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:




Constancy of Vision – Clarity of Values. The Character of One Effective Leader

Loren Data Corp, a small, fiercely competitive VAN (a Value Added Network, operating under the ECGrid® Trademark), has emerged from a nightmare.

Todd Gould, President of Loren Data, successfully guided his company through the B2B IT sector’s most active period of consolidation, and emerged with the company intact. The increased visibility came unbidden to Todd, who simply persevered to resolve a high-stakes network routing dispute with GXS (now OpenText). The dispute became an issue of great concern to all companies depending on VANs for the reliable routing of electronic supply chain (EDI) transactions.

Competing against larger organizations is routine for Loren Data Corp; Todd had refined a reliable formula for delivering targeted EDI communications services for service providers and B2B cloud applications. One can appreciate the challenges of balancing the risk of meeting such a dispute head-on, while maintaining ECGrid’s operational standards of  near-perfection.

Throughout this extraordinary time, Loren Data never faltered in its technical operations, providing critical network messaging services for a professional subscriber population composed of supply chain service providers, enterprise software OEMs, and virtual VANs. The Company maintains very collegial inter provider relationships with its interconnected peers; such relationships are critical for keeping EDI message traffic flowing around the globe. ECGrid processes tens of thousands of EDI messages daily, the Netops team covers three shifts of support, and Todd, in the role of CTO, pushes forward on delivering the next generation of transactional messaging and supplier community management. Reason enough for Todd to enjoy a fleeting moment of industry recognition? In a busy, lean operation, there might be exactly one minute to reflect. If community is any indicator, a brief read of the forums covering the industry indicate that Loren Data Corp’s founder is respected as a competent and multifaceted leader. A visionary perhaps? A Thought Leader, most definitely.

Here are a few of my notes and observations about the company, Loren Data Corp, and its President: Continue reading

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. 


The VAN Wars

The VAN Wars

Alan D. Wilensky, The Analyst Prince
bizQuirk Technology Strategists, LLC

A disturbing set of behaviors sparked by the VAN mergers has percolated throughout the EDI industry. Many of these behaviors existed before, in a minor, putative form, and most savvy network operators dealt with them in stride. But, the climate has turned somewhat dark in the industry of late. It could only be more perfect if this were the ides of March.
Are these tribulations due solely to the recent mergers? The answer is complex, but the root of the problem lies in the EDI Industry’s architecture, or rather, the lack of a good routing architecture.

What are these supposed malignant behaviors? Well, a previously settled culture of administrative and network operations is starting to fray. Generally, services done at a client’s request in order to conduct business or change providers is considered an inherent right. However, recent events have transpired to impede the rights of end-users, and the B2B application service providers that they have selected according to their rights and their unique needs.

Continue reading

Disingenuous Editorial Comment Policies

Thank you for your comment. Our policy, which you can read here:
does not allow comments that make assumptions about someone’s motives or employ name-calling.
Nevertheless, thank you for your interest in All Things Digital.
John Sullivan
Associate Editor

Mr. John Sullivan is the comment squad cop of Kara Swisher’s All thingsD .

I cant believe that I actually gave them a link! I am a fan of Kara Swisher, in a small way I have her in my RSS reader, and that means – I’m a subscriber!

So they don’t want my freaking comment on the Arrington blog super union venture; eh! Big deal, as if I said anything about him that hasn’t been said before.

I don’t know the man (Arrington), but I envy his success, and most of my snarky comments about him, Edgeio, Keith Teare (the man is right out of a JP Donleavy Novel), are just to get a rise out the bloggeratti.

So, Mr. Sullivan, editor of ALL things Digital – kiss my Hairy Hebrew Bum. I’m not even going to bother threatening to unsubscribe from the site, because it would hardly matter.

Mr. Sullivan should just know that he is bad part of the blog business, and he makes main stream media look good in comparison.


Sacramento – the sacred place where no tech gets done.

None that you have heard of, anyway. That’s because what goes in the valley, behind the funding, the side deals, the dirty deeds, is profane. Just like a David Lynch film title, town monikers such as Sunnyvale, conjure a veil of hidden evil. Sand Hill Road, envisions a den of vipers hiding in the obviously gritty substance.

