Are You Futured Out?

March 10, 2010

A blog entry on Richard Curtis’ very good E-Reads site struck a strong chord with me today.

Curtis writes:

Until now, most folks returning from the annual (O’Reilly’s) Tools of Change conference have come away inspired and energized as the flint of old thinking met the steel of innovation. But this time publishing industry blogger Don Linn reported symptoms of future weariness. “We are in the midst of a bucketload of ‘Future of Publishing’ conferences and there is an element of conference fatigue setting in,” he writes. “There’s not much new under the sun: In the 2- 1/2 days I was there, I didn’t see or hear anything startling or revolutionary that hasn’t been discussed in other conferences or even at previous TOC’s.”

I did not attend TOC, so of course cannot offer any comments on the event, but I am beginning to suffer a serious case of future fatigue. The media continues its feeding frenzy on every trivial piece of tech news that it can uncover, largely, I believe because it has always perceived publishing in all its forms as the most important subject known to mankind. Earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. Yeah, ok, a few headlines, but what about this: “Google Reaches Books Deal With Italy.” I’ll confess: didn’t even glance at it.

The media appears to subscribe to the lyrics of a song (that I can’t seem to locate on Google). The two key lines go:

“The only thing more interesting than me…
Is me.”

My foolish dream is that the big fat tech companies, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Intel et al., would jointly declare a 12 month moritorium on heavy-duty R&D and marketing expenditures and offer a portion of their billions to tech workers around the world, who would receive, for example, $40k plus cost-of-living expenses, and would commit to working in third-world countries helping to improve infrastructure, sanitation, education, health care, and a long list of other crucial problems. The money would be paid monthly to the workers; if you quit early, that’s the end of it. If you work the full year and if your supervisor rates your efforts at a minimum of 7.5/10, you receive a $8k bonus.

Oh well, enough of my fantasy. Back to reading the endless blogs, Publishers Weekly and The Economist, and thinking about how most publishing technology is only barely managing to improve this world we inhabit.

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The Seybold Report Interviews…Me!

January 4, 2010

The latest issue of The Seybold Report features an interview with me by Heidi Tolliver-Nigro about my Adobe-Omniture acquisition report, Adobe’s Designs on Web Analytics: The Omniture Acquisition. (The link to the report is broken.)

While I do offer a fairly generous excerpt on my site, this interview will give you a lot more detail of the content and thinking behind the report.

What I feel is most salient about Adobe’s move is what a great shift it signals away from the company’s print roots. As I remarked: “Now, when Adobe talks about print, it’s funny because it’s almost in a peripheral way—like whispering about Granny who lives upstairs and we have to sometimes take her out for a walk.” I’ve commented several times before that Adobe has over the last decade or more gone cold then warm then cold, etc. on the issue of print. I think it’s now 100% certain that Adobe management (and Adobe is not alone, and I’m not being critical; just stating the facts) sees print as a modest part of it overall software portfolio, with a diminishing future. The Omniture acquisition has essentially 0% to do with print and 99.9% to do with the Web.

I do however think that Adobe might find some fascinating ways to link Omniture-type technology to variable print-on-demand…it’s a fascinating opportunity that I hope Adobe explores.

In the meantime I weigh in largely favorably on the whole deal. The ROI may be slow in arriving, but I can see now that with the acquistionof Omniture, Adobe has clearly made a bold and brave move.

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Getting Ready for Adobe’s Big Update on Omniture

December 14, 2009

I’m getting excited because tomorrow Adobe is webcasting its 4th quarter and year-end results (it’s all public and you can register here), and, as expected, because the Omniture acquisition closed in the fourth quarter, we should get some initial insights into how the acquisition is progressing. There’s no question that these are VERY early days, so we can’t expect to hear a lot of in-depth detail (no fault to Adobe) but every nugget of info should be closely-examined, because at $1.8 billion, this was Adobe’s second largest acquisition after Macromedia. As readers of this blog well-know, I published a report in October on the purchase (check my home page for the link), so I am now a very keen observer of the outcome. I remain both naturally optimistic and tremendously curious.

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Oddly today Adobe issued a fairly tepid success story from Omniture. The numbers sounds great: 188% of this and 351% of that, but the Omniture customer profiled is a 200-person firm. Is this the message that Adobe wishes to convey? We should know more tomorrow.

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Your insights and observations will be much appreciated after the results and commentary are announced.

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Adobe-Omniture, Part 3

October 1, 2009

What a great week this has been! I set for myself a tough task last Friday — produce a detailed, fair, informed and detailed report on Adobe’s proposed (and, I think, extremely likely to succeed) proposal to buy the web analytics firm Omniture — and publish my report by next Monday.

I’ve received cooperation from all involved, whether vendors, financial analysts, competitors, partners or customers — granting large amounts of time and insightful commentary on what this might mean to them specifically, to the web analytics industry and to Adobe and Omniture and their respective customers.

I’ve now also been the recipient of generous cooperation from some extremely busy high-level executives at both Adobe and Omniture who have done a great job helping me to better understand the value proposition from their perspective and on behalf of their customers (I think/hope I get it now). Many thanks to Janet at Adobe for facilitating this on short notice.

So  we’re on.

My plan is to deliver the report on schedule, but more than that to provide a  freeextra that very few (if any) analysts offer. Buy the report at the $95 (USD) price and register your purchase (the mechanism for doing so will soon be clear, I promise), and in two months you’ll receive a free update to the report that offers clarification on any and all of the quotes or stated facts that I’ve misinterpreted or not-quite-grokked (very important to keep the record clear), but also to provide you with all of the new developments that are certain to occur in those 60 days from the publication’s first appearance.

It’s great fun for me, as I hope the report will be for all of you.

Does information set us free? Let’s see.

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Adobe-Omniture, Part 2

September 29, 2009

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After my first glib reaction to the Adobe-Omniture deal, this past Friday it struck me that the proposed acquisition by Adobe deserves a lot more scrutiny.

So I’ve set myself the task to prepare a detailed in-depth report on the topic and publish it by next Monday.

I’ve collected all of the interesting articles and web posts on the subject, and this week I’m interviewing analysts, customers, competitors, interested observers and the like to try and fill in the rationale.

I do feel that this deal could be a major change in the way companies publish to the web, and hence to the future of publishing. And I’m working very hard with several fine colleagues to test the theory.

As far as I can see I’ll be the first to publish actual interviews with actual customers of the two company’s products. Surely the customers matter most.

I’m also doing an in-depth financial analysis: $1.8 billion is not spare change when buying a company that isn’t making money.

I’ll try to illustrate what the upside is, in concrete terms, and just as clearly, the downside.

I want very much to be fair, and let all voices be heard.

I’ve always admired Adobe, and don’t think that it would spend $1.8 million on a whim. But the value proposition has not been well-arcticulated by Adobe, and I’m having a heck of a time getting them to answer my emails and calls so that I can represent its viewpoint fairly.

To all of my readers: if you’ve got a perspective or insight on the subject, please comment to this entry or email me at thad@thefutureofpublishing.com.

Anyone who does so will receive a free copy of the report that will be priced at $95 (in PDF format, of course).

Over to you…

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