Software is magic

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” 
– Henry Ford 

Hi Everyone, 
Well, we’re a few weeks into the shelter-in-place orders around the country. I know many of us are getting a bit stir crazy and absorbing all the challenges of working at home, I just want to say thank you. I’ve seen so much energy, enthusiasm, and most importantly, patience across the company. It’s really a testimony to each of you and the character and caliber of the employees of Tahzoo! I am humbled by our esprit de corps. 

I hope you enjoyed my presentation on selling SDL Blue Printing today, it is a game-changer and has the potential to unlock so much value for our clients. If you couldn’t attend the meeting this morning, I strongly encourage you to listen to my presentation, Tom has it posted on Teams. It’s so important that we explain the value proposition of the solutions we provide in business terms so that we can get to the heart of what is troubling our clients. Good consulting is like detective work, we must illuminate the possibilities so that we can discover the challenges and then provide solutions. Bill Gates used to say “software is magic”, and it is because it makes so many things possible. We need to use the art of the possible as a discovery tool, and the features and functions of software are a great way to get those conversations started. 
Thank you again for being such good teammates and colleagues to one another, it’s heartwarming to me to see how well you’re taking care of each other. Hopefully, we only have a few more weeks of this new normal. As I say on the calls, if you need to chat or want to blow off some steam I am always available, call me any time. 

What We Can Learn About Content From Fidel Castro

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement” -Helen Keller 

Next week, I will be Keynoting the SDL Connect conference in Santa Clara. I will be speaking about Language as the third pillar of data required to create and deliver personalized customer experiences. We are expecting a large audience with representation from many Fortune 500 companies. SDL will be making several significant product announcements at the event and I’ll be setting up Adolfo, SDL’s CEO to make some bold claims about the technical advancements made within their platform. The most significant of which will be the inclusion of Artificial Intelligence within their Machine Translation products.  

My speech will focus primarily on the advancements made around understanding content as data and specifically how through the war on terror, the intelligence community developed tools for understanding content and communication that will soon be introduced into the commercial market place. As I was conducting research for the speech, I came across an analysis of speech patterns conducted by research organizations that I want to share with you.  
The government had been recording and collecting all of the communication by Fidel Castro leading up to and after the Cuban missile crisis in October of 1962. As I mentioned last week there are many techniques to better understand content; how it belies intent, a deeper understanding of the meaning, and a glimpse into the efficacy of interaction models. This particular report focused on Castro’s speech pattern after the crisis was resolved. The results indicated that after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Castro’s speeches had a simpler syntactic structure, more embodied words, and less negative expressions. It makes sense that after the removal of Soviet protection, Castro was demurred and his style, tone, and tenor changed.  
The tool used to conduct this analysis is called the Coh-Metrix. It is an automated linguistic analysis tool that analyzes text on measures of cohesion, syntax, readability, and other characteristics of language and discourse.  
Coh-Metrix is sensitive to a wide range of linguistic/discourse features that reflect multiple levels of text complexity and has five orthogonal dimensions:  

  1. Narrativity. Narrative text tells a story, with characters, events, and is closely affiliated with everyday oral conversation.  
  1. Syntactic ease. Sentences with fewer words and simple, less embedded, syntactic structures are easier to process and understand.  
  1. Word concreteness. Concrete words evoke mental images and are more meaningful to the reader than abstract words.  
  1. Referential cohesion. High cohesion text contains explicit words and ideas that overlap across sentences and the entire text  
  1. Deep cohesion. The extent to which the ideas in the text are connected with causal or intentional connectives at the deeper situation model level.  

The graph above is a result of the analysis of Castro’s speeches and an example of how we can use machine learning to ingest large amounts of content, then provide our clients information on how they are communicating with their customers. Furthermore; those same techniques can be applied to social media with responses to a brand, to customer satisfaction surveys and rating/review content. We can create a closed-loop understanding of how a brand and its customer are interacting with one another. 
Over time, combined with customer profile data, analytics, and behavioral data we will leverage this deeper understanding of the content to tailor experiences that exactly meets the customers’ expectations and needs, but most importantly deliver the experience in language, tone, and familiarity you would expect when talking to a good friend.  
Let’s go be great! 


