Next availability is 8/1/2016

It does happen occasionally that even companies with decent reputations will back out of a signed contract. I can squeal on them on my blog or take them to task (legally) but for a 6 week contract, eh….. Even though I really needed the work in this slow summer season, I let it go. If they want me in the future, they will have to pay this one off, and I will quietly place them on them on the shared “bad client” list.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch – who needs a research analyst or product advocate?

I am seeking new Analyst / Advocate contract work as of 8/1/2016. Massive portfolio and references of course.

The B2B Advocate’s Long Term Engagement – How long is too long?

I state in my outreach to new clients, “my engagements run 90 days to one year, maximum 18 months”.

At one year, the client has internalized my orientation briefings, we have assembled and pushed out several campaigns – or I do the pushing, solo.  Sometimes I upgrade a CRM with inbound automation, or set up cloud CRM with analytics matching and lead capture. All of these supporting systems are nothing special; I am not a sales automation guru, I am an advocate for companies who are not being heard.

I practice Active Voice Advocacy, writing posts and articles, creating simple diagrams or animations, if needed, and tracking the organic searches. My best work is done via direct outreach to potential partners, licensees, investors, and early stage client prospects. My work moves forward in parallel with my client’s internal marketing  – unless the in-place message or campaign methodologies are dysfunctional, and the product’s identity is at stake.  In these cases, a clean sheet approach is taken.

A year into the contract, I have sampled the sales channels and researched potential partner opportunities and competitors.  I refine the language that describes and differentiates the product – that language is worked into my articles and other channels. The goal is elevating a client to thought leader or innovator in the eyes of the sector’s trade press, analysts, and buyer constituencies. 

I can only try – and yes, it does help if a client actually has the goods – I do need something to work with.  Thankfully, many unknown innovators and true unrecognized thought leaders still languish in the Enterprise and B2B IT sector, and being able to play even a small role in their emergence is always a great honor.

At one year plus, I see diminishing returns on my services, but 50% of the time, I can go 18 months. Even with unlimited ideas and campaign variations, even standing in for the product manager for a while, etc.,  my true value is to create maximum momentum in the time span of less than one year. 

I think you see where this is going. I am never contracted to enlarge a company’s workforce; there are far less costly means of getting such sales and marketing tasks done. And, believe me  – I price  my service for best value, and my clients say I am priced below the market. 

 

Another request to republish a major article

Here we go again, an august member of the retailer community asked me to (re)post my (now infamous) “Fulcrum” briefing. I told this person that the article is prominently stuck to the sidebar of the front page of my blog, and he said that “my boss is about to make a VERY BIG DECISION regarding our messaging vendor, and he wants to see that your briefing is conspicuously available, because he has footnoted it in his memo to the board of directors. So please, Alan, put it in a post at the TOP of your blog”.

Hey, no problem. Here it is. All mine:

 

 

Not thrilled about the LinkedIn sale to Microsoft

and here comes Reid Hoffman with a not entirely bad long form article adapted from his opening remarks at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, on 6/25. 

One of the in line comments at the tail of the LinkedIn article was sincerely yet unintentionally funny, and I found myself unable to resist piggybacking on the typo made by the commenter – especially since I am not happy about the Microsoft buyout of LinkedIn….well, you know after what they did to so many other companies such as Skype (ruined), Nokia (buried), Sidekick (hey you forgot that little leading edge mobile device company that led the market by 5 years, and that MS absolutely destroyed with its management’s wrecking ball style)?

Here an innocent Kenyan comments to Reid: Original at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/entrepreneurship-fundamental-human-attribute-we-need-more-hoffman

 

Alexander Alea

God bless you I request you to my place turkana land part of Kenya to teach my pole about Entrepreneurship.

LikeReply
21
1d
Alan Wilensky
Analyst for Product Advocacy
Yes, Reid, please help this fellow’s pole – and while you are at it, could you fill your millions of loyal LinkedIn users of what you were thinking when you sold the baby to MS? No one I know expects that the software giant will bring anything resembling positive stewardship to this property you have so lovingly built up.

 

EDI Network Invoicing Opacity

VAN Invoicing Opacity –

What mama never told you

The Universal Complaint, if one was nominated in the EDI messaging sector, must be regarding Service Plan accounting, or what I call, “invoicing opacity”; it occurs when one attempts to reconcile a VAN bill with what you thought was your service plan / tier / stated rates. How did these extras get slipped in? They charge for interconnect traffic? and so on.

Things get particularly fraught when dealing with the madness with corporations selling VAN services via several aliases.  These corporations are amalgams of several businesses bought, sold, and reconstituted under a PE umbrella. With no founders or engineers left from the founding teams, these run down shells are denuded of essential institutional memory. We can instantly see why invoicing opacity has been routinely adopted by the PE managers and their C-Suite robot warriors at VAN HQ, or what’s left of it.

This  brief monograph lays an easy goal for the author – answering why most VAN invoicing is so opaque, especially as practiced by companies that should know better. These remnants of the declining VAN era should also be called upon to do better for the industry – laying bare an obvious question: “where is the VAN sector going”? And, “where will VAN clients go to once they are sufficiently fed up by the Value Subtracted Network model of the 201X EDI era?”

