It’s an annual tradition. We navel gaze. Every December.

It’s as predictable as the tides.

So, let’s talk 2012.

A Forrester author, Joe Stanhope, asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I replied, ‘doing something meaningful’, or something to that effect. I meant it.

Let’s consider something really meaningful that’s happening right now.

Joe painted a picture of accelerating medium fragmentation and bloatware trying to keep up. Indeed, I’m encountering more analysts gathering the pitchforks against the new-new media.

After all, if we can’t even do x right, what business do they have to even attempt y?

Because it’s there.

It’s never been a better time to be a marketing scientist or an analyst. It’s never been a better time to experiment. To run tests. To run them lean. And to peer into some of the most violent datasets and questions. It ought to be refreshing.

Convenient reasoning, focused against building business cases for the new-new media, will get analysts nowhere. If the old reporting has to be cut back so the new-new media can be explored, then so be it. Apply scientific principles to your own work and optimize. Razzle dazzle’em. *click* *click*.

Adapt, in 2012, or be consigned to the dustbin. Lack of a business case hasn’t prevented any marketer from ever experimenting. And, with Europe on the brink and strife at home and abroad, never before has bold ideas and bold experiments been so necessary. Shrinking marketing budgets mandate broader experimentation.

How are we going to get out of this mess? By spending more on radio? Really? Is radio really the answer? (I’m poking fun at the one radio analyst I know. He agrees with me.)

So, don’t sound like the radio analyst in 1992 with respect to the Internet. The economy sucked then too. And we came out booming. Sound progressive in 2012 with respect to whatever it is that’s emerging, and win the decade.

Resist and lose the decade.

That’s pretty much the choice.

Look at that fragmentation, would you? We got social. We got mobile. We got social apps. We got angry birds and in-game commerce. We’re growing enough crops on Farmville to feed the whole of North Korea, nine times over. We got virtual reality and virtual payments. We got apps on DVR’s. We got portable tablets with angry birds. We got netflix on your XBOX. Did I mention XBOX? We got XBOX! We got social apps on mobile. We got timeline coming up (you better get on that). We have an emerging Internet of Things (IoT) that promises to illuminate us all. The trend is more data in more places.

And consider the changes in usability. We’re inventing new concepts quickly. The pinch. The three point touch. The swipe. Even the notion of the Newsfeed is relatively recent. What happens when we can engage with objects virtually? What happens when things become usable in a digital sense?

Who’s going to grapple with it?

The BI guys? Really? They’re still working on integrating data from my Intellivision into their datamart. And they’re trying. They’re really, really trying. But no. You can’t rely on them for help.

New analysts? Maybe. The great fifth wave of analytical talent – those that got their start in 2008 – are so rare. The great recession has done more to wipe out the present crop of analysts who should be hitting their 4th year stride than anything else could. Directors and VP’s of analytics will pay dearly in 2012 for the devastation that 2008 caused. And let’s face it, there’s a solid 9 month ramp, even under the best of circumstances, to get a new analyst walking on both feet. On the positive side, if you instill a positive attitude about medium fragmentation and experimentation, you have the chance to set them up for success in a big way. But no. You can’t rely on them to save you.

It’s you. You’re going to have to grapple with it. You’re the one who knows what a cookie used to be. And what a gesture is. And you’re probably one of the few people that understands how all these other channels fit together – like the email program with the SEM program with the website program with the old mobile program. And each channel has a strategist. And they’re all fighting for fewer dollars and less attention.

But not you. Who are you fighting with? With the marketer that wants to try a social app? Why? Is that really worth your energy?

My hope for 2012 is for Europe to pull through it. I’d like to avoid a second major recession and the nervous stuff that goes with it.

My hope is also for action.

My hope is that we’ll go from viewing data as a tool for explaining the past and destroying business cases to using data to actively make change better, and make better changes.

We can start really mattering.

I’m going to stand off my soap box now, and ask you – what do you think? Am I pretty preachy about fragmentation? Am I right about the dire consequences of getting in the way? LMK what you think.