Influencers Who Inspire: Enterprise Software Blogger, Michael Krigsman

This week in our “Influencers That Inspire” series, we interviewed Michael Krigsman, who provides us with some great tips on IT security as well as some insight on his personal love of photography.

Michael Krigsman is a recognized, international authority on creating IT project success and related CIO issues.  One of the most respected enterprise software bloggers, he has written about 1000 posts on enterprise software, cloud, CRM, ERP and alignment between IT and lines of business. In addition, he has written thought leadership reports for analyst firm IDC on project portfolio management, CRM, social business, and cloud computing.

Michael has been quoted or mentioned over 500 times in important blogs, newspapers, television, trade publications, presentations, academic dissertations, and other media. He has also been quoted in over a dozen books.

Michael has worked with companies such as SAP, IBM, Lotus, and many others to create consulting tools, methodologies, and implementation strategies related to project and business transformation success. He has presented to Harvard, University College London, Babson College, Boston University, and Suffolk University. Michael frequently attends and speaks at industry conferences and events.

When you wake up in the morning, what do you look forward to the most?

Every day, even before getting out of bed, I try to establish a positive frame of mind. Early morning is the perfect time to set a mental compass for oneself – creating focus and balance as a foundation for the day’s activities. Joyful meditation leads to mental flexibility and concentration, which benefits all spheres of life while helping one desire to be respectful and helpful to others.

What else do you think you would be if you were not  a software industry “influencer”?

My current plans involve engaging more closely with enterprise buyers and users, in addition to continuing my work with vendors and other technology industry players. In the past, I ran a successful consulting business and now, once again, plan to do more work with the folks who actually buy and use enterprise software and services.

What would you cite as the biggest cause of IT failures today?

Accomplishing successful IT projects requires deep collaboration between technologists and business folks: lines of business know the priorities and pains, while IT owns the means for execution. However, these two groups – IT and business – have different constraints and measures of success. Therefore, the single largest problem is communication and collaboration.

However, there are also distorting factors that cause problems. In many situations, we find that politics, agendas, and poor judgment contribute substantially to whatever challenges might be inherent in the IT project situation.

In addition, many IT projects are flawed from the foundation. Failure is inevitable when lines of business do not articulate clear goals and metrics for their technology-enabled initiatives; tossing a half-baked idea to IT and expecting the project to work is a fantasy.

What type of governance issues cause most project failures? Who is most susceptible (large or small enterprise?)

Governance is like change management – painful topics that everybody talks about as being good for you. At the root, governance means figuring out a consistent way to get things done and then sticking to the plan. However, things get more complicated when a project needs the support of folks across a range of departments, functions, organizations, and so on. At that point, successful governance starts to look like a communication and collaboration plan, because governance requires coordination.

Governance is one of those strings that come loose from the ball of yarn – when you pull it, the whole thing starts to unravel. Looked at the through the lens of governance, IT failures can be prevented through a strategic series of decisions and actions. Obviously, however, it’s easier said than done.

As a software industry “influencer” what type of advice do you find yourself giving over and over? What do you wish vendors and industry members knew the most, that would help with prevention?

The most important thing, by far, is establish a relationship that offers value to both sides. When the relationship is intact, there is a lot of flexibility to adapt on both sides. Without a relationship, communications to so-called influencers are just pitches.

Regarding pitches, I suggest PR folks do at least basic research about my areas of focus before calling, emailing, or sending carrier pigeons. I generally respond to thoughtful pitches where the other person makes a reasonable connection and demonstrates genuine interest and knowledge.

One last thing – calling my cell phone repeatedly, especially when I specifically asked you to stop, does neither one of us any good.

You are an active photographer and quite a few people use your pictures as Twitter avatars. What’s your background in that area? Hobby? Passion?

I love photography! The act of capturing a moment in time is a source of endless delight. People do ask to buy my photos but I do it for pleasure. This post explains my interest:

For me, photography is a highly intimate form of expression. I love photography precisely because it’s such a magnificent method to engage with one’s surroundings and communicate feelings, moods, concepts, metaphors, and sensations non-verbally through images.

One of these days I will pursue a gallery exhibition, but there’s no time for that right now.

What’s next for you in 2012?

The industry has reached a point where we can now discuss IT failure more openly; the major enterprise vendors have accepted that customers want greater success with less risk and hassle. It’s now time for the enterprise software industry to help customers realize the value of their technology-backed business initiative. For me, that means focus on innovation and the positive impact of enterprise adoption on operations.

I’m particularly interested in the transformational aspects of cloud, social, and mobile. My work in 2012 is focused on aligning an enterprise line of business goals where technology is the enabler – that means consulting to organizations, working with executive teams, and continuing to advise vendors.

