Will Fusion Be In Your Oracle Applications Road Map?

Duncan Jones

Vendor managers in companies with Oracle applications may have heard a lot of talk about its next-generation applications over the last five years. Well, the news from Oracle’s customer event in San Francisco is that Fusion is almost here. Oracle is extensively demonstrating the product here at the event, early adopter customers are already in the implementation process, and Oracle intends to generally release it in the first quarter of next year.

http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/press/173456

Oracle hasn’t announced final pricing yet, but Steve Miranda, SVP of Oracle Application Development, confirmed that customers on maintenance will get a 1:1 exchange when they swap the product they own now for the Fusion equivalent. That is good news, although to be fair, my Oracle contacts had indicated this, off the record, all along.

The packaging into SKUs will mimic that of the current product set, to make the swap easier. I.e., the price list for HR will look like the PeopleSoft price list, CRM like Siebel, and so on. That makes some sense, but I wish Oracle had taken the opportunity to simplify the pricing so that there are fewer SKUs. For instance, Siebel's price list is over 20 pages long, and there's no clear link between the the items in the price list and the functionality you want to use. As a result, some customers buy modules by mistake, while others fail to buy ones they really need. Hopefully Fusion will provide a clearer audit trail between functionality and SKU.

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The Continuing Globalization Of Online Retail

Zia Daniell Wigder

The past couple of months have seen a number of new initiatives and shifts on the global online retail front: Zara went live with a series of eCommerce sites (in five languages in Spain alone) while Gap started selling to an international online audience. At the same time, eBay conceded the market in China and looked to partner with market leader Alibaba. More companies have started coming to us asking about eCommerce in less traditional markets, with markets like Russia and Saudi Arabia being brought up with increasing frequency in our calls with clients.

We’ve recently published some research that helps companies sort through different international online markets: our Global Online Population Forecast looks at how the online population is shifting around the globe while A Snapshot Of Emerging Mobile Commerce In China puts the growth of mCommerce in China in perspective with its regional neighbors. Establishing A Global Online Retail Footprint looks at where US online retailers have expanded internationally and what factors they should consider as they decide which new markets to target. A few takeaways from recent research:

  • The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will add more than 300 million new Internet users over the next five years; one-third of all Internet users will live in these countries by 2014.
  • North America’s share of the global online population will decline from 16% to just 13% by 2014. By contrast, Asia’s will increase to 44% of the total.
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Ease Of Use Is Now “A Federal Case” For Mortgage Paperwork

Harley Manning

When I was kid, when we thought someone was overreacting, we used to say “don’t make a Federal case out of it!” Maybe people still say this, but I haven’t heard it in a while. I suspect that it went into the Museum of Way-Historical Sayings. Still, I’m sure you get the idea: If the Federal Government is involved, it’s a big deal.

I thought of this expression this morning when I read an article in The Wall Street Journal. There is quite a battle going on over an attempt to make mortgage-disclosure documents easier to understand. On the one side, we find our Federal Government in the persons of Elizabeth Warren and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. On the other side, you find the mortgage industry (or at least a big chunk of it — the article could have offered some more details IMHO).

Now if you’ve ever taken out a mortgage, you know that the documentation you received was close to the polar opposite of “easy to understand.” You may have thought (as I did) that the difficulty stemmed from a failed attempt by lawyers and bankers to communicate effectively. But apparently not! (Or at least that’s not the only reason — I’m pretty sure that most lawyers don’t have John Grisham potential).

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Little Servers For Big Applications At Intel Developer Forum

Richard Fichera

I attended Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco last week, one of the premier events for anyone interested in microprocessors, system technology, and of course, Intel itself. Among the many wonders on display, including high-end servers, desktops and laptops, and presentations related to everything Cloud, my attention was caught by a pair of small wonders – very compact, low power servers paradoxically targeted at some of the largest hyper-scale web-facing workloads. Despite being nominally targeted at an overlapping set of users and workloads, the two servers, the Dell “Viking” and the SeaMicro SM10000, represent a study in opposite design philosophies on how to address the problem of scaling infrastructure to address high-throughput web workloads. In this case, the two ends of the spectrum are adherence to an emerging standardized design and utilization of Intel’s reference architectures as a starting point versus a complete refactoring of the constituent parts of a server to maximize performance per watt and physical density.

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Security Forum 2010: Day 2 Keynotes-At-A-Glance

Stephanie Balaouras

Last week, I wrote a blog post summarizing the Day 1 opening keynotes at Forrester’s Security Forum.  This week, I’d like to recap the Day 2 opening keynotes. The second or last day at any event is always a challenge; attendees are always tempted to leave early or to stay in their hotel rooms to get some work done or if the event is in Vegas, squeeze in some craps (my favorite) or drop a few coins in a nearby slot. Luckily, we held the event in Boston and the lobsters have nowhere to run, so most attendees were happy to stick around until the end of the day. Not only did we have great attendance on Day 2, but there was a palpable buzz in the air. The audience asked tough questions and no one was spared — Forrester analysts, industry guest speakers, and vendors. While the main topic of Day 1 seemed to focus on risk and overall strategy, governance, and oversight, Day 2 focused on coming up with the specifics — the specific plans, the specific policies. As Andrew Jaquith stated in his keynote, to provide better data security, “you don’t need more widgets, what you need is a plan.”

Below are some of the highlights from the Day 2 keynotes: 

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Disconnect In Customer Service Language - Activities Vs Outcomes

Kate Leggett

Contact centers are data and metrics driven. If you are an agent, you worry about your average call handle time, the number of calls/emails/chats you are completing per hour, how you are doing compared to your peers, how satisfied customers are with your answers. If you are a call center manager, you keep an eagle eye in real time on your group metrics.

