This post briefly summarizes four threads of thought and a conclusion around problem orientation.
I read “Evaluation of Internet Advertising Research” by Juran Kim and Sally J. McMillan. It’s effectively a social graph exercise. The findings themselves are interesting (and you can read about that through the Web Analytics Association once I publish the review), but this reference to “invisible colleges” was especially fascinating – just coming off of the SLAB Karen Stevenson talk at OCAD. Kim and McMillan make the point that visualizing bibliographic graphs (a social graph) is useful for uncovering these colleges.
The second thread has to do with “The Market Valuation of Internet Channel Additions”, by Geyskesn, Gielens and Dekimpe. In it, they construct a model to judge whether or not a company should create an Internet channel – and use newspapers as the case study. Given all the thought that has circulated around content and monetization. It got me into really thinking about how the same flattening forces that makes it possible to do great things, also has the power to destroy content. Flattening can be creatively destructive too. Out of negative externalities comes problems needing to be solved.
The third thread has to do with Jim Novo and the Drilling Down Project. The thesis that RFM can be done with no more than a spreadsheet and it’s scallable downwards for small businesses, is compelling. It’s taking makerting analytics away from the data mining domain and down to a micro-level. The technology has certainly flattened. And this opens up an entire world that is so exciting analytically – with applications for marketing science, revenue projection, and, when combined with the principles of Mason, lumped with web analytics – you get Novo-Mason WARFM. There’s incredible power in there.
The fourth thread has to do with extreme customer centricity and some of the material that Maciek Adwent has been emailing my way. A good synthesis of much of that material is: “from small things grows big things”, and a derivative of the Matt Milan life/work balance thesis. This thread actually matches well with the whole “Crossing the Chasm” book, which is an original root artifact of extreme customer centricity. There’s a lot in there, and much of it is transparent with some of the cross-blog talk.
If we’re going to take the customer centricity thesis to it’s extreme, then we have to consider their networks. If web analytists and marketing scientists can’t communicate what they do quickly and understandably, and the problems they solve, in a nugget – in a sound byte, then how will potential customers ever know what we do? Moreover, why would they ever want to talk about us? How can you use the power of networks and word of mouth if you don’t have the bear minimum requirement: repeatable duckspeak words?
It kills me to say it, but I think we have to be more problem-oriented in our communications than solutions-oriented. We need to be incredibly specific about the problem that we’re solving.
It’s far easier to talk about a problem that you’re wanting to solve, especially in an economy that is generating so many new problems to solve.
I think a solutions-orientation is essential. The mark of a great analyst when confronted with a problem is to see several solutions (at minimum) and, at maximum, to recognize when they’re looking at a wicked problem. But I think we need to keep more of the solutions-orientation to ourselves when we’re communicating what we do.
Taken from this point of view – you wouldn’t use the word ‘Novo RFM’ to describe what it is that you do. You determine the one problem that RFM can really solve really well, the bigger the problem, the more important it is. The more marketable the solution. There’s also other interesting problem spaces to be explored. For instance, the problem of online content monetization is a screaming problem – and I think that Novo-Mason WARFM might actually offer an incredible solution. If the term Novo-Mason WARFM puts you to sleep – you’re not an analyst (and welcome to my blog!). It’s a solution set that has been screaming for a really big, juicy, problem to solve. It makes more sense to talk to people about the nature of the problem and briefly mention the solution. And let curiosity run its course.
That’s where I’m at now. I’m at customer centered problem sets.