riley, who’s research on communities, influence, and marketing were both impressive –yet strangely familiar in insights (and confirmation) as our own findings.

Aside from the fact that we got to know each other and were able to share a common bond for analyzing the same area, we were able to focus in on future research topics, take inventory of our areas of coverage, and socialize the POST process, Technographics, and learn about each research culture.

Now back to my story about getting acquired, it was at the tail of the dot bomb in Santa Clara, right in the heart of Silicon Valley, I was a junior web professional, working on the UI for the enterprise intranet at Exodus Communications, the company was falling at a rapid pace after a meteoric climb. We were snatched up by British Cable and Wireless, and spent the next few months integrating and filtering people, tying together systems, and eventually becoming one entity that is now still in existence. I remember so many questions being unanswered, uncertainty and my boss John Perera constantly telling me to ’embrace change, embrace change’.

Recently, I’ve spoken with a few clients who’d expressed concern about a few of our very smart analysts moving on, and I asked them what could I do to reassure them that we’re still heavily focused on giving them the same insights as before, and we agreed that we should transparently blog about the two new teams coming together, so I’m making it a point to do just that.

To be clear, this is just the start, and we’re all going to ’embrace change’, as we’ve identified many areas that we’ll have to work on as a team, there is some overlap of coverage, we all have individual approaches to the same problems, and the mixing of any two cultures will take time to settle. The key that we were able to come together, stand on common ground, and agree to move forward to deliver quality research that will help our clients make the right decisions. Personally, I’m reinvigorated and looking forward to what comes next.

Updates:
I’ll be linking to my colleagues perspectives as they appear. It’s refreshing to hear their honest takes on the last two days.

  • Aug 29: Emily Riley writes she’s Going Corporate, and observes my silicon valley lens.
  • Aug 29: David Card changes colors by Going Green, Embracing the Groundswell, etc, First Take, he notices the process too. Yup, but like good jazz, structured chord changes allows for amazing improv solos. The first step is to learn those chord progressions.
  • Aug 29: Blend master Josh Bernoff declares “It blends”
  • It was good we all met, I just got a project come in the day after the meeting that needs more than my expertise, I sent an email to David with details.
  • Below are some picture from the last two days which include some rare pictures of the research team at 400 Technology Square.

    0827200881708262008812blender08262008811P8260113onsitejoshPreparing for the picture

    Many of these pics were taken by Zach Hofer-Shall, who uploaded to our internal wiki, which I then snagged and put on Flickr with attribution.