Cinematic Design

We just wrapped up a day of video shooting for the new Tahzoo website and internal training. By all accounts, it was a very well-orchestrated and produced event, special thanks to Don Low and Bryan Fitch. It seemed a fitting conclusion to the week and in advance of my Desk of Brad this week, as I am writing about Cinematic Design. Our Experience Design Practice is grounded in a cinematic approach. It’s an approach that is unique to Tahzoo and separates us from all of the design firms that we compete with on a regular basis.

I am sure you’re asking, ‘What is Cinematic Design?’. It’s a philosophy, a methodology, and a series of techniques to guide the consumption of content. Just as a great movie director frames a shot so that you know where to look when you’re watching the movie, the cinematic design is about shaping the navigation and presentation of content so that you automatically know what to do. It’s about ‘less is more’, it’s about centering your eye on the content, and making the next step in the process obvious. It’s thinking more about the personalized experience and less about making every option available.

In contrast to the current approach to UX in which every navigational choice is made possible, the cinematic design is about creating individual journeys through content, applying contextual awareness, and the form factor in mind. Think of it as curated navigation – storytelling in a visual context. When the page opens, or the application loads on your phone, where should your eye go first? How will you know what to do next?

There is a great book called “The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman. It’s a fantastic read on how great design is not only aesthetically pleasing but it also informs you about how to operate a device. Think of the fixtures in a shower – it should look great, but you should also be able to easily figure out how to create the right temperature. As someone who has stayed in a lot of different hotels, there is nothing more frustrating than having to figure out how to make the shower work. A website is no different – the design and the operation of the site should be elegant.

In our case, we are tailoring an experience for each person. With dynamic navigation and menuing, cinematic design becomes even more important. We have to create ways of exploring content that are particularly pleasing and relevant. Many of the concepts developed over the last hundred years of filmmaking apply rather nicely to the design approach.

There’s a great video entitled, “David Fincher Hijacks Your Eyes”. Please take a moment to watch the video… You’ll really enjoy it and in turn, hopefully, have a better understanding of why some filmmakers give you the feeling of being in the scene and not just a spectator of the big screen – watch it here. Our approach to Cinematic design follows similar precepts; we create immersive digital experiences through visual storytelling. Even if you’re just on the site to order coffee, you should feel in the moment as the story and the experience is personally directed towards you. Over the next few weeks, Don and Bryan will be presenting our approach in more detail.

Let’s go be great!


“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.” – Margaret Thatcher 

Hi Everyone, 
We launched our first Software as a Service (SaaS) product! MarketerCX is a fully implemented version of our Enterprise Marketing Platform, pre-configured to meet the needs of marketers wanting to launch campaigns, manage assets, and deliver personalized experiences. The idea being, that we can help a client quickly execute campaigns and deliver a personalized experience. 

The platform includes Marketing Resource Management (MRM), Marketing Automation (Email Marketing), Digital Asset Management (DAM), Analytics, and reporting. We will be adding to the platform over the coming months to include the MarkLogic product for a 360 view of the customer and ERSI for spatial data analysis. 
We are addressing department needs with this offering. We see this as a beachhead into Fortune 500 clients which we can grow into full enterprise implementations over time. It provides us an opportunity to demonstrate the value of an integrated platform and Tahzoo’s ability to drive personalized experiences. 
We will be teaming with Microsoft and Aprimo to take this product to market. We already have a small pipeline of customers who are interested in the product. I am excited about this new offering and I want to give a big shout out to Don Low, Bryan Fitch, and John Kottcamp for pulling the marketing together. 
On a side note, have a great 4th of July! 

