diginomica 2014 - Jon's choice

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed December 25, 2014
Jon Reed selects his personal favorite stories from 2014 on diginomica.


That charming taskmaster you know as scribe-par-excellence Stuart Lauchlan asked each of us to submit our top ten picks from our own 2014 diginomica missives. What follows is my own incredibly subjective picks of my diginomica pieces of 2014 - and why I chose 'em. Oh, and Stuart, to quote Spinal Tap - "This one goes to 11."

11. Running the media, cloud style with the CTO of Fast Company

I still remember when the first issue of Fast Company came out. I can still recall seeing it on the stand and buying it immediately. I guess that was 1995. The magazine somehow legitimized the startup path I was on. It made me think I wasnít just playing around.

Why?  The tale of a very smart, and atypical CTO, whose journey brought me back to a time where my own startup dreams were sparked by the first issue of Fast Company.

10. The rules of developer engagement with Narinder Singh

Lip service to so-called 'developer engagement' is running rampant. But few companies grasp the business impact developer communities can have, or even if they do, they are struggling to make it so. Given that apps are supposedly eating the world, this is an odd state of affairs. To get a better handle, I tracked down Narinder Singh of topcoder.

Why?  Narinder is far ahead of most in terms of building developer communities and tying that into a re-invented consulting and crowdsourcing model. It was a blast to kick this topic around with him - I thought it would be useful to break his views down into "rules" other companies could adapt and adopt.

9. What makes a great enterprise consultant?

Soft skills is an extensive discussion that digs into specifics of process modeling and know-how, change management, design thinking and so forth. But the bottom line is: if you donít add value to the on-site team, why are you here? Answer: you probably wonít be for much longer.

Why?  There's no longer a margin for error in enterprise consulting. Customers expect results and it's up to the consultant to demostrate their on-site value. This piece riffs on John Appleby's piece on the topic and adds my own skills breakdown and recommends for customers, partners, and consultants.

8. Why the informed buyer is ruining the content party

As if content marketing ROI wasnít hard enough, the informed buyer has come along and ruined the content party. Social media isn't faring much better, with broadcast binges of content brandware having ñ at best ñ minimal impact on the B2B buying process. Why?

Why? This wasn't my most popular piece on content strategy in 2014, but I think it was the best. The informed buyer is not an original idea on my part, but I tried to extend the definition by looking at the role of content PRIOR to search-based research - and why so many companies are blowing this chance to engage.

7. Influencer programs - avoiding the big missteps

The notion that companies must cater to a Twitter pajama party is depressing ñ and intellectually vacant to boot. Maybe thatís why companies tend to struggle with influencer programs. But there are potent benefits to getting it right.

Why?  Since I don't fit into a classic analyst or reporter bucket, I tend to be a bit of a head-scratcher for communications teams. But that also affords me a view into how to engage so-called "influencers" - and how to screw it up.

6. How Cogniciti built a brain health app with cloud services

Three years ago, serial entrepreneur Michael Meagher got one of those phone calls that changes everything. On the line was the board of Cogniciti, who needed his help to forge their brain health research into a public-facing venture.

Why?  This use case slipped under the radar socially (it happens sometimes, alas). But I thought it was a pretty amazing story of a free exam that can have immediate impact - and a cloud story of building a solution without the aid of an IT department.

5. Big data gotchas and agile BI lessons from TDWI Boston

Cloud BI is still in limbo between genuine trend and marketing exercise. I was expecting a bit more gusto behind cloud BI solutions, but from a customer angle, it just didnít connect in a jugular 'we need this, and we need it right now' way.

Why? The Boston TDWI show was a terrific gut check on big data and analytics hype. In this show review, I grappled with customer views on a range of BI issues. These are the BI questions I will pester people with in 2015.

4. Social media failures don't matter,  but culture does

Social media may be failing as a means of brand-based promotion, but itís an invaluable way to foster a public conversation that informs future products and corporate direction. But as weíve seen, companies can only engage in such transparency if their own house is in order.

Why?  We all enjoy social media failure porn. But culture is the real culprit. From stricly a writing standpoint, this was probably my favorite this year. It was one of those pieces you wrestle with, almost delete in frustration, and keep pushing through until you're ready to hit "Publish".

3. For enterprise software, adoption is the new lock-in

Idealizing adoption and customer choice comes at the expense of a reality where software is still pricey, no matter the purchase model. 'Free' products offer valuable sandboxing but for full-fledged installs, do-it-yourself comes with a price tag of its own.

Why?  I dug into this piece from a number of outside perspectives, testing a framework for evaluating enterprise vendor success in terms of user adoption, rather than multi-year lock-in. It's not a perfect thesis but it does raise questions about how user experience and apps ecosystems are influencing buyers.

2. How do we solve the Enterprise UX skills gap?

As CIOs grapple with the UX imperative sparked by business users and consumer apps, skills gaps will cause migraines. Catering to scarce UX rock stars will be less effective than forming balanced teams.

Why?  The second article in an ongoing series I am writing on Enterprise UX, with an eye towards skills development. I'm trying to move beyond the knee-jerk assumption that consumer-grade UX will solve the Enterprise UX challenge.

1. Enterprise hits and misses - December 15

I enjoy re/code, but if this kind of cut/paste jobber, where you're basically stealing Google News traffic from another site with no added value, is a view of future browsing, then I'm gonna squander my clicks somewhere else.

Why?  My weekly Hits and Misses piece might be my fave thing I write for diginomica, it's a chance to get a bit cheeky in the interests of loosening up the enterprise, and, with any luck, puncturing a few hype ballons. Curating enterprise news is a passion I've not been able to shake yet. It's a pleasure to highlight the best finds from my feed scouring. Then I line up a few choke jobs up for the whiffs section.

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