Right now, we are developing cloud transformation workshops and related consulting services, to bring lessons and experience from the past into an absolutely contemporary context.  It’s an exciting time!


Persuasive Picks for week of 12/5/11

Twitter has introduced a whole new look that it hopes will simplify the user experience. Mashable‘s Tom Wasserman reports in Twitter Launches Major Redesign

15-year-old freshman blogger, Susannah Meyer ponders The Social Media Bubble via the Huffington Post


Think About Developing A Social Media Plan says Martin Bishop in his latest post on MediaPost – which provides 10 tips on planning social media programs.

As the social business meme is very much on the rise, Forbes contributor Hadyn Shaughnessy asks readers, Is Social Business the Same as Social Media?


Define Trust. Not So Easy, Is It?

Yesterday I presented at the Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies Conference in Boston, where I was lucky enough to have some great folks attend my session. They asked thought-provoking questions and provided insightful feedback – which is always appreciated. One of my industry friends, Michael Pace, asked me a question at the end of my presentation, and it sparked a longer discussion among some of us after the event.

What is trust?

Michael said that he keeps hearing all the social media “gurus” at conferences like this, SXSW and others, talk about “trust” in their presentations, but no one seems to define it. He has a “three-pronged” idea of trust – which if we’re lucky, he’ll post in the comments here – but no one in the room could agree on one solid definition of trust, and how brands build it. Do people really trust brands? What does that entail? How is it earned, and how is it lost? Michael is focused on customer service and support at work, and thus, it’s a question he ponders on an ongoing basis. The topic definitely made for a lively discussion around branding, marketing, customer service, customer care and social business.

I said that I thought trust was sincere intent followed by consistent, related action. If a brand tells me something, and consistently backs it up, I trust them. It’s not so different from my personal relationships, really. You can make all the promises in the world, and say all the sweetest things, but if your actions don’t reflect your words, I won’t trust you.

Chris Brogan wrote a lot about trust in his book, “Trust Agents.” He uses phrases and words like sincerity, adding value and being truthful in regards to trust. I don’t know if he answers “what is trust” specifically, rather he and his co-author Julien Smith, seem to define its attributes. But what is its definition? Chris, if you’re reading (which would make my day), Michael and I thought you’d be the perfect person to ask … uses words such as reliance, which I thought was interesting, as well as confident expectation.

So what is trust? Is it sincerity? Action? Commitment? Faith? How do you earn it? Better yet, how do you keep it? For something that is so often discussed, so hard to earn, so easy to lose, and really super hard to gain back once you’ve done so, you’d think we’d all have a pretty definitive answer.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject, readers. Thanks, as always, for visiting and commenting.

Journalists are People Too – a Q&A with Jennifer Leggio of ZDNet

Yesterday Michael Arrington of TechCrunch created a big amount of buzz – as he has been know to do – with an angry blog post about the PR industry and its failure to do right by embargoes. This blog post is not about that – but it is our first in a series that we’ve been wanting to start, focused on personal Q&As with journalists, bloggers and industry analysts.

You see, there continues to be quite a snarky relationship between the PR world and the world of journalism. There are valid gripes on both sides but one that continues to be mentioned by journalists is that most PR folks don’t build relationships correctly. So this Q&A series is based on getting to know the journalists as the humans they are. No hidden agendas – just good, clean fun.

Thankfully, Jennifer Leggio, a blogger for ZDNet, agreed to be our first interview. You’ll learn things here that might surprise you or give you pause (favorite vacation spot – Long Island?!) but that will definitely make you laugh.

But we can’t guarantee it will help your pitching.

(Oh – and if you are a journalist or blogger that is game to play along and be interviewed, please let us know!)

PPR: You have  multiple roles listed on your Twitter bio – for ZDNet and Fortinet – what do  you do for each and how do you balance it all?

JL: For ZDNet, I write about what I call “social business” — everything from  enterprise 2.0 technology to marketing-focused social media issues. For Fortinet, my official title is director of strategic communications, which  includes managing global industry analyst relations, digital media, security research communications and community engagement. I’m a pragmatist when it comes to balance. My role at Fortinet is always my first and foremost  priority. It’s not only my day job, but I’m passionate about network security  and I take a great amount of pride in my company’s many wins. Which leaves my ZDNet work largely to my personal time and I am happy to make the sacrifice because it’s such a tremendous opportunity. I’m also a heck of  a multi-tasker.

PPR: How  did you become a blogger?

