Curated content for content, computing, and digital experience professionsals

Day: July 20, 2007

Emerging Markets: The Brass Ring?

We conducted our occasional poll on most pressing business drivers for providing localized content to customers during our July 11 webinar with Idiom and EMC. (See below for results.) A post-webinar email exchange about the results stimulated a discussion on the business impact of established versus emerging markets (geographic regions in which economies are still developing). How are global companies approaching growth strategies? We set out to look for indicators.

Two of the 12 Megatrends in B2B Marketing indentified by the Economist Intelligence Unit in a recent survey underscore the importance of emerging markets in reaching global executives. From the report:

“The geographic demographics of today will bear little resemblance to those of the next ten years. . . by 2017 China will become the world’s largest economy when growth is measured on purchasing power parity. . . for 2006, [study] sponsoring organizations are targeting Asia and central/eastern Europe more than the Americas and western Europe.”
“…there is a growing belief that the high-flyers of the next decade will arise from the ranks of today’s domestic companies (domcoms) in emerging markets.”

We also looked at the performance of companies reporting quarterly earnings this week. On an interactive Earnings Cheat Sheet available on wsj.com, analysts say that IBM’s expansion in Asia is a positive factor:

“In the first quarter, IBM’s Asia-Pacific revenue rose 10% to $4.5 billion, on growing demand in China and India and a turnaround in Japan. Management said in May that it plans to increase staffing in China by at least 10% in each of the next few years.”

And in commentary on Merrill Lynch’s global reach:

“Merrill’s non-U.S. revenue has been setting the pace and now accounts for more than half of its GMI total. In April, Merrill said it’s taking a $2.9 billion stake in Resona Holdings, the largest foreign investment ever in a Japanese bank.”

One question pertinent to Gilbane readers is the timing of real investment in content technologies that will enable businesses to realize potential in these markets. For what should enterprises plan, and when?

July 11 webinar attendees see other factors as more pressing drivers today. Time-to-market for simultaneous product shipments is the most important, global and product brand management least important.

business drivers

These results are not surprising considering that the topic of the webinar was technical documentation for global markets. Participants were naturally inclined to be more concerned about shipping the documentation with the product and less concerned about brand management.

Search and Need

Since an attempt to parse, in the simplest terms, the “enterprise search” market in January, I have been exposed to no less than 77 products and vendors whose offerings have been brought to my attention. Add to that another 20 or 30 peripheral offerings in the text mining and text analytics sphere and you’ll understand why the need for a focused view when considering products.

Selling and marketing at its best sells to a need. Need expresses something about users, user behaviors, user requirements, and problems to be solved. Need also implies emotions and that may present a problem when it comes to making business decisions.

Nothing plays into emotional business decisions like money, as illustrated by one IT manager’s reaction to this week’s Yahoo News story about Google offering its search appliance for small Web sites for $100 for up to 5,000 pages. Noting that $500/year would support up to 50,000 Web pages, he thought it could be a solution for the company’s intranet. In a tough budget situation it seemed to make sense because the maintenance fee for current search software far exceeds $500.

Let’s be clear, Google is offering site search for a Web site on the World-wide Web, not internal enterprise sites. There is a huge difference in the number of variables to be considered not the least of which are:

  1. Who is authoring and maintaining the target content, and what do they expect to have the search engine do with the tags and content?
  2. Who are the users, what are they looking for, and how do they expect it to be displayed?
  3. What is the software providing in the way of managing and supporting metadata
  4. Where is the software going to run and be maintained?
  5. What are the security and authorization considerations?
  6. What about all the internal content that is not “Web pages” (e.g. PDFs, spreadsheets, slide shows, images) with their associated metadata that may not be supported in this license but are fundamental to an enterprise search solution
  7. What do page ranking and ad management have to do with internal search requirements?

Just to be clear, there are other solutions that may come with levels of Web site search support that are more suited to many small organizations, internal and external. This week I learned more about one such offering, PicoSearch that has options from free to very reasonable monthly charges bundled with service for hosting search for an organization’s content. It can also provide some levels of password protection and security controls. This may not be an optimal choice for organizations with complex and multi-faceted search interfaces but could be perfect for associations, educational institutions, and small businesses with straightforward product lines.

Keep in mind, inexpensive does not mean “cheap” and it is also not the first qualifying criteria for what is “appropriate.”