The Bay Area will garner fame yet again for the redundant capital placed in YAVSS and YASN. Yet Another Video Sharing Site and Yet Another Social Network will be our legacy for this upcoming foul year of our lord 2008.

The vortex of financial woes in the larger economy, which thankfully shall not be repeated here, will extend inexorably toward the cherished technology forges of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area tech shops, crammed full of ‘Silicon Valley Undertakers’; men and, increasingly women who have developed a serial reputation of raising, burning, and selling off half started technology properties, many of the last round, clones of YAVSS, and YASN.

So Sacramento may have an exalted name and no tech credentials, but the Silicon Valley is unholy altogether in it’s capitalization practices of late.

It sometimes happens that vertical markets with proven business models in the old economy, primed to take advantage of the new Web 20 technologies that have sometimes languished in consumer ventures, are slapped down good’o, by those who should know better. These smaller, saner markets deserve a hearing, but are often shut out by the noise of the YAVSS and YASN. The unholy gatekeepers? Please – the VC partners. The blood of the valley will ultimately be on their hands by way of their closing every avenue to some of the best blue-collar mobile ventures.

And, no, I’m not just speaking of ThruDispatch, my errant venture. I’m speaking of tales of woe gleaned from entrepreneurs with much better credentials and curriculum vitae than myself.

This article shall be extended when I cool down.

Six Apart Seriously Mistaken Regarding Customer’s Gullibility

If little Mena and the Six Apart team think for one minute that Typepad users and account holders will be mollified by explanations for outages that include excuses like, “power Outages at our data center”, they have another thing coming.

If the Six Apart Data Center subcontractors can’t provide reliable, 24.7.365 power and hot standby, they are out of step with the professional hosting industry that has indeed become coin of the realm.

Six Apart’s weak-assed ‘power outage excuses’ are not acceptable to me, a professional account holder, who has had a fraction of the down-time on a free account.

It ma be time to give Mena and the gang their walking papers.

I stand Corrected: Egregious Editorial Hypocrisy at Buzzlogic – NOT!

Editor’s Apology:  Mr. Parsons has informed me that it was a CVS error that led to the article link evaporating. Ordinarily, the present article would be stricken, but as I think this is a teachable moment, it will be left intact, with my apologies to Buzzlogic, Mr. Parsons, and the other 5 and 1/2 readers of this blog. Just prior to routing Buzzlogic in the original post that launched my diatribe, I was strong armed by one of the equity investors of a famous brand monitoring startup. They had specifically indicated that they would, ‘wipe me and my articles off the blogosphere’, which I had taken to mean, legally, metaphorically.

It was precisely at that moment that a reader referred me to the broken link at Buzzlogic, “Sentiment Scoring Gets a Zero” – and I came to the wrong conclusion: a) Buzzlogic is not a sentiment analysis company, and b) the VC in question was not in any way allied with Buzzlogic’s funding sources. (But I had, in my paranoid bosom, bought into the whole skull and bones VC cabal thing).

Editor’s Note: Todd Parsons of Buzzlogic’s comment below claims that the disappearance of the article was a blog platform glitch, and I take him at his word – therefore this article may have been a knee jerk reaction to a broken link and a prelude to a longer story about shaking up the sentiment scoring apple cart and the stakes that some of the brand monitoring leaders have bet the farm on. Keep Posted.

One of the cardinal rules of those writing for the social media sphere is that once an article is posted and permalinked, one is not to delete them. Rather, one should use strike through to correct inaccuracies, or at least post a credible reason for taking the article down. Now, in actuality, who really cares when the subject is as obscure as my diatribe on sentiment scoring for brand monitoring and the weaknesses thereof? Really now…

The first problem we have here is that the article was posted as a commentary on my original post .

The more serious issue here is that although the Buzzlogic editor (was sufficiently in agreement with my position, the take down without notice and the breaking of permalinks is an awful move for a company that bases it raison detre on the significance of inbound and outbound links. Shame on you, Buzzlogic; you provide a great service for measuring influence, but you practiced an unforgivable editorial sin that will be difficult to redress.

