The Marketing Technology Snow Cone

I have been working with marketing technology for the past 5 years. There’s a dizzying array of technologies,  plenty of overlap, and a lot of vague and confusing terminology.  To navigate and create a road map for the future at my work, I’ve created a simple visualization to depict these technologies.

I started with a simple marketing funnel, but after I arranged everything and stepped back from my diagram, I realized it looked like a snow cone :)  If I had better drawing skills this would be a 3D cone, rotating so you could see delivery on one side and measurement on another, but alas, I am not so skilled, so we’ll have to go with two parallel cones.

At the end of the day, Marketing is a funnel to Sales. Even Brand Marketing can be viewed this way, as it serves to widen the funnel.  The funnel has 3 general layers:  brand as well as product and service Awareness, deeper customer Knowledge of one’s products, then Consideration. Ultimately, all of these leading down to a Lead or a sale. Some customers go straight to a sale without passing through these layers as defined by the company’s Marketing path, but in one way or the other they do proceed through these natural steps.

Feeding into the overall funnel are three kinds of sweet syrup (ummm, customers): the Anonymous Masses; identified, Known Prospects (usually known target names in a b2b context); and our Current Customers, to whom we pitch retention as well as cross-selling & up-selling opportunities. The funnel is cinched up with a Digital Delivery “Wrapper” (depicted here as a belt at the top of the funnel, but in reality for most channels it extends all the way down through the funnel).

The Delivery funnel has a parallel Measurement funnel of analytics tools and approaches.

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Percent Complete is a Lie

I’m sure you’ve been there – you’re sitting in a project status meeting, and a manager is going around the room asking for updates on all the assigned tasks: “is this task complete?  No, then what % complete is it?”,  or “this task was at 50% complete last week, what % would you say it is today?”

No, just no.  Percent Complete is a Lie.  A complete lie. It gives everyone in the meeting a false sense of progress, masks potential risks, and ultimately leads to schedule slippages.  A task has been stalled at 80% for 3 weeks now, finally it’s starting to become a critical path issue – oh but we still have another week, that 20% can be completed in a week, right?  Well, no – it’s the Pareto Principle coming to bite you – turns out the reason it was stalled was that “20%” was the developers staring down an intractable problem with error handling, or were hopefully optimistic that some buggy library they were depending on would be fixed in the next release before they really had to use it.  Or they were banging their head on the desk over an IE 8 incompatibility issue.  You never know – the problems were all masked because you kept asking for “your % complete, please”

This problem is endemic to software development, but is likely an issue in other fields as well.  Creative process are not baking and creative employees are not ovens …

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Indonesia … and a “million dollars of problems”

(see also, Jakarta Contrasts)

Many folks have asked me, “how did you get to work in Indonesia?”  Well, it was a small chain of events.  I was doing Lotus Notes development work at the time, and Lotus Consulting partnered with my small firm (they were very keen on their partner network) to do several small applications.   One of their managers asked if I could work on a project in New York.  Turns out it was a “troubled project”, a highly visible project that wasn’t going well, and they were at risk of losing the whole contract.  The client was Ernst & Young.

As one of the Big Six professional services firm, E&Y was a high stress environment.  This project was for some internal knowledge tools,  development was mostly complete, but E&Y was not happy with the results.  When I arrived, tension was clearly in the air, but I ignored it.  I simply concentrated on what that they weren’t happy about.  As a newcomer, I could ignore the internal politics, the past conflicts, the personality clashes, whatever – I just asked, “so, specifically why are you not happy?”.  Unsatisfied with vague complaints and accusations,  I pressed to be specific in their grievances, with a focus on the software application we were delivering to them.

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About Us

Agoric Source, LLC is a Houston-based boutique software development firm.  We are somewhat on hiatus, as the principal, Kevin Lacobie, is exploring a career in the corporate world.

Agoric Source was created in 2002, and is the 3rd firm co-founded by Kevin Lacobie, the first being Agoric Enterprises, Inc., 1993, in Fairfax, Virginia, and Agorics, Inc., 1995, in Los Altos, California.  Kevin Lacobie has 30+ years experience in the software and IT industry, and with an advanced degree in Economics (MA, George Mason, 1991), brings a unique perspective to the software engineering discipline.

Coders like to code, code, code; software designers like to design elegantly and cleanly; software engineers like to weigh the broader economic tradeoffs between different technical solutions and their use in practical business environments. Software engineering explores tradeoffs between current code and future, maintainable code, and between automation and human processes.  This blog will share insights about all these issues, from Kevin’s perspective of theory and much industry experience.