This is a really good story because it involves someone with dogged persistence, a willingness to get to the heart of something that most wouldn't and the guy has a good sense of humor also.
Remember that number I referenced the other day (rather blindly as it turns out) from Forrester of a projected market of $74 billion for CRM in 2007? Though skeptical of numbers in general as I mentioned, I didn't particularly question this one. I "read it in the newspapers" (well, online press - TMCNet). I found it in an article written by someone that I hugely respect as a writer, reporter and CRM analyst In fact, one of the best writers in the IT world - David Sims. But, because of my uncritical judgment, that only deepened my mental opacity when it came to the $74 billion figure.
Meaning, as huge as the number seemed to be, I simply accepted it as "real." I assumed that the source, Forrester Group, had released a recent CRM report using this number, operating more like an ISO 9000 compliance auditor than a critical analyst here. "Yeah, well, the number is what Forrester published and, yes, they have a source in which they published it, so therefore it must be viable." After all, this was the time of the season for everyone, including Forrester to stick in their two through ten cents on what 2007 would bring. It all made linear sense. A twisted silly kind of logician was I, n'est ce pas?
Boy, was I wrong - which is what I get for thinking linearly and, momentarily, and uncharacteristically, uncritically.
And luckily a gentleman (though, contradictorily, a BIG Detroit Tigers fan) named Mike Smock wasn't. He wrote me and asked me where I got the number, since I unconsciously (and conveniently I might add) left out the link to the source (nothing like the workings of the unconscious mind. It was my super-ego damn it!). Mike, on the other hand was questioning the number because, I presume, he didn't like the smell (or size) of it. I told him it was this article at TMCNet that I had found the info at and directed him to David Sims.
Before I tell you the rest of the story, let me tell you a little of what I found out about Michael - besides his misguided Tiger fandom.
Mike is a managing partner at a company called Vsente and it is a marketing consultancy (seems to be a partnership between him and a guy in London as the principals) that has a LONG history in the business and a deep well of jobs well done. Mike is a Darwinian marketer of sorts that operates under the stated idea that you wage and win battles for market share competitively and the words/phrases - combat, battles, strategy, tactics, campaign, armory, Sun Tzu, and, of course, the complementary Art of War, etc. are peppered rather liberally throughout the site and the literature on the site. He writes a blog that says something very interesting about how he gets to his competitive outlook and what you find is not just any ordinary warrior with competitive blood dripping from his wounds and mouth, but a warrior who knows how to use reason - something greatly to his credit. Here's the quote based on a rant by Tom Peters:
"Tom Peters was one of those who found the book not to his liking. He rips the book in his blog concluding it was not worth the paper it was printed upon. I don't know if it is jealousy or insecurity that causes him to lash out like this. It is unfortunate because rather than engaging in another one of his exclamation pointed rants, he should be presenting a well reasoned case for why he believes George to be wrong."
Incidentally, the book that Peters rips is Hardball by George Stalk which I haven't read so I have no opinion on it. Also no link since I don't link to books I haven't read.
Mike's idea that a "well reasoned case" is important is also why he pursued the $74 billion as a suspect number. He is a dogged, diligent guy who has a sense of humor and a good, relaxed, voice when he writes. He claims that he disagrees with me on a lot though he likes the blog. I read his "Art of the Attack" e-doc last night and while he won't tell me exactly why he disagrees with me, preferring to tease me along, I think we probably do disagree on a few things judging from what I read. I'd say he barks where I purr at times. Though there is more agreement than he might think. But I don't know that actually. Either way, he is a great guy who I'm glad to have made the acquaintance of in the last 24 hours. Hopefully, it will go longer. He is an admirable and trustworthy man for what he did (and thus, by extension, does).
In any case, to continue the story of Mike Smock and the Errant Numbers
It started with a comment he sent me that read:
"I'm trying to track down the Forrester $74 billion projection.
The only thing I can find is from a 2002 report by Bob Chatham here: http://www.forrester.com/ER/Research/Report/Summary/0,1338,14653,00.html
Do you happen to have the link to the current projection?
Interestingly, if you now go (24 hours later) to the Forrester Group site to find this page, you get the message "I'm sorry, this page no longer exists." Which means that Forrester, who Mike and David contacted, have realized the error of their ways, selling a report from analyst Bob Chatham that was written in 2002 for $499.00 that has what are now inaccurate projections.
After Mike's persistence on the issue found its way to me and David, he went straight to Forrester, who responded:
"Thank you for bringing this to our attention, the reference in the Vendor Guru was not approved for use by Forrester. Please note that Forrester's projections for the CRM market have been updated in the October 2006 report entitled CRM Market Size And Forecast, 2006 To 2010. http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/0,7211,40497,00.html"
The only problem is that when you click on the link, Forrester's forecast number is invisible in their executive summary, buried in the "new" report that you have to buy.I'll be damned if I want to spend money to get another number that will be revised in 2009, after the 2006 forecast was proven to be as inaccurate as 2002's. Although to their credit, instead of $499.00, Forrester is only charging $279.00 for their inaccurate revision this time.
Mike never let go for a minute. He drove this one to completion and as a result, Forrester removed the inaccuracy and I'm telling you that the number was f---- up.
If you want a fantastic report on how this whole thing went down, read David Sim's First Coffee blog/column at TMCNet today. Not so incidentally, I'd put David's First Coffee blog on your list of must reads on a regular basis. In fact, check out my blogroll as of tomorrow (I have to run off to DC now so won't update it yet). I've been reading it for a long while but get lazy about the blogroll which hasn't been updated for about a century. But at least I'm not selling it for $499.00.
So what are the lessons to be learned today from this Forrester fiasco? (I'd REALLY check out David Sim's column today. REALLY)
Be Mike Smock.
But don't root for the Tigers.