But what is it that C-level executives care about in the boardroom? They are concerned with the quality, cost, and effectiveness of service, and the measurement of the outcome of their strategic decisions – for example, measuring the success of a service strategy like outsourcing operations. They need data to accurately forecast performance and monitor performance trends over time. They need to make strategic technology decisions that support their key business goals.

There’s a first order disconnect between customer service agents and supervisors who talk in the language of activities - AHT, SLAs, or number of emails handled - and C-level executives who care about outcomes - company performance, overall customer loyalty, and churn. What is needed is a bridge, a mapping between the language of agents and the language of the boardroom.

Take for example the request for a service manager customer to add a headcount to help edit content for their knowledgebase. To get buy-in, frame this request in the outcome of this program, not in terms of activities, for example: “We need to evolve our knowledge management solution to provide a better quality of knowledge to our agents. This will ultimately lead to a quantitative, measurable increase in our net promoter score, an increased first time fix rate, and lower operating costs.”

Have you started to link operational metrics to top-level business outcomes? What are effective examples that you use? Has this worked for you?

InfoWorld/Forrester EA Award Winners Announced

Gene Leganza

Readers of this blog are all likely to agree that EA is important, but it's also true that EA teams struggle for influence, laboring mightily in the shadows, out of the limelight. Forrester and InfoWorld have teamed up to end all that. Well, OK, we may not be able to do a lot about the struggling and laboring mightily, but we can certainly do something about the limelight thing.

InfoWorld and Forrester are working together to publicize EA programs that are making a difference to their businesses. A distinguished panel of judges, including Forrester analysts and real-world EA leaders from our EA Council, vetted detailed entries to the InfoWorld/Forrester EA awards contest, and we have picked five winners. These winners show different aspects of high-impact EA programs – but a review of their stories shows some things they have in common as well, including the insight to prioritize the right direction for EA at the right time.

The winners are, in alphabetical order:

  • Aetna: Capability maps
  • Barclays Bank: Road maps and strategic architectural alignment
  • Discover Financial Services: Driving value with EA
  • Skandia UK & International: Transformation delivered through EA
  • Wells Fargo: Living target architecture

We can all learn about the application of EA best practices from these companies’ stories. I strongly encourage you to read the write-ups here. As always, we’re very interested in your comments and ideas!

The Data Digest: Cross-Channel Shopping Behaviors

Reineke Reitsma

To understand how consumers migrate across channels, we analyzed Forrester's European Technographics® Benchmark Survey to determine where they start their purchasing journey and where they end up buying the product. In general, shoppers tend to ultimately purchase in the channel in which they started their research. This inclination is stronger among shoppers who began their research offline: 91% of European shoppers who began their research offline also purchased offline. Meanwhile, 58% of those who started to look for information on the Internet eventually made the purchase online.

However, this purchasing journey differs by product. For example, when we look at leisure travel, about two-thirds of European consumers start researching online. And only one-fifth don’t involve the Internet at all in the researching phase. However, about one-third of consumers who start their research online purchase their travel offline.

Summarizing, European online adults use a mix of channels to research and buy products, and the Internet is a key channel in the purchasing path. Yet deals are still mostly closed in the store. A seamless customer experience in which consumers can achieve goals like returning products across channels is key to driving multichannel success.

The Rise Of Cloud Sourcing

Liz Herbert

Enterprises are increasingly turning toward cloud deployment models (including SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc.), attracted by promises of fast deployment, lower upfront costs, and greater elasticity in pricing and consumption models. This trend has been further fueled by resource constraints (capital and people); cloud solution maturity (sophisticated functionality, customization, and integration); and “empowered” workers (seeking DIY technologies to drive business results). However, the growing use of cloud technologies creates new challenges and questions in areas like TCO, security, support, and vendor management.

Enter cloud sourcing. Cloud sourcing typically refers to a model where third parties play a broker and consulting role in helping firms leverage the cloud strategically across business applications.

Cloud sourcing provides alternatives to traditional outsourcing, packaged application implementation, and application development. Cloud sourcing spans applications, utilities, and services. Cloud sourcing strategies include both the use of cloud applications such as salesforce.com and Workday to deliver business applications as well as the sourcing of complete managed processes via cloud applications plus associated services, such as offerings from Capgemini and Wipro.

Forrester will be part of an upcoming panel at Global Sourcing Forum in New York City on October 13 that discusses key elements of and considerations for cloud sourcing, including:

• How strategic sourcing decisions can include cloud-based solutions.
• What SaaS, Paas, IaaS, and BPO mean in the cloud context.
• Practical lessons and best practices for adopting cloud solutions.
• Challenges with cloud sourcing and how to overcome them.
• Emerging providers and solutions for cloud sourcing.

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Market Moves Toward Integrated Performance And Learning

Claire Schooley

I attended the Taleo customer conference last week in Chicago where CEO Michael Gregoire in his opening session speech boasted about Taleo’s recent acquisition of Learn.com, a $26 million private learning company that Taleo had just bought for $125 million. (Wow!) He admitted he had never been pro learning management systems but that Taleo’s customers’ expressed learning needs had made him a convert to the importance of having an LMS.

Throughout the first day of the conference, many Taleo executives talked about how the acquisition made Taleo a complete talent management company with strong recruiting, which is their heritage along with performance, compensation, and now learning to round out their offerings. This is exactly what I recommend in my research, "The Four Pillars Of Talent Management".

If we are going to have organizations that put a premium on skilled, knowledgeable, and happy employees, there must be a seamless integration among these essential components. Recruiting and onboarding become a process of hiring the right people, ramping them up quickly to full productivity while integrating them into the company culture and putting new hires into an employee performance management plan linked to appropriate learning activities. By linking performance to compensation and non-monetary rewards, employees are more likely to feel that they are valued members of the company team.

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