JL: Ironically, I started microblogging before I began blogging. I was on Twitter and thought,  “I should get one of those blog things.” I launched up my Mediaphyter blog and really started digging into social media trends, security and social media, and then launched the  Security Twits, a community of security professionals on Twitter. After that everything is a bit of a blur. I met Ryan Naraine, a ZDNet security blogger at SOURCE  Boston earlier this year and we became friends; stayed in contact via Twitter. ZDNet saw a need to bring in content similar to what I write and Ryan patched me through. I should note that this all started only a year ago; just goes to show the speed and impact of social media. Take that, naysayers.

PPR: We  see you love hockey – do you watch, play or both?

JL: Oh goodness, I can’t play hockey! I can’t even ice skate! I’m one of those know-it-all fans who sits in the stands and screams at my team. I am very passionate about it,  however. Until about four years ago I had never been a fan of any sport. A  co-worker at the time dragged me to a San Jose Sharks game and I fell in absolute, unequivocal, irreversible love.

PPR: What’s the  last book that you read?

JL: I just  finished “SocialCorp: Social Media Goes Corporate” by Joel Postman, which I actually got as a prize at a Silicon Valley tweet-up last week after co-winning a karaoke contest. The humiliation was  worth winning this book. It was a fabulous, educational read. On a more personal note, I read the entire “Twilight” saga from Stephenie Meyer in five days over Thanksgiving. I am such a sucker for handsome fictional  vampires. I’ve now moved onto the “Uglies” series from Scott Westerfeld, thanks to a recommendation from Kevin Marks.

PPR: What’s the coolest tech gadget that you own?

JL: OK, don’t  tell the folks over at ZDNet this, but I am not much of a gadget geek. I am a cyber nerd, Internet geek, and enterprise technology fangirl. So I suppose my  coolest tech gadget is my TomTom portable GPS. I am considering buying a Kindle, though. Does  that count?

PPR: If  you could meet anyone, who would it be and why?

JL: I know I am supposed to wax intellectual with this type of question, but I can’t get away from my honest answer. James Spader. I have had a crush on him since I was  about 12 years old. Something about geeky, cocky eccentricity. If I were to  wax intellectual, I would say Bob Woodward. Like many former journalists (I  worked at daily newspapers from 1993-2000), he was the reason I began my news career pursuits in the first place. I’ve had to settle for being his Facebook  friend, along with 3,000 other people. That’s closer than I’ve gotten with Spader.

PPR: How  many hours a day do you spend in front of the computer?

JL: Let’s see, I wake up every morning between 5-6 a.m., wash up, get on the laptop and write my ZDNet blog of the day, check into work email, then take a shower, get  ready, feed the cat and head into the office. I usually work through lunch at my desk and leave between 5-6 p.m. Come home, pet the cat, make or order dinner, then get back online and catch up on email, and begin outlining my blog post for the next morning, plus miscellaneous day job work. I go to bed  about 10-11 p.m. and read until I fall asleep. I’m afraid if I really add up  the hours I’ll cry. Not every day is like this, of course. I do make it out  for social events every now and then. If I am not  asleep.

PPR: What’s your favorite vacation destination?

JL: For the last couple of years, most of my vacations have been spent in beautiful Long Island, New York. Ah, paradise. I had the fortunate experience to discover some unknown family members a couple of years ago and I take every opportunity I can to immerse myself into their culture (“Old World” Italian) and learn as much about my heritage as I can. What’s funny to me is that I find it easier to relax there than say if I were on a beach somewhere, wishing my BlackBerry were nearby. My family’s quality of life and appreciation for quality time is contagious when I’m around it, and I love the disconnection from chaos  that I experience when I am there.

PPR: What do you  do for fun?

JL: See questions #3,  #4 and #8. Other than reading, hockey games and blogging, I play Wii (wait, is  that a tech gadget?), I like to go wander about trails in the Bay Area with  friends, I play every two weeks or so in a No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em poker tourney, I’m a huge music fan and I like to go out and see live shows (mostly of the rock persuasion) and I get my laughs at the Improv. That’s about all I have time for right now. In 2009 I hope to bring back some of my other hobbies. Especially those of the outdoor, active variety.

PPR: What’s the coolest thing that’s come your way as a result of  social media?

JL: Besides this interview? I’m fortunate in that it’s hard to pick just one. My ZDNet blog, for one. I never thought I’d again have a chance to write for a news organization after jumping the fence into marketing eight years ago. Book authorship-lite, is another. Julio  Ojeda-Zapata asked me to write the foreword for his “Twitter Means Business” book, and I’m currently writing a chapter for Tracy Tuten’s “Enterprise 2.0” book series due out in 2009. Top that all off with the icing of fabulously talented new friends I wouldn’t have otherwise met. I shudder to think where I’d be without social media. Is that sad? Nah. I think it’s spectacular.