Digital Asset Management or a CMS

“Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Pablo Picasso 

Most content management systems are designed to manage websites and web pages, not content. The reason we bet the company on SDL Tridion is that it was a component-based approach for delivering a web experience and it had a decoupled architecture, ensuring that it would be scalable. Really, when you look at the underlying premise of SDL Tridion, it’s an XML publishing engine. The genius behind this approach now – and 20 years since it was first developed – is that customer experience isn’t just delivered on websites anymore. 
Over the last 10 years, software vendors have been pushing CMS’ as content management solutions, which clearly, they are not… like I said earlier, they are website management tools. Hence the rise in Digital Asset Management solutions in the last few years. As we move to unified customer experience across many channels of interaction, creating, curating, and publishing the content becomes the central concern. 
Companies have now spent the better part of the last decade trying to solve these and other marketing-related problems with their CMS vendor of choice. We are now seeing the effects of failed implementations or situations in which the software company over-promised the capability of the software. Clients are looking to Tahzoo to provide a solution to this situation. I hope you’ve all seen the Tahzoo Content Hub slides, it’s the integration of the CMS for publishing, the DAM for managing content, the PIM for managing product information all tied to an e-commerce scenario or a personalization engine. 
So, what does this mean for Tahzoo? The CMS marketing is declining and quickly, the refresh cycle for these systems is extending from 3 to 5 years out to 5 to 7 years. The DAM market will be exploding over the next couple of years. Most of our clients do not have a rationalized approach to asset management and certainly have don’t have a reference architecture for implementing a content hub. We are extremely well-positioned to take advantage of the changing marketplace. Our partnerships SDL, ADAM, and Aprimo align us with market-leading software products that are going to lead this next iteration of the enterprise marketing platform. 
So, what does this mean for each of you? New technologies to master, new paradigms to learn, and a focus on becoming a better consultant. Everyone needs to concern themselves with being billable, and the best way to do that is to be skilled in multiple technologies. We are going to invest in a lot of training over the next couple of years to ensure we are riding the top of the wave. Kevin and his team are working on a technical reference architecture that we can leverage to deliver on our brand promise to help our clients deliver contextually appropriate and personalized experiences at scale.   
Let’s go be great, 

Partner News

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas A. Edison 

I have been traveling this week meeting with Partners and Customers. I was particularly excited about my meeting with Aprimo and IBM. As part of the 2017 strategic planning, I am narrowing our solution and partner focus so we can provide a high level of service and quality to our customers and more robust training to our staff. 
Aprimo has just been purchased from Teradata and the new company has the traditional MRM and campaign tools we’re all familiar with, however, they’ve added a product called Revenue which is a tool for channel management and campaign execution. This tool will be particularly useful in B to B to C scenarios, such as with financial advisor relationships or car manufactures with their car dealerships. Combined with our approach around the Content Hub this could be a powerful addition to our content strategy. We are in a good position to drive a productive and fruitful partnership in the coming years. 
Secondly, I was invited to attend the IBM Watson conference on cognitive computing. What a tremendous event, I was so impressed with the product suites and positing. An old friend of mine is running the IBM marketing cloud business, she introduced us to a number of influential product management leaders. Many of the tools in the Marketing cloud will fit nicely into our managed services offering, especially when we expand beyond ILM and ALM to include marketing production services. We are definitely ramping up our partnership with IBM. They have the right customers for us with the right level of access to help us more quickly achieve our top 25 account strategy.  
Let’s go be great, 

The Enterprise Marketing Platform

According to Forbes Magazine, Chief Marketing Officers will spend $32.8 Billion on marketing technology by 2018, reaching a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4%.  From 2014 to 2018, marketing technology spending will reach $130B for the 5-year period. 

While I was Microsoft, I saw several big technology waves, the rise of personal computing, the advent of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and of course the .net vs. java development wars to name a few. In each of those waves, technology was being applied to a specific dimension of a business model. For example, in the ERP wave, we saw the consolidation of a number of discrete systems into a single holistic software platform. Think SAP, PeopleSoft, and Oracle financials as examples… Companies had invested in a variety of software systems to manage Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable and General Ledgers, those systems were not integrated and didn’t easily work together. The “integration” was done with spreadsheets and human intervention. So, the large software companies put together Suites that met the needs of the finance departments. 

