• September 1, 2009
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

The 2009 Influential Leaders - The Strategist

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It's tough enough to play by the rules when they keep changing on you. Now imagine trying to work by them. Difficult, sure-but Jeremiah Owyang, senior analyst at Forrester Research, is holding his own, and he'll be the  first to admit when he's made a wrong move.

"He's constantly thinking about what he can do, how he can help," says Charlene Li, an independent consultant at The Altimeter Group, a former Forrester colleague, and one of our Influential Leader Emeriti. "He paints pictures so that people can understand very complex issues."

Owyang is an expert on the myriad solutions and strategies in the marketing landscape and he communicates his findings to an audience he truly cares about-those buying these technologies and making mission-critical decisions for their businesses. His blog, Web Strategy (at the not-quite-the-same-name www.web-strategist.com/blog), is recognized as a destination for thought-provoking insight and critiques, which have sparked fervent, even controversial, discussions.

"Jeremiah was one of the first people I followed on Twitter," says Aaron Strout, chief marketing officer of social-platform provider Powered. The content Owyang puts out, he adds, "has one of the highest signal-to-noise ratios," making it easy to count on him for quality and relevance.

Brian Watkins, public relations and social media strategist at Omniture, says that, for many, the challenge is figuring out how to use social media as a marketing channel. Owyang, he says, is aiding this effort with "experience and actionable recommendations backed by research and real-world proof points."

Owyang knows the growth and change inherent in social media leads to a fundamental vulnerability in his own work. His June 1 blog post was a direct solicitation for improvement, and opens with a line that articulates why most companies are so reluctant to do the same: "This is the hardest post to write, but perhaps the most important."

"He talks about the idea of having a dialogue, how to be real and transparent-and he practices all of those things," Li says. He acknowledges when he's made an error and is ready to ask for more information. Li, a pundit in the social space herself, sees this as a rarity. "This is somebody who absolutely lives and breathes by the community he serves," she says.

As companies in every industry begin to follow suit, there's little doubt that Owyang has earned the Influential Leader mantle.

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