Take a look at Forrester’s recent Enterprise IT Services Survey and you will find a data point that highlights an interesting challenge in the IT services marketplace. When we asked North American and European IT services clients about their biggest challenges with existing IT services and outsourcing relationships, 52% said that “cost savings are lower than expected and 40% said “inconsistent or poor quality service”. No real surprises here: given the large number of companies that partner with service providers in an explicit effort to lower costs, many IT professionals simply underestimate the time and resources it takes to define and manage these relationships.
But look at the #3 and #4 responses, and the data gets more interesting. 33% of respondents said that their biggest challenges were “lack of innovation and or/continuous service-level improvements” and 35% cited “inability of vendor/contract to respond rapidly to changing business needs”. Don’t the first two responses, in some ways, conflict with the latter two?
These data point to a complaint Forrester hears all the time from professionals within the technology industry: they know that their clients want a proactive business partner – one who can help the client drive innovation and business results – but they don’t know how to charge for innovation in a way that clients will be willing to pay for it. Clients say they want greater level of business innovation from their IT service providers, but prioritize cost-reductions – which are more easily measured and which justify the investment in the IT services relationship.
A couple of weeks ago I published a post called 'The Future Of Research: Building A 3-Dimensional View Of The Customer'. The summary of my post was that consumers connect with companies through different channels and leave their feedback about the company in different places. They expect companies to understand that and they don't want to be asked about things they already shared.
In September this year (2009) I was invited to New York City by IBM to preview their soon to be released CIO study. Very soon after my return home I wrote up an insightful, relevant, and actionable blog post on what I learned at the event. Of course you are going to have to take my word on this, as for some reason I can't find it... It has disappeared into the ether (perhaps I didn't hit the "Save" button at the bottom of the page?). So, despite that fact that the study was released three months ago, I am going to redo my analysis of the study - although now that some local (Australian & Indian - sorry rest of Asia Pacific!) results have been released there is some more relevant information available.
Here are the things I liked in 2009. I thought they might spark ideas for Christmas presents, or guide others to useful resources. A note about all of this. What I’ve written below are the opinions of one person (me) and do not in any way reflect the research, conclusions, analysis, or survey work of Forrester.
Here's my list:
1) The Breville Toaster. If Apple designed a toaster, this would be it. Intuitive, easy to use, dependable, smart. Perfect appliance for a nerd like me.
2) The Amazon Kindle. I’ve got two of them, both Kindle 2s. I love them for five reasons: 1) I can get my newspapers in seconds when I travel, 2) I can read on a plane while I eat my bad airline food – it is small enough to fit on my table along with my food tray, 3) I’ve got all my books with me all the time – keeping my underling and notes at my fingertips, 4) My reading time has increased, and 5) My backpack is lighter. Yes, I miss the feel and texture of my books, but the Kindle's advantages outweigh tradition.
4) Amazing business cycle graphic from the New York Times. Being in the research business I’m always looking for simple but powerful ways to reveal complex data. This graphic was excellent on paper, but even more thought-provoking in its interactive form. The conclusions were sobering -- showing that this recession is comparatively severe compared with down turns of the last 30 years. Stunning.
Case in point, the SEC announced this week the approval of new rules that will, among other things, require companies to disclose the relationship between their compensation policies and risk management, as well as describe the board of directors’ role in risk oversight.
Understanding what compensation policies have a material impact on an organization’s risk and developing policies for board-level oversight of risk will require guidance from internal and/or external risk experts... good news for any risk experts who appreciate gainful employment. And of course, many additional regulations and SEC rules expected to come together early next year are also likely to continue this trend.
A while back, I blogged on how researchers have developed tools to intercept streaming video from video conferencing systems and IP surveillance cameras. Today I feel so prescient with the Wall Street Journal's article on how Iraqi insurgents are using similar software to intercept the video feed of Predator Drones.
The article has the catchy subtitle "$26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq; Iranian Backing Suspected." It discusses how the insurgents are using the software to intercept the Drone's unencrypted video stream, "potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations."
According to the article, the military has been aware that this type of attack was posssible for some time: "The potential drone vulnerability lies in an unencrypted downlink between the unmanned craft and ground control. The U.S. government has known about the flaw since the U.S. campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s, current and former officials said. But the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it, the officials said."
Let's hope that the Pentagon has learned what happens when you ass-u-me things...
For many, IBM's announcement to acquire Lombardi came as a little pre-Christmas surprise. Over the past 24 hours, I've heard several arguments for and against this deal being a game changer. Ultimately, if you look at this deal strictly as a software acquisition, then it presents many potential problems and hurdles for both IBM and Lombardi:
IBM's BPM portfolio is already confusing to customers, with customers and prospects struggling to reconcile whether they should buy Websphere Process Server or FileNet P8 (not to mention the peripheral workflow capabilities provided by Lotus). From a software perspective, this acquisition makes IBM's BPM maze even more intimidating to navigate.