Flash forward 20+ years, the explosion of computing power, social media, and the wide variety of hardware platforms has marketers struggling with how to keep up with changing customer expectations. Marketers are spending money on technology for sure… but they lack a consolidated platform, similar to the ERP wave. As many of you have seen many customers choose industry-leading software, not often considering the benefits of thoughtful and well-articulated application architecture. This happens for many reasons, but principally in large enterprises, there are different marketing teams for each channel, and they all have their own budgets. 

The practical challenge of this approach is that it makes it nearly impossible to deliver a consistent and coherent experience to customers across different channels. In one system you may be a valued customer and in another, you may be unrecognized as a customer at all. I recently had a meeting with one of our clients and I complained that I was receiving email solicitations to open an account in spite of the fact that my personal accounts are already with this client. As you would expect they explained that there were different teams and different systems. A silly and expensive problem to be perpetuating to a “valuable customer”. 

John Kottcamp and I began discussing this problem many years ago. It started with the idea of closed-loop marketing where a customer would be understood across all the software systems. Over time we have continued to evolve our thinking and strategy for building what we call the Enterprise Marketing Platform. John can correct me, but this must be the 15th version of this “Markitecture”. Take some time to review the attached slide deck and familiarize yourself with the concepts and strategy. One of the keys to Tahzoo’s success is our ability to assist our clients in designing and building integrated marketing platforms based on best of breed choices in each category. We are still many years away from an ERP like software solution for Marketers, my guess is at least 5 to 7 years, in the meantime, there is plenty of work to do assisting our clients.  

Tahzoo will be the thought leaders on how to implement and leverage an integrated platform to deliver personalized and contextually relevant experiences. As you think about your clients and how Tahzoo can assist them, this is an important area for us to start the dialogue. We have the technical expertise and the engineering rigor to tackle the needs of the Fortune 500. If you think your client would be interested in a thoughtful conversation on the future of marketing technology, reach out to John, David Sterenberg, or me… we love talking to clients. In the meantime, John is going to continue to drive this dialogue within the company, there are a series of webinars in the works. Please feel free to contribute your thoughts and ideas. 

Let’s go be great!


Software eating the world

I shared this great article about coding with the rest of the leadership team this week and wanted to also share it with you. I liked how this article speaks about how “the systems coders built are used to manage the global economic infrastructure. Not bad for six or seven decades—but keep it in perspective. Software may be eating the world, but the world was previously eaten by other things, too: the rise of the telephone system, the spread of electricity, and the absolute domination of the automobile. It’s miraculous that we have mobile phones, but it’s equally miraculous that we can charge them. If coders don’t run the world, they run the things that run the world.” 

I often speak about the incredible processing speed that surrounds us today and the amount of data we have at our disposal. Those two things colliding create massive disruption in the marketplace. It’s been a constant evolution with technology at the helm – no longer the need for travel agents because consumers have all that data at their fingertips, for example.  This article is not a quick read, but I do encourage you all to check it out…and if you do read all 38,000 words, you will get a certificate at the end! I welcome you to send me your thoughts on this. 

Go to market chaos

Team Tahzoo, 

Another week in one place, well kinda. I headed up to New York to join Derick PriceGabi Macy, Matthias Vanhollebeke, and Chad Van Lier at the aDAM SYNC! Event on Wednesday. I was able to meet folks from aDAM and see first-hand what a great partner they are for us. As a silver sponsor we were able to present our vision for leveraging DAM for the management and distribution of content to improve the customer experience.  We received a front stage spotlight where Derick gave a presentation on how to Avoid Go to Market Chaos (I just stood on stage while Derick did all the work). We received a lot of positive feedback from an engaged 120+ person audience.