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.

    • http://www.roninmarketeer.com John Wall

      That’s funny, I was working a dot bomb myself the same time and we hosted at Exodus – I remember board presentations showing off the redundant power system and earthquake resistant architecture. I think it rolled over again from C&W to Saavis?

    • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

      That’s right, it became Savvis after I left, there were great pains taken to avoid any damage to the datacenter.

    • http://www.customerthink.com/user/graham_hill Graham Hill

      Hi Jeremiah

      Good luck with the merger-integration. I have been involved in 10 mergers over the past few years as part of the bought company, part of the buying company or as a merger-integration consultant. Most mergers don’t work quite as they were originally intended.

      I assume that the two social computing teams coming together will inevitably shed some analysts, either because there are too many or because of ‘organisational’ issues.

      This can be a great thing for the analysts concerned, once they have got over leaving. It allows them to go back and get their hands dirty again doing social computing as a day job. In my experience, there is a huge difference between analytsts who are fresh out of the daily business and those who have spent far too long in their analyst ivory towers.

      Keep up the great blogging.

      Graham Hill
      Independent CRM Consultant
      Interim CRM Manager

    • http://mediadiet.net Heath Row

      I worked through two Fast Company acquisitions (by Gruner + Jahr, and then by Joe Mansueto), and we’re currently still integrating DoubleClick into Google. It’s true that mergers never work as well as they might, and it’s interesting how a lot of decisions make themselves. People don’t fit culturally and choose to leave. Darwinism sometimes dictates what practices and processes catch on. Etcetera. The challenge is to foster the acceleration of those self-decisions so hurdles aren’t erected. And to give folks a chance to find the best of both worlds.

    • http://www.customerthink.com/user/graham_hill Graham Hill

      Jeremiah

      Maybe this is a great opportunity to practice what you preach and use proper social network analysis (SNA) to look at the two organisations’ social networks (including partners, customers and other stakeholders) and to use the insights to drive more effective merger-integration.

      There are a number of recent case studies out there that showcase how SNA can be used in merger-integration and related work, so you don’t need to reinvent any wheels.

      I helped a 100-strong building company to integrate two offices and prepare for growth a while back. An SNA administered through a survey and supporting interviews provided me with all the information I needed about the two organisations’ social networks to help the company plan their integration more effectively.

      Drop me a line at graham(dot)hill(at)web(dot)de if you want me to send you the case studies.

      Graham Hill

    • http://blogs.zdnet.com/feeds Jennifer Leggio

      Looks like a very strong team but I can’t get over how young most of it appears to be. I could see how that might be daunting to business heads.

      As for the acquisition, it seems like you guys have a good culture fit. I got out of Hyperion right before the Oracle acquisition and before all of the merger of employees happen. That’s the type of acquisition that scares me. The merger of smaller teams at smaller companies should be relatively easy if the ducks are in a row (other than Livingston Comm and SMG, clearly didn’t do their research up front).

      I think this is a good move for Forrester and Jupiter. I expect to see many good things come out of this team. And as a brand new Forrester client, I’ll likely be putting it to task. ;-)

    • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

      Jennifer

      On behalf of the back row, we thank you ;)

      Some of the talented and younger folks that you may see (well we’re all young at heart) are likely some of the research associates that are the foundation for analysts to really be successful.

      You may want to zoom in, as you’ll see that we’ve an appropriate mixture of age in the group.

      As to the other comments, you’re all right, we’ll have to see how it sorts out, perhaps one good thing is that we were able to ‘lay it out on the table’ and kick things off with a fairly transparent first two days. More to come soon, stay tuned.

    • http://blogs.zdnet.com/feeds Jennifer Leggio

      I completely agree. I was thinking more along the lines of the stodgy business folks — except those folks are the ones that are slow to social media anyway. :-)

      I dug into the new team and I am impressed with the remarkable breadth of talent you guys have. I’m really looking forward to working with you all.

    • Tom

      Not sure if you saw this pic, but I got a good laugh out of it. After I missed the photo op by about 8 seconds, we took a pic of just me….Jen p-chopped me in that afternoon. I got a kick out of it:

    • Tom

      and the link (just delete the spaces): http: //i2. photobucket .com/albums/y21/tac379/Tomadded.gif

    • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

      Pretty good Jen/Thomas

      you can ‘lean on me’ anytime. :)

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    • http://www.halleyscomment.blogspot.com Halley Suitt

      Great team!

    • http://mediadiet.net/ Heath Row

      I worked through two Fast Company acquisitions (by Gruner + Jahr, and then by Joe Mansueto), and we're currently still integrating DoubleClick into Google. It's true that mergers never work as well as they might, and it's interesting how a lot of decisions make themselves. People don't fit culturally and choose to leave. Darwinism sometimes dictates what practices and processes catch on. Etcetera. The challenge is to foster the acceleration of those self-decisions so hurdles aren't erected. And to give folks a chance to find the best of both worlds.