For those wishing to see the cached copy of the original Buzzlogic post (thanks, Google!), here it is.

Text Mining for the Brand Intermediaries – a CGM Whodunnit

A Colloquial Treatment of the Product Performance and Outcomes Aspect of Mining of the Blogosphere for Brand Services Monitoring.
Alan Wilensky
The author’s recently posted monograph, “ Employing Advanced Natural Language Text Processing to Provide Guidance to Mid-Market Multiline Dealers and Product Distributors”, has generated a great deal of blog traffic, but some have asked for a more brief and colloquial treatment.
The following is a basic description of where the industry is, or has, led itself, and where the author thinks the industry should be going, based on research recently conducted for a telecom industry client. The resulting conclusions do not betray any verbatim strategic conclusions that the author provided to the client.
The Text Mining Industry, and in particular those specializing in brand monitoring services, have come to focus on ‘sentiment’ as the metric du jour. We all know the typical meaning of sentiment, it’s how we feel, or how we express how we feel. The problem occurs when we create machine scored metrics of a very human thing, such as sentiment, and expect the mined results from the blogosphere to make sense.
Other than the linguistic problems of generation (That is so bad [in one generation] means bad, in another it means really great – Pimp, is (a derogatory) in one generation and quite amazingly, good in another [ we be each other’s pimp] (advocates), [pimp my ride] (make fancy)). One can find even more subtle examples of how linguistic subtleties might confound an algorithm. There are many more robust social media metrics that far exceed the reliability of sentiment, or that can augment sentiment in order to strengthen the ultimate guidance that is being sought via the mining of the corpus in question, i.e., the blogosphere and/or public user forums.
But, linguistic problems aside, it is the role that the early text mining sector entrants have cast themselves in as ‘brand monitoring surrogates’, that is really a point of contention. Who is concerned with monitoring brand? Why, it’s the brand owners of the Fortune 1000. These large companies, mostly in the durable goods sector (for who blogs about toothpaste and other consumer packaged goods?), have had unfettered access to the best brand monitoring and consulting practices. AC Neilsen, Arbitron, and Gallup are the giants of this industry, but there are others.
Creating text mining services for the Fortune 1000 has been a high latency, fussy business. Whereas professional brand monitoring is based on actuarially sound models and standardized methods of sampling, these recently innovated ‘social media text mining services’, often have account reps, and sometimes, computational linguists (gasp), work with clients to identify verbiage that that does, or does not, express sentiments concerning products of interest and brand issues of concern. But there is a problem:
Catering to these brand owners is, as previously stated, a high latency business; contracts from the leaders sometimes take 2-4 weeks in the sales cycle, and 2+ weeks to setup the query and dashboard reporting. Furthermore, brand ownership is limited to the relatively small group of brand owners who are used to sampling brand awareness, and regularly avail themselves of brand equity practices, such as consulting. Such brand consulting businesses often make their nut by getting a percentage of the ad buy. This brave new world of ‘text mining of the blogosphere’ is a curiosity that has not made significant inroads into the brand monitoring business – maybe to the tune of a very optimistic $100M, compared to the entrenched brand services billions. There is also ample evidence that the clientele served, and the investors at equity in such new age ventures, are tiring quickly of the model and results.
So, what is needed for text mining of the public corpus to succeed? First of all, to turn the attention of these services from the brand equity owners, to the branding recipients – those who must deal with the customer’s perception of branding, product performance outcomes, and interactions with the entire spectrum of the product’s touch points – service, warranty, dealerships, etc.
Who are these prime recipients of brand decisions? Customers, certainly, but from the point of view of a web based service to analyze the public corpus, the true targets are the brand intermediaries. These intermediaries are multiline retailers and distributors that span the gamut of local shops, regional retailers, and national department stores and distributors. These are the true recipients of branding decisions, and have had very little guidance to steer their decisions as to whether or not to add or drop product lines, take advantage of ‘spiffs’ (incentives that cover cooperative advertising and floor-plan financing), or any decision affecting what brands to carry and promote.

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