However, for the moment limiting ourselves to the advanced math of VAN invoice accounting, let’s at least throw down the primary reasons for confusion. After we accept that the situation is far from ideal, then the revolution may commence. Continue reading

State of Networked Messaging 2016 Q1 Late

State of Networked Messaging 2016 Q1 Late

bizQuirk

Abstract

Transactional Messaging, particularly in the B2B / Supply Chain domain, has been undergoing a series of protracted upheavals for the last decade, some would say longer. VANs, once the stalwarts of messaging sector, find themselves at the end of a long wind down, despite a hectic period of consolidation at the hands of professional PE.

The service once known as EDI messaging (at one time owned by VANs – period full stop), until recently, purchased as ala carte services, is being increasingly mutated into embedded functions within Enterprise Software and B2B platform services (SAAS).

And so on; change being the reliable constant in all things relating to vendor community management in the retail and manufacturing supply networks.

This article is condensed from the larger body of supply chain systems analysis compiled by the authors over the course of 2015, with an eye to calling the dance for 2016 – so far, the data has tracked accurately. Continue reading

Thought Leaders of 2016’s EDI Subsector

Identifying Prototypical Thought Leaders of 2016’s EDI Subsector
Saving what remains of the Supply Chain and Manufacturing centric transactional messaging market.

Executive Summary

The remaining EDI networks (VANs) post consolidation will require an invigorating outside presence or the guiding hands of smart and savvy veterans to turn around the present sorry state of affairs the industry finds itself in. Examined in this monograph: Who will step forward to right the ship, set a good example, and be Stewards to the EDI Networked Messaging Subsector??

Identifying those “Most Likely to Have a Positive Impact (i.e. Heros) is not challenging, because the opposite stands in stark evidentiary contrast by the PE stoked leviathans still haunting the sector, despite the inherent rot festering within their C-Suites and emanating outwards to their client / victims.

Eliminate the Negative

Postmortem rehashing of the VAN consolidation era – is too depressing to enrobe in ASCII characters, therefore we start with a positive note.

VANs consolidation stoked by PE has have perfected nothing but a talent for disappointing clients. If the 2015 Q3 IT support surveys are credible, Liaison and OpenText have taken X number of EDI networks of varying quality, and transformed them into two logical networks of the poorest quality.

As these megaliths have no founders skin left in the game, no original team equity, and having terminated, bought out, or fired the most experienced (and therefore costly) Software Engineering talent – where does the market now turn in this new year of 2016 for real, functional, EDI Communications services?

Accentuate the Positive

The EDI communications sector has its stalwart Founder / Engineers that have stayed in the sector. The this post was originally going to call these folks, “heros”, but I think I might call them them, “righteous gluttons for punishment”, as the term ‘martyr’ has been corrupted of late, but I digress.

These folks have chosen to fight rather than run, have elected to evolve their product roadmaps and innovate, despite a dark miasma that persists in hanging above the EDI sector like a pall.

We can readily identify these True Stewards.

They all have been very visible in the EDI forums, on linkedin, on EDI-L, everywhere being as outspoken as possible. Many write informative, almost scholarly (but always practical) articles and posts on topics that are timely, sometimes controversial, and occasionally arrow-like in their topicality.

Sometimes I wish they would state what is on my mind, and then I remember that they have a business to run, employees to pay, and that such hit and run commentary is better left to the analysts – that’s what we do,

How do we recognize them by their attributes? Well, at least informally, they write no filler – period full stop. They are deadly serious, but paradoxically sometimes hilarious in the midst of their pontifications – especially when debating a fellow EDI thought leader on the technical merits of somesuch standard or software engineering technique – protocols are always good fodder for debate, and then we can spot two of these giants at work.

But here is a better list that characterizes the personalities and their organizations generally, for their hard won positive attributes:

  1. They are Founder / Owners of closely-held corporations.
  2. The Founder(s) is often an Engineer or a scientist that has driven the original and often the continuing product or service vision of the Corp.
  3. They are a population of exemplary bootstrappers; known for shunning outside capital; if persuaded to dilute holdings, they do so cautiously. This has been the case when time-to-scale is at stake.
  4. Most of these EDI Leaders are at least a decade plus into their maturity cycle of providing services, delivering products, and generating solid net revenues.
  5. Most of them have been reliably making payroll for many years. They are responsible people.
  6. They have built handpicked teams, not general hires. One can plainly see a mentor / coach model. Their staff tenures exceed 65-75% of the company’s age.

Personal and business reputation, creditworthiness, and credibility is a watchword and life principle for these thought-leaders, they will not sacrifice their moral standing for temporal gains.

They are inherent, inveterate innovators. They own the knowledge space wherein they practice and do business – they are not threatened by colleagues who are worthy and just as opinionated. Without exception, all are the final authorities for advice in the highly technical arenas and scientific specialties where they practice.

I am never surprised when one of these, often a new client, shows me that they are also just as competent and expert in a completely unrelated field of scientific or technical endeavor, or in a difficult to master art.

Do you knows these leaders of the EDI sector? Can you name two or three? As a Tribute, I will name a few in the next post, and write a bit in what they have contributed to the art of transactional messaging or data layer services, etc.