Published on March 5, 2014
VB Intel Report Taxonomy Each topical area such as marketing automation systems, mobile advertising platforms, CRM, etc. will have its own section of the site. The overall structure of report categories will follow the VB 360º information model: transform (big strategic decisions, software evaluation, vendor selection, new business strategies), operate (changing internal processes, best practices, resource allocation, systems and people management, canned presentations and pitches, tactical choices) and optimize (getting the most out of products, improving usage, leveraging features to improve efficiency, optimization tactics, vendor negotiation strategies, FAQs, integration tips). Additional categories are what we call information nuggets, targeted content like slide presentations, document templates or boilerplate policies and contracts, and e-books, which would be expanded coverage of a particular topic based on bundles of individual reports, but knitted together with other content, editing to tighten the integration and transitions and enhanced searchability. With such a broad range of content type, the length, detail, target audience and price of each will vary as appropriate. For example, how-to material might be very limited in scope,
perhaps similar to FAQs one might find for free on the Net however with added detail and vetted for accuracy. In contrast, big strategic, transformative reports, could entail 30-40 pages or more of heavily researched material targeted to C-level execs of the kind traditional IT analyst shops sell for thousands of dollars. Our goal will be finding a mass market sweet spot to expand the available audience beyond the Fortune 500 clients targeted by Gartner, IDC and Forrester. One might look at VB Intel as the Kindle Store for quality technology contents. Instead of selling short stories and novellas for a few dollars, it's how-tos, short slide presentations and value-added FAQs for $10. Likewise, instead of $50 textbooks, it's broad strategic research for a few hundred, while the bulk of titles, equivalent to the $10-15 range mass market book, go for $99. The following is an outline of report topics in each of five major areas. Note, this list is quite granular and could be condensed for purposes of organizational simplicity and/or Web site navigability. Also, there’s likely more types of reports in each area.
Transformative Reports ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Product or category overview: Comprehensive survey of the market category, associated business problems/processes, industry trends and vendor landscape Executive overview: Cliff's Notes version of the above focusing on business problems, value to be derived from technology, ROI considerations and competitive advantages. Developer overview: Outlines methods various products in the category can be extended, different levels of API support and other application development features. Comprehensive buyer's guide: Rundown of significant product features for a particular category, product differentiators, and major vendors. Segments features into logical categories, target users and roles (IT admins, management, end users, field personnel, etc.) and affected business processes. ○ Segmented buyer's guides: Focused reports for specific target markets (large enterprise, SMB, startup/SOHO) and industries. May only include a subset of the total vendor pool focusing on the product and features most appropriate to a particular vertical, industry or size category. Product and Vendor guide: Similar to a buyer's guide, but focused on a specific vendor and their products; sort of a mini-review. Drills into product features with SWOT analysis/pros and cons and identifies target customers and opportune usage scenarios. Also maps products/vendors onto the VB Intel product segmentation model by rating it on a 1-5 scale across five key criteria: ○ product integration (standalone to suite) ○ platform extensibility/composability ○ product innovation ○ product maturity (emergent to mature) ○ cost/target market (L, M, S) ○ [ todo: develop a clever graphical representation of a product's rating across all criteria. Could be a radar chart, heat map, 3D chart ] Business Strategies: Could encompass a variety of topics including the application of new or hot technologies to different businesses, business processes or to create new products and services. Also could cover the competitive threats and opportunities from disruptive technologies, services, products and new business models. Business scenarios: Similar to strategies, but would focus on the application of new technology, say data driven predictive analytics, to a particular business problem, like customer support, marketing automation, lead generation, etc. or industry/industry segment like small retailers, local or regional service businesses (electrical contractors, graphic designers,
attorneys, etc.), large retailers. These would be industry and possibly size specific planning guides on what to expect in a particular technology segment, how it will affect the business and how to capitalize on the trend. ○ [Note: These might be combined with case studies with business scenarios focusing on strategic material about the broader application of a product or technology and case studies tactical details about specific situations and lessons learned]
Operational Reports ● ● ● ● ● ● Comprehensive product implementation guide: [could also be a bundle of individual guides from the list below. These could be further bundled and expanded into e-books for topics with sufficient interest and customer demand.] ○ Project management guide: Building the project, may include templates that are also sold as 'information nuggets' (below). Could also include a decision tree outlining the pros and cons of DIY implementation versus contracting a VAR or consultant; i.e. when and where to adopt either approach ○ Initial setup and configuration: Step-by-step how-to ○ Ongoing management/system admin processes and best practices: Review of necessary admin and management processes, team structure (for managers), routine care and feeding how-to. Could include separate guides for on-premise vs. SaaS/hosted implementations. ○ Integration guide: Identifies the key systems a product is most likely to interact with, the interfaces that can be used for data and process exchange and the necessary integration steps and tasks. ○ Change management and user support processes: Processes and best practices dealing with end users, developers and business unit stakeholders. [Could be rolled into the ongoing system admin category] Data and application security: Details about security and data protection considerations, including developing DR and business continuity processes, security policies, risk mitigation plans, audit guidelines, etc. Negotiating guides for vendors and service providers: Pre-sales tips; sort of an Edmond's Guide to buying a particular product. Vendor management guides: Post-sales; getting the most out of technical and customer support, SLA guidelines, product maintenance and subscription tips. Data analysis and application metrics: Guidelines and best practices around using data generated and monitoring the application; includes extracting, reporting and analyzing data, along with logging, auditing and monitoring system performance and usage. Resource planning, cost analysis and budgeting: Guides for performing ROI analysis, building project implementation plans and both implementation and operating budgets. May include spreadsheet and project software templates.
Optimization Reports ● ● ● ● ● ● Application development guide: Targeted reports on extending specific products in the category. May cover key APIs, communication protocols, and data standards, and how these can be used, perhaps in conjunction with other platforms, to create custom solutions. Training guides: Sample courseware (slides, videos, course outlines), comparative reviews of training products and service providers. Usage tips: Getting the most out of the product, 'hidden gem' features, cost-saving tips Performance tuning and optimization: Guide to improving product performance, reduce application overhead, improving usage efficiency (getting more for less money). Migration and upgrade guides: Answers the question when to upgrade and when not? Provides information to make upgrades more painless. May include specific migration guides from products A to B, say for example migrating from Microsoft Project to Basecamp, or moving from SharePoint to Huddle. Case Studies: Narratives describing a particular business, group of businesses, or vertical problems they faced, how they addressed them using the relevant technology, lessons learned, successes and failures. Examples could be broad, using marketing automation software to improve online retail sell through, or quite specific, like using using Marketo in a technology startup.
Information Nuggets This category includes content that is either very specific to a task, relatively brief and/or templates that can be used for presentations, reports, checklists, product/vendor scorecards, etc. ● Presentations: Selling the product or concept, training templates ● Spreadsheets: Vendor evaluation checklists, product scorecards and weightings, data analysis report templates ● Documents: Sample contracts, vendor agreements, SLAs, end-user policies
E-Books As an alternative to report bundles, a number of these reports could be combined, perhaps with bonus material, into a more tightly integrated format to provide a comprehensive overview of a particular category or product. These could take cues from things like O'Reilly or 'For Dummies' books; e.g. The Definitive Guide to Marketo, Step-by-step: Planning, Implementing and Using Hubspot, or Web and Mobile Analytics for Dummies. While much of the content might exist separately in various reports, these would add structure and narrative polish to guide readers